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Trustees and Officers



John Poynton is Professor Emeritus of biology at the University of Natal, South Africa, a research associate of the Natural History Museum, London, and a scientific fellow of the Zoological Society of London. His main research has been in African zoology and biogeography; he has also published in the philosophy of science and in psychical research. He served on the council of the South African Society for Psychical Research, and subsequently served on the council of the Society for Psychical Research in London, where he was the Hon. Secretary from 1997 to his election as President in 2004. On standing down as President in 2007 he resumed the post of Hon. Secretary.



Mary Rose graduated from ghost stories to Lodge's Survival of Man while at school, and later took a turn as President of the Oxford University Society for Psychical Research. She joined the SPR in 1957, becoming a Council member in 1962. She has participated in many investigations and experiments, and has served on the Spontaneous Cases Committee since its inception. Before retirement she was a lawyer and charity administrator, and in the voluntary sector engaged actively in the causes of animal protection and voluntary euthanasia. In 1995 she was elected as Vice-President of the Society. Her most substantial publication is A World in a Grain of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki, written jointly with Ian Stevenson and Zofia Weaver (McFarland, 2005).


An early interest in what might be called the higher powers of the mind associated with mystical states was transformed into a quest to understand how these unusual abilities work by an article by Lawrence LeShan that later became part of his book The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist. This led Richard in 1973 to pursue a PhD in psychology at the University of Edinburgh where he studied under John Beloff and began his association with the SPR on becoming a member and publishing his first scientific papers in the Journal. Following appointments at the University of Utrecht and the State University of New York, Richard joined the Institute for Parapsychology (successor to the famous Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory and now known as the Rhine Research Center) in Durham, North Carolina, where he eventually served as director for five years. In 2000 he left to establish Intuition Laboratories, Inc., but eventually returned to the UK and to academia, joining the psychology division of The University of Northampton in 2004. He continues his research into anomalous intuition and the emotional underpinnings of psi phenomena in the University’s Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Phenomena. Richard is the author of numerous scientific papers and a critically acclaimed popular book on parapsychology. He frequently serves as a commentator in television programs on parapsychology and intuition issues. Dr. Broughton is a twice past president and former long-time board member of the Parapsychological Association and he has served on the SPR Council since 2004.Prof.


Bernard joined the Society in 1962, was co-opted to Council in 1975, and became an elected Member of Council in 1977. He was the SPR Education Officer from 1985 to 2000, organising Study Days and the Annual International Conference. Formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, he is now Professor in Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. He was President of the Society from 2000 to 2004.


Having joined the Society in 1980, Deborah was co-opted to the Council in 1995 and elected in 2000. She is (retired) Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean for the School of Social Sciences (Research and Enterprise) at the University of Northampton; she is also Founder and past Director of the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes (CSAPP), University of Northampton. Deborah's research has included the training and development of ESP ability, ganzfeld work, designing methods for testing ESP outside the laboratory, meta-analyses of psi experiments, examining psi-conducive target characteristics and DMILS (direct mental interaction with living systems) work.


Alan is a retired Reader in Psychology, having taught biological psychology and neuropsychology at the University of Nottingham. He has written or co-authored five books: The Founders of Psychical Research; Human Action and Its Psychological Investigation (with John Shotte); Poltergeists (with Tony Cornell);Mediumship and Survival; and History of Hypnotism. He is a past President of the SPR, recipient of the Parapsychology Association's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Parapsychological Research, and the Myers Memorial Medal of the SPR.


Donald joined the SPR as a teenager and from 1941 to the present has made intermittent contributions to Journal and Proceedings, including two surveys of apparitions and a series of collaborative ESP researches with the late G.W. Fisk, for which they received jointly the McDougall Award, 1958, for distinguished work in parapsychology. He was full-time paid Research Officer from 1946 for 3 years, serving subsequently as Hon. Research Officer and in various other capacities since. His Penguin book Psychical Research Today (1954) was revised in 1962. He has served for many years as a member of the SPR Grants Committee and the Management Committee of the Perrott-Warrick Fund at Trinity College, Cambridge, and received the Myers Memorial Medal in 1997.



Marian Barton has been a member of the Society for Psychical Research for over 50 years. Marian has been on the SPR’s Survival Research Committee for several years and is now the Chairman, and therefore is on the Council of the SPR. Marian worked for over 13 years as Admissions Officer at St Christopher’s Hospice, London and considers that survival is an important aspect of research in the paranormal, as a knowledge that we do survive bodily death can help those bereaved. Marian has also been a member of The Theosophical Society for over 50 years and has given Workshops and lectures on aspects of the paranormal at their Summer Schools.


See under Vice Presidents above.


See under Vice Presidents above.


Barrie joined the SPR in 1973 and was co-opted to Council in 2007. He has been actively involved in the investigation of mental and physical mediums, including direct-voice, transfiguration and materialisation mediumship. Past projects have included the investigation of haunted houses, the human aura, X-ray analysis of hair reported to be taken from the head of Katie King and evaluation of evidence from Gerard Croiset in a missing person case. His principal interest in recent times has been the physics of poltergeist activity, including the development of instrumentation for this branch of the subject. He developed and successfully trialled infra-red absorption equipment as well as a bespoke mid-frequency infra-red camera for poltergeist field work. His most recent project has been a study of the acoustic properties of poltergeist rapping sounds. He has formed the Poltergeist Research Group, an assembly of interested specialists, and is a member of the Spontaneous Cases Committee of the SPR.


See under Vice Presidents above


Deborah is the SPR's Honorary Website Manager. Her PhD is in Psychology with a concentration in consciousness and spirituality from Saybrook University in San Francisco. Her dissertation research was the first parapsychological study of its kind exploring telepathic interspecies communication. Dr. Erickson's most recent research explored animal communication with therapy horses working with PTSD-diagnosed veterans.  Her left-hemisphere work includes over 30 years in technology management as a Director and Technical Project Manager. In her right-hemisphere work she is a parapsychology researcher, telepathic interspecies communicator, Reiki Master, and Healing Touch for Animals practitioner. Her other volunteer work supports animals with the Fences for Fido organization, and the American Rose Society as Consulting Rosarian, Horticulture Judge, Arrangement Judge, and Webmaster for the ARS Pacific Northwest District. More information is available at


John joined the SPR in the late 1990s and, in 2003, became a member of the Spontaneous Cases Committee, where he worked to widen the Committee’s accessibility to the general public through the Society’s website. He was invited to join the Council in 2008. John’s active interest in the paranormal dates from the 1980s, when he participated in a long-running series of hypnotic regression experiments, assisting in the co-ordination of sessions and being trained in hypnotic regression techniques. Like many such experiments, despite some impressive results, it was inconclusive. In 1988, following a research project regarding supernatural occurrences at Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, he was invited to join the Ghost Club, where he became the ‘Vice Chair’ (with investigations portfolio) 1998-2004. John has appeared in a number of media discussions of the paranormal (including Japanese Television). He is currently working on a book on the practicable goals for paranormal research, and the ways to achieve them.


Robert McLuhan studied English Literature at Oxford, then worked as a foreign correspondent for the Guardian in Spain and Portugal. He now works as a freelance journalist. He has been a member of the Society for Psychical Research since 1993, blogging and lecturing on paranormal topics. His 2010 book Randi’s Prize is a critique of sceptical arguments against psychical research.


Alan has been a member of the SPR since 1997 and was co-opted to the Council 1999. He is a lawyer by profession and has investigated spontaneous cases both in Britain and abroad. He is chairman of The Ghost Club.


Guy Lyon Playfair joined the SPR in 1974 and is currently a member of the Library, Survival and Image, Publicity and Publications committees. A graduate of Cambridge University, he has been a freelance journalist and photographer since 1963. He spent 14 years in Brazil where he collected material for the first two of his twelve books, the most recent of which are Twin Telepathy (2002) and New Clothes for Old Souls (2006). His research activities have included collaboration with Maurice Grosse on the Enfield poltergeist case of 1977-78 and with Montague Keen on the Jacqueline Poole murder case (2004). He is a regular contributor to the SPR Journal and his Mediawatch column, featuring criticism of extreme scepticism, appeared in 32 consecutive issues of the Paranormal Review from 1996 to 2004, and now appears regularly on the website


Chris is Professor of Psychology at the University of Northampton in the UK. He is Director of the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes and is Course Leader for Northampton’s MSc in Transpersonal Psychology and Consciousness Studies. Chris was awarded his PhD by the University of Edinburgh for research on the ways in which psychic effects might be simulated using conventional psychology. His research at Northampton has continued his interest in the psychology of anomalous experience and has concerned topics ranging from spirituality and wellbeing, psychic deception, correlates of paranormal belief and experience, and experimental tests of claimed phenomena of extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. He is Editor of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, is a Board Member of the Parapsychological Association, Council Member of the Society for Psychical Research, and a Committee member for the BPS Transpersonal Psychology Section.


David is a Systems Philosopher and an advocate of the value of systems approaches in the study of transformative experiences. He has over 20 years senior management experience in the aerospace and semiconductor industries, and over 20 years board-level involvement with charitable organisations. He joined the SPR in 1994, was co-opted to Council in 1997 and has been an elected Council member since 2003. In 2000 he co-founded C-FAR, and led the project that in 2003 launched the online Library of Exploratory Science (, which hosts peer-reviewed publications relating to controversies in science and the humanities. In 2005 he launched the Kuhnexus CaseBase Project, a collaborative project to establish a database of the best cases of paradigm-challenging phenomena, and develop methods for their analysis. Since 2007 he has been conducting research using systems theory to analyse religious, spiritual, mystical and psychical experiences. In 2012 he founded The Centre for Systems Philosophy (, with the aim of promoting Systems Philosophy and its value in Exploratory Science.


Julie Rousseau is a business strategy consultant in retail e-commerce, with a particular focus on organizational design and change management. With a degree in Mathematics, she has provided decision support in areas as diverse as fisheries management, aeronautics and new business development. She is a Scientific Advisor to the Center for Systems Philosophy, promoting interdisciplinary and systems approaches to the study of anomalous phenomena, and has a particular interest in the mechanisms by which new ideas catalyse social transformation. She joined the SPR in 1994 and has been a member of Council since 2002. She served as the SPR’s Hon Website Manager from 2006 to 2014, introducing online subscription and membership management, and providing tools for non-technical volunteers to add editorial content to the website easily. She is a co-founder of the Library of Exploratory Science, which houses the SPR’s Online Library.


Tom joined the Society in 1987 and Council in 1990. He was a member of the Publicity sub-committee (later the Image and Publicity Committee) from 1988-1994 – during which time he co-designed the current SPR logo – and was Hon. Appeals Secretary 1989-90. In 1991 He served on Bob Morris’s working party which led to the setting up of the now-defunct Research Activities Committee, and was Hon. Testing Officer 1992-2007. In 2005 he joined the Image, Publicity and Publications Committee and is currently on both the committees which emerged from it – the Education and Publicity, and E-Communications Committees. Since January 2009 he has been Book Reviews Editor for the Journal and was on the Library Committee 2010-14. Since 2011 he has served on the Conference Programme Committee.  He was involved in developing the current website and since 2011 has been the SPR’s Communications Officer, adding content to the website and responding to emails received through it, as well as looking after the SPR’s Facebook page and Twitter account. He has been instrumental in obtaining several collections of material for the SPR’s archives. For some years he was a coordinator of the Anglia Paranormal Research Group and investigated a number of spontaneous cases. He has contributed to JSPR and Paranormal Review (and its predecessors) as well as Fortean Times and online publications, blogs at, and is the author of Ghost Images: Cinema of the Afterlife. He is an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, and an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.


Adrian is a freelance business systems analyst for the financial services industry. His interests include the study of the association between ESP, geomagnetic activity and local sidereal time; laboratory experimentation, particularly remote viewing; and experiment design. Adrian is keen to represent the views of younger members of the society and was a co-founder of the psi-in-the-pub network.


Zofia has been a member of the SPR since 1982. One of her main areas of interest in psychical research is the investigation of famous Polish psychics. Her paper on the Polish physical medium, Franek Kluski, was published in the JSPR in 1992 and, together with Mary Rose Barrington and Professor Ian Stevenson, she has written a comprehensive study of the Polish clairvoyant Stefan Ossowiecki. She served as the Editor of the Society's Journal in the years 1999-2002, and currently chairs the SPR's E-Communications Committee.


See under Vice Presidents above


Melvyn joined the SPR in ? (can't remember...was it 1066?) and during this time he has published articles in the Journal and Paranormal Review on his two main fields of research, namely, music and witchcraft. (Books were published on these subjects in 2005, 2007 and 2008). In his role as Hon. Archive Officer he regularly explores and adds to the wealth of material that is housed in the London and Cambridge libraries. He houses the audio-visual collection at his secure premises and has an in-depth knowledge of its content. Melvyn is currently (2009) researching the musical perspective of near death experiences as a part-time Perrott-Warrick scholarship.


·         Hon. Secretary: Donald West

·         Hon. Treasurer: Richard Broughton

·         Hon. Website Manager: Deborah Erickson

·         Hon. Archives Liaison Officer: Melvyn Willin

·         Hon. Editor, Journal & Proceedings: Chris Roe

·         Hon. Editor, The Paranormal Review: Leo Ruickbie

·         Hon. Review Editor: Tom Ruffles

·         Production Editor, Journal & Proceedings: David Ellis

·         Hon. Communications Officer: Tom Ruffles


Peter Johnson: Secretary

Karen Patel: Librarian