After a long career in the police force Amanda Callaghan is naturally suspicious.
But if her day job as an investigator over 13 years taught her anything it is to trust her instincts, which is where she is left slightly at odds with her current vocation for ghost hunting.
She says while colleagues and even her husband were intrigued by her side hobby, they did not share the enthusiasm or understand her fascination for the supernatural.
Amanda doesn’t label herself “a believer” but instead as “open minded.”
Her interest in the paranormal started a long time before she joined the police as a young child growing up in Longridge.
She says: “I used to love ghost stories and would spend all my time reading up on local history – the Pendle Witches and places thought to be haunted like Chingle Hall in Goosnargh and Whittingham Hospital.
“It was my uncle who first used to share with me theories on the paranormal world – he used to tell me about a haunted pub he worked in.
“As I got older I started researching real life stories – people’s own experiences of the supernatural. I was intrigued and, while I was still sceptical, I wanted to find and solve my own mysteries, which is how I first found myself joining the police!”
Amanda began by seeking out supernatural events around the area, joining local ghost hunts just to see what they were about.
“I wanted to get more involved and even though I wasn’t quite sure what I believed I joined the ghost hunts purely to meet like-minded people.
“Some were like me – not entirely sure what we were looking for, others had been ghost followers from a young age and then there were people with their own experiences.
“It was my hobby but I began to learn a lot more about investigations and pick up my own experience.
“I have now visited some of the most haunted locations in the UK and while, on some occasions, I have talked myself out of the extraordinary happenings. I have definitely witnessed things that cannot be explained.”
It was at a ghost hunt Amanda first met investigator Gemma Findlow from Oldham, who had pursued a career in the paranormal, completing studies in paranormal investigations, parapsychology, as well as demonology and possessions/exorcisms.
Amanda, now a holistic therapist and reiki practitioner, adds: “We shared many of the same passions and together we decided we could start up a group of our own and Ghost Followers was born.”
The pair founded Ghost Followers in 2015. It is now a group of 12, from all walks of life and made up of dedicated paranormal investigators and mediums who lead multiple events at some of the most haunted locations in the UK and Europe.
The events are open to anyone with an interest in the ghostly world. Co-founders Amanda, Gemma and the team have access to state-of-the-art ghost hunting equipment as well as using traditional methods such as Ouija boards, table tipping and seances.
Amanda says: “We are all very different people, with very different beliefs and sensitivities but we all bring something to the group.
“We have all taken part in different investigations here and abroad and together we have more than 20 years of ghost hunting experience.
“The people that come to our events are the same. We have total sceptics looking for investigations to find explanations to people who are highly sensitive who want to discover more about what is ‘out there’, while some may just have an interest in history. We have had some very unique experiences.”
The team have led sell-out events locally and further afield. Last year the team conducted an investigation at The Regent in Blackpool.
Earlier this month they returned to England’s most haunted house: 30 East Drive in Pontefract, and next month they are hosting an investigation at Pendle Hill as well as returning to the eerie island of Poveglia in Venice, the home to plague victims when the Black Death rolled through Europe and later an asylum for the mentally ill.
Amanda says: “Poveglia was certainly not an easy place to go to. It is a very sad and haunting place but we picked up some extraordinary communications with the EMF meter.
“Our trip to Chernobyl was very powerful, too. You don’t know what will happen when you visit these abandoned places.”
As well as the event trips the team are responsible for private investigations, too. In April the Ghost Followers will be venturing out to Affieux in France where they will be working at old ‘Auberge’ where the owners have been experiencing what they believe to be poltergeist activity.
The team are hoping to catch the goings on on film and the plan is to hold a ‘livestream’ investigation.
“We are all open to new places to investigate and looking all the time for locations to try. We will often visit a place first before hosting an event.”
The non-profit group have a catalogue of equipment they bring along for investigations, from EMF meters which detect spikes in electro magnetic energy and night vision camcorders to spirit boxes such as the P-SB11 and REM Pods, a mini telescopic antenna to radiate its own independent magnetic field around the instrument.
They will often use ‘traditional’ methods, too: spirit dice, a human pendulum or a seance, a form of mediumship in which one or more people communicate with entities on another frequency.
Amanda says: “It can often be quite emotional and, even though we know what we are going for, quite terrifying at times.
“My experiences have not been aggressive or intimidating, I’ve taken pictures of an apparition of a man, felt myself being touched and a sudden overwhelming smell of flowers but some of our members have experienced physical contact or left with unexplained scratches and bruises.
It can be very different for everyone. A few of our team are very good at sensing the energy of the places we visit. Sometimes when you hear different noises, your reasoning tells you it’s your imagination running away with you and there is a simple explanation but all the lights on the pods go off and that’s when you can feel uneasy and a stronger sense of something more.”
n Visit: http://ghostfollowers.com. For more information on the group’s upcoming events follow the group on Facebook www.facebook.com/GhostFollowers