By Lisz Boardman, Surrey Mirror – 9 July 2008
Is there anybody there? This was the question Redhill medium Val Hood asked into the darkness at a recent ghost hunt in Reigate’s oldest department store.
Armed with a Ouija board, camera equipment and nerves of steel, Val, along with members of the Sussex Paranormal Society, spent the night at Knights of Reigate searching for spooks and specters.
The Bell Street department store is steeped in history and used to be a hotel before it became a shop, but Val and the team seemed to have unearthed a seedier side to the famous building.
The 53year old, of South Mead, Redhill, said: “when it was a hotel it was a place of ill repute used by prostitutes.”
She added: “A little boy called Tommy came through during the seance. He was murdered there. He was a son of one of the prostitutes and I think he was murdered by the man in charge back then.”
Sounds a little far-fetched? Val maintains she does everything by the book and does not “play up to the camera”.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I do everything sincerely and properly,” she said.
To capture the events, a camera crew, from Sussex Paranormal, with night vision and infra red technology was used to record any ‘sightings’.
Val said: “We used the Ouija board for about three hours. We split up into two groups and both groups got the same things coming through.”
During the seance a former employee of the store, Ernest Bagnall, apparently dropped in on the group in a spooky visitation.
Val said “We had someone from Knights with us who recognized the name that was spelt out on the Ouija board.”
“We also had lots of things moving around and lots of orbs (spirit energy) and messages coming through.”
“We were all surprised with what we found. We could have stayed there all night.”
Val was joined by Gavin Dulley, who runs Reigate ghost tours, as well as staff members from Knights, who had reported ‘poltergeist activity’.
Originally from Wales, Val’s talent for all things ghostly started when she was a youngster.
She explained: “I’ve been seeing things since I was eight years old. When I was in my 30’s, I needed some help and ended up in a spiritualist church, and it all happened from there.” Sounding a little like a character from the film The Sixth Sense, Val added: “I see things all the time.”