SPR announces Buckmaster Legacy


Mr Nigel Buckmaster, a late member of the Society for Psychical Research, has donated a substantial legacy for the purpose of creating a book, with digital extensions, consisting of best cases of psychical research, including a report on his own survival-related experience (described in an article by G.W. Lambert in Journal44, 1967, pp. 232-7).  He asked that remaining funds should finance a series of concise books aimed at the general reader and be invested in property, to help secure the Society’s long term future.

The estate included Mr Buckmaster’s house, then valued at around £250,000. However with property inflation the value had doubled by the time of his death so that the funds now available, including income accumulated since then, are in excess of £700,000.  That is far beyond the testator’s original expectation, and substantially more than is required for the publication of books.

Accordingly the SPR Council has been obliged to consider the best way to disburse the legacy, bearing in mind the testator’s wish that it be used to inform readers about existing research into psi and survival. Council has also taken into account the emergence, in the decades since the Will was made, of digital formats as an alternative preferred by many readers to printed media.

Taking these considerations into account, Council has determined that around half of the legacy (£350,000) be spent in a programme of interlinked publications projects, as follows:

  1. a book (and ebook) containing case studies and new commentary relating to and bearing on survival 
  2. a free online encyclopaedia serving as a comprehensive repository of articles and source material
  3. a series of short educational books (and ebooks) on key categories of psychical research
  4. a new section of the SPR website offering a regular supply of new articles and commentary

Council considers that the need to convince the scientific establishment of the relevance of psychical research is as important as educating the public. Accordingly, it has made a grant of £78,000 towards the creation and publication of a systematic methodology for anomalies research. It is intended that this methodology can be applied to other scientific disciplines besides psychical research, and help draw our field into the mainstream.

Two other projects include urgently needed updates to the online library Lexscien (£10,000) and an online repository for experimental data as a free resource for psi researchers (£10,000).

As the testator’s Will directs, the balance (around £270,000) is to be invested in property funds, and will remain available to help purchase new freehold premises, in the event that this becomes desirable or necessary.

The Will makes no specific provision for research. However it is intended that interest earned from the funds prior to disbursement will be used to increase the amounts available for research grants.

Further details of the scope and execution of these projects, and the background to their creation, will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal and/or Paranormal Review. 

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