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Real Ghostbusters

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you going to call? Nick Chen meets the two men behind Paranormal Wales

When two security officers discovered a shared interest in the unexplained, they formed an investigation team. Since 2006, Paranormal Wales has been operated by Christopher Rees and Richard Oliver, aged 27 and 36 respectively.

What comes across with the pair is the warmth of their friendship and the trust they have in each other. They’re physically similar, both built with the strength you’d want from two security officers, but their personalities are also synchronised. Richard grew up with a family background in mediumship, while Christopher spent his childhood obsessed with UFOs.

“I used to watch The X-Files when I was growing up,” Christopher says. He laughs when asked if Richard is his Scully. “Something like that.”

The pair first met when they had a job protecting bus conductors in Newport for the same security company. “We used to talk about the unexplained and found it fascinating,” remembers Christopher. “As time went by, we ended up working in empty buildings – and that’s when things started happening.”

They can now be contacted to investigate any suspicions of ghostly activity, which they check using special apparatus. Their equipment includes an EMF detector (to measure any unnaturally high levels of electromagnetic fields), a laser thermometer (to see if any force breaks the beam of light) and a video camera (to document as much as possible).

“Never do it on your own,” advises Richard. “If something happens, everyone has to take your word for it.”

“Also for health and safety,” adds Christopher. “You panic, you might hurt yourself, and people don’t believe you.”

 “With the EMF detector, we find that some people are sensitive to electromagnetic fields,” says Richard. If there’s a particularly high reading with no simple explanation? “Whatever’s left must be paranormal – and then I use my mediumship.” Does he know who these spirits are? “For some of them, when they die, it’s such a shock, they don’t realise they’re dead. Others want to check on their loved ones.”

“They’re people who have the ability to come back,” says Christopher. “Why do they keep visiting us?”

“You could ask 100 people if this world is messed up and they’ll all say yes,” says Richard.  “If the spirit world is coming to us, imagine what’s going on there.” He explains that he once saw the ghost of an unattended five-year-old girl. “In this world, at least we have childcare, but they don’t seem to have any of it.”

Richard’s wife is less of a fan, especially as, unlike Christopher, he considers himself to be a medium. He explains, “She doesn’t like it because it frightens her.”

“It frightens me!” interjects Christopher.

Richard believes he’s less afraid than Christopher because of his ability to communicate with the spirits. He says, “There were psychics on both sides of my family, so maybe it’s passed on.”  He has a seven-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, but he hasn’t told them about his gift. “My boy’s a bit curious about the paranormal, but I try to keep them away from it because they’re so young.”

Christopher believes the catalyst for Paranormal Wales was when they were guarding an empty retirement home in a 17-hour shift that started at 4pm. “We heard a noise around 2am, but there nobody in the building,” he says. “So we thought we’d experiment.” They jammed a brush behind a radiator in the hallway, then left it for a few minutes. “When we came back, it was tucked neatly in the corner. We didn’t hear it move. We panicked and checked all the rooms, but there was no one there. Nobody could have got in because the place was locked down with CCTV.”

“The camera was facing away from the brush,” adds Richard, shaking his head regretfully.

“I felt as if I’d walked into something I’d never felt in my life,” says Christopher, getting very animated with his hand gestures. “There was a whooshing sound that made my ears go pop, as if an invisible person was running past. I nearly collapsed, and it hit the brush – I ran screaming. But when we got back, the brush was nowhere near where it was.” They both laugh. “I thought we were going to be beaten up by a brush.”

 “After that, I did another experiment,” says Richard. “I whistled an old tune, and it finished it. I asked it to whistle it back, and it finished the song.”

However, the damage can linger beyond these investigations. After one particular experience, Richard found himself infected with negative energy from a spirit. “It was from this horrible, negative boy,” he shudders. “After I saw him, this thing – I just had it.” It took over him for two days. “My wife couldn’t believe it. I was in a shopping centre and I was racist to someone. I’m the most anti-racist person in the world.” Chris nods. “But it took over me. The next day, I was driving my wife and kids to the Breacon Beacons. Someone tried to overtake me, but I opened the door and took a swing at him. On the third day, I could feel it lifting. The things I was doing – I just had no idea I was doing them.”

Ironically, Christopher admits his biggest phobia is if he was to ever witness a spirit. He confesses, “I’m researching it, but I’m really scared of it.”

“I had a terrible phobia of spiders,” says Richard. “But that stopped with meditation.” His daily sessions suggest he is at one with his spirituality. “I’m not a fan of The Bible or any of those books. I just believe there’s a God who’s trying to give us a message – we ought to listen to it a bit more. I also believe in ancient astronauts and extraterrestrials. You have to find a way to make science and religion fit together.”

It’s clear that the pair are driven not only by a close friendship, but an obsession with the unknown. “We don’t charge for the service because we’re not in it for the money,” insists Christopher, then laughs quietly to himself. “The equipment’s not cheap, so it’s quite an expensive hobby.”