Spooky Isles interviews Mark Riley, paranormal investigator with Abbey Ghost Hunters, based in Scarborough in North Yorkshire. Mark began his paranormal investigating 14 years ago in Greater Manchester and is the author of paranormal books, such as Haunted Scarborough and Haunted Hull.
What was your first Paranormal encounter?
It was in 1997 whilst working in a shopping centre in Oldham Greater Manchester. Late one evening whilst the centre was closed I encountered an elderly lady whom I though had gotten lost and locked in by accident. She was at the bottom of a stairwell stood by the fire exit. So I approached her asking was she okay. She looked directly at me and said yes she was. I told her she shouldn’t be there and that I would help her out of the building. She said she had not done anything wrong and gave me her name and address. I said it was okay and not to worry as she was not in any trouble and as I pointed towards the stairs saying it is this way she vanished into thin air. I knew something was not right about that and had up to this point been a hardened sceptic. But a few days later when I went looking for the street and could not see anyone fitting her description entering or leaving the house to which she had claimed to live, I went to the library and done a census research for that property and sure enough I did discover her, but from the 1950s.
Do you believe in ghosts, and if so, what is a ghost?
Yes I do believe in ghosts purely due to my own experiences on investigations. A ghost is an earthbound spirit who has not passed over to where they belong. If spirits exist as proven to me on my first encounter then surely Ghosts must exist too. We would have to be naïve to believe everyone makes it straight into the light.
What evidence have you personally uncovered that makes you consider ghosts are real?
We have what I believe to be photographic evidence of a ghost, also video footage of someone that could not have been in the area physically, and strong EVP recordings.
Are you skeptical of the claims others make of their findings?
Of course I am as I would expect others to be of my claims. Sadly there has been a massive rise in teams and investigators since the famous TV show Most Haunted. And with it has brought a lot of fakers who will do anything to try prove the existence of both spirits and ghosts. So why would you just accept someone’s claim, As I say I don’t expect people to believe me. We gather our evidence and put it forward to our clients to make up their own minds as to what they want believe.
How do prepare for a ghost hunt?
I myself from the team know only of where we are going, we do not advertise our investigations. Once I organise an investigation I text each team member to let them know the date, and what time they need to be ready to leave. I have all their addresses so can easily work out the distance from their home to the location. I then advise them how much petrol to put in their vehicles. That is the only clue they get. On the night at the time I know they need to leave I text them a postcode, but not the one for the location, this will be a McDonalds restaurant were we will meet at an appointed time, this way they could not even if they wanted to look it up on Google to get any clue. Once we meet and have had a drink they will follow me to the location. I will leading up to the investigation do any research possible so we have the information to hand if the psychic or any other member get any information.
What tips would you give for someone going on a paranormal investigation for the first time?
Expect nothing to happen that way anything that does is a bonus. Never venture off alone it looks good on TV these lone vigils but you need at least two people present at all times.
What is your favourite piece of paranormal investigation equipment?
Video Camera. As it records and hopefully if we do see something it will record it. It also records all conversations on the night and is great back up to notes taken,
Are you psychic? Do you consider being psychic a help or a hindrance for paranormal investigations?
I am about as psychic as a house-brick. I understand sceptics views on psychics, but I say anything is possible, so if psychic ability is real then surely they can warn others of any dangerous or malevolent spirits are present. As I said earlier by the team not knowing where they are going until they get there, then surely information the psychic comes up with and is researched proven to be true, then isn’t a psychic an important tool to us too?
What makes a great haunted location?
Ghosts! Any location that has had a great past or a location that has had many experiences taking place over time will prove to have something for us. Even workplaces that have been happy and full of hard labour.
If you could investigate any haunted location, where would that be?
To be really honest I always wanted to do one of the royal castles, but I have found whenever I have investigated anywhere with a huge reputation they have not been as great as expected, however they where still worth visiting as I always say to people I will investigate anywhere that is believed to be haunted, whether it is a huge castle or a one bedroomed flat. If its got a ghost, it is worth visiting.
What scares you about Ghost Hunting or Paranormal Investigations?
I have never been scared on any investigation or about Ghost Hunting. That does not mean however that I ignore warnings and remain vigilant on every investigation.
In your opinion, what is the most haunted area in the UK or Ireland?
That is difficult to say as I have never been to Ireland. But in my opinion Yorkshire is very busy. I have been investigating here for 10 years and only touched a small fraction of the possible locations.
Read any good paranormal books or watched any good paranormal TV shows/movies recently?
To be honest I never actually watch the programmes on TV. I like movies but the classics like The Entity or Amityville. Books, yes there are three good ones called Haunted Hull, Haunted Scarborough and Exploring the Paranormal by a chap called Mark Riley!
Tell us about your favourite moment from a paranormal investigation.
I have had some really good moments, but one that always stands out for me is hearing the voice of a spirit boy aged fourteen years old who after the Psychic tells us why is there and we thank him for talking to us we all heard the little boys voice say “Thank you” it was priceless..
MARK RILEY is an investigator with Abbey Ghost Hunters, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, but they travel across the UK. You can find out more about them on their webpage www.abbeyghosthunters.co.uk, Twitter and Facebook.