Updated: Jun 24, 2019
The Weird 09 Paranormal Conference took place at the Athenaeum Theatre in Warminster, Wiltshire, on Saturday 29th- Sunday 30th August 2009. Warminster is one of the UK’s biggest UFO hot spots, and was made famous by the UFO flap that occurred there in the late 70s – early 80s. Myself and Kate drove down early on the Saturday morning and arrived shortly before the first lecture kicked off. We met up with other BUFOG members Larry & Pam Potter, and after briefly chatting with some of the researchers who would be speaking at the conference it was time to take our seats.
The theatre was a great venue for the lectures, it had two levels of tiered and comfortable seats and was extremely dark. The host of the conference was Ross Hemsworth, the presenter of the Saturday night TV show Now THAT’S Weird and researcher of the paranormal. Ross is a very confident speaker and was an ideal choice to host Weird 09. He gave a brief and amusing introduction before Kevin Goodman took to the stage.
Kevin Goodman is part of UFO Warminster, a group dedicated to keeping Warminster’s flame burning. When he was young he visited Warminster many times for UFO sky watches and has had some stunning UFO sightings in the area, as well as possibly witnessed contact from an extraterrestrial life form channelled through one of his friends. His lecture focused mostly on Arthur Shuttlewood, the lead investigator into the Warminster sightings back in the 1970s. He also covered one of his own UFO sightings where him and his friends saw a silver disc-shaped object in broad daylight. Kevin’s lecture kick-started the conference in great style and featured many interesting photographs. His obvious enthusiasm for his work always shines through and this was no exception. At the end of his talk he provided everyone with details for the planned Saturday evening sky watch, which I was certainly looking forward to.
In the break I took a brief look round the dealer rooms, and met some of the band CEIV, something I have wanted to do for many years! CEIV are one of the only UK bands dedicated to the UFO subject. Their songs cover many different aspects of the phenomena and are well worth checking out. I even got a photo taken with the band mascot Tor - a life-size model Grey adorned in various metal studs and tattoos! We also met up with other BUFOG members Zoe & Ian who had arrived late and unfortunately missed Kevin’s lecture.
The next speaker was ex-MoD UFO investigator Nick Pope. His talk was based around the latest UFO documents to be released by the Ministry of Defence. This has been ongoing for a couple of years now, and in the end Nick says that all UFO-related documents will be in the public domain. The latest reports were a mix of sightings, some more impressive than others. One of the one’s recently released describes a radar sighting of an object over a mile wide! Nick believes that the MoD is not with-holding information and is as mystified by UFOs as everyone else. I am resident to completely believe this, I think in a number of incidents the truth has been bent and information has been covered up, however they are certainly opening up a lot more than they would have several years ago. The question is – is this part of a gradual planned disclosure or not? Nick’s lecture was highly enjoyable and if you missed it, he will be speaking at BUFOG in December.
After grabbing a much needed snack from the Subway across the road, it was time for Hayley Steven’s lecture entitled “Is There Anybody Out There?” This moved away from the subject of UFOs and instead delved into the existence of ghostly phenomena. Hayley is the founder of Wiltshire Phenomena Research. Over the years she has seen some very spooky things, and yet remains sceptical of a lot of the reports that come her way. She has a very rational way of thinking and believes that a lot of the sightings can be disproved.
Part of Hayley’s talk revolved around an experiment that we were all invited to partake in. Everyone was given a pen and paper. We were shown a number of related words for an amount of time on screen, and then had to remember the words we had seen and write them down. The words were all related to different tastes and dessert food items. When she asked us what words we had written down, many of us had put down the word “sweet” even though it was not actually in the words we had been shown. I admit I fell for this. We then tried the experiment a second time. This time the words were all related to feelings of anger. Despite the word “angry” not being in the list, again many people including myself wrote it down. This experiment was done to prove that sometimes our mind can be deceived into remembering things that in fact did not take place. Hayley suggests that this may be the case for some reported paranormal incidents. This seems logical and certainly a possibility, and everyone enjoyed taking part in the experiment.
After heading down the hotel where we were staying at to sign in and grab some lunch, it was time for Brian Allan’s fascinating lecture entitled “The Rosslyn Frequency”. This talk went over the discoveries Brian had made relating to the medieval Rosslyn Chapel. He believes that the chapel holds the key to opening a doorway to another dimension, and that numerous “doorways” of this type exist around the planet. He showed us carvings on the chapel walls which give clues that this is the location for one of these portals. After much research he has discovered that the chapel has been built to resonate with a particular frequency of sound wave. He obtained special permission to test this theory with a number of others present. When this sound was played within the chapel, he says that something unusual happened next to one of the altars, he believes that the doorway was partially opened. Since this incident he has found out that light may also play a part in opening the portal, and hopes that in the future he will be allowed once more to test this at the chapel. His field of research is fascinating and it was a very interesting talk indeed.
The final speaker of the day was Peter McCue, a retired clinical psychologist who is now a member of the Society for Psychical Research. He gave a lecture exploring the link between ghostly phenomena and building renovation work. I had not heard of this apparent link before so it was another very interesting talk. He described numerous examples where renovations on old buildings had apparently caused the appearance of ghostly phenomena such as poltergeists, unexplained sounds and apparitions. Peter believes that some reported paranormal phenomena is probably genuine and should not be dismissed without proper evidence to suggest otherwise.
The first day of the conference finished about five o’clock. We then headed back to our hotel for several hours to await the start of the sky watch. I drove up to Cradle Hill just before 8pm. Kate could not make the sky watch but Larry and Pam were there. Cradle Hill lies just to the North of the town and was only several minutes drive away. Everyone congregated around the area known as the “white gates”. The gates no longer exist but used to be present back in the 1970s-80s. The white gates area lies right next to army-owned land so the organisers of the sky watch had asked informed them we would be there. The area is one of the most popular places for sky watches as there is a fantastic view of the sky in all directions. A road leads up from the white gates to the copse, a small area of trees with a barn, where much unusual activity and sightings have been recorded.
When I first arrived there were already over forty people present including a TV crew with some professional camera equipment. I chatted with a number of people including Kevin Goodman and Malcolm Robinson. Soon afterwards the light began to fade in the sky so I decided to walk up to the copse before it got pitch black so I could take a look at the area. I took some photos on the way up the road which seem to show orbs, although I believe this was probably because of the fast diminishing light conditions. Once I reached the copse I took a look at the barn and found some UFO graffiti someone had drawn. I then went to stand on the far side of the copse with a number of others and watched as the evening light faded to darkness. At this point there was still quite a bit of cloud cover with only patchy areas of clear sky.
At about 10pm I walked back down to the white gates to meet up with the main body of sky watchers. Zoe and Ian finally turned up after a visit to Avebury. As time went by, the sky slowly cleared to reveal a star-filled sky. We could make out numerous satellites on their orbital paths.
It was approximately 11pm, when suddenly we noticed some unusual flashes of light coming from far away to the North North East. They were in the distance but lit up an area of the sky a bright blue/white colour. The flashes were intermittent and lasted for about five seconds. It seemed very unlikely they were caused by lightning as firstly there was no sound of thunder and secondly the weather was very clear and calm. If they were a fireworks display I would have expected to see various colours and also it seemed very late to be having a display. They probably had a rational explanation but are currently unidentified.
About half an hour later there were roughly twenty people still left, everyone else had headed back down to the town. Suddenly someone pointed out an object to our South. It was moving very fast, at first I thought it must be a military jet. But as it got closer we could hear no sound coming from it. I could not make out a shape against the dark sky but it had an unusual dark green-blue coloured light on it. Every three seconds a very bright white light would flare up and then die back down. It was very unusual and the lights seen were not consistent with any known aircraft or helicopter, military or civilian. The object passed to our East and then turned till it was heading in a North East East direction away from us. Even when it had gone out of sight we could still make out the white flaring light for another minute. I did try to record it on video but sadly it was so dark nothing came out. However others may have captured something, and Ian got an audio recording from when we first spotted it. I fully expected someone to be able to tell me what the object had been, but when I walked around and checked everyone present was as mystified as I was! So far this object has not been identified so it is a genuine UFO, the first one I have ever seen. I have written a detailed report on this sighting which can be found in the Reported UFOs section of this website.
It got to roughly midnight when something else caught everyone’s attention. There was a sudden glow of yellow light which moved very fast to the left and then back to the right under the light cloud to the East of Cradle Hill. Before vanishing. I only managed to see the last second of it as I was looking the other direction at the time. We were all discussing it when several minutes later it returned as a stationary light. It then slowly moved left a touch before vanishing again. It continued to reappear and vanish and after several minutes were realised it was a search light coming up from the nearby military base. We assumed that they were doing it on purpose as a joke because they knew the sky watch was in progress!
I left Cradle Hill with Zoe and Ian about 12.15am, and felt very contented at how well the sky watch had gone and that we had seen some unusual activity.
On Sunday morning before the lectures began, people were chatting about what had taken place. Kevin thought that perhaps it was some sort of hoax set up in response to the sky watch, but if it was remote controlled it was moving very fast and also must have had a very long range as the object had vanished into the distance. Currently it remains a valid UFO sighting.
Sunday kicked off with a lecture by Joe McGonagle. It covered discrepancies in the UFO documents released by the Ministry of Defence that may point to a cover up of information. The information given in his talk was valid, although for first thing in the morning the lecture was rather wordy and I think some people found it hard to concentrate. Joe pointed out various mistakes that the MoD had made while writing up sightings of UFOs. He believes that more care and attention to detail should have been made in certain circumstances.
Next up was a fascinating lecture about the Men In Black by well renowned ufologist Nick Redfern, who was specially visiting the UK from Dallas where he now lives. He covered a number of historic cases of the Men In Black and talked about the various possible explanations for them, to coincide with his book “On The Trail Of The Saucer Spies”. Since the US freedom of information act, Nick has been able to retrieve documents which prove that in some cases the MIB have been governmental agents sent to investigate UFO witnesses and contactees. However in other cases, they appear to be far more sinister and could even be extraterrestrial beings. It’s a shame that his lecture did not include any very recent cases as I am sure that visitations by the Men in Black do still take place.
Paul Devereux was next to take to the podium, and gave a talk with a difference. His lecture was entitled Walking With Spirits, and was about the historic spirit paths that pass across the UK and Ireland. These spirit paths are lines which the dead are said to travel along to move between places. Paul provided evidence that ghostly activity has been recorded on these hidden paths. He has also found evidence that stiles were historically used as a location where spirits could be divined and interrogated. It was a really interesting talk and one backed up with some highly believable evidence, Paul had obviously looked into the subject in great depth and was a true expert on it.
Over the Sunday lunch break, I got to see some video screenings of interviews with UFO researchers Dr David Clarke and Steve Dewey. It was great hearing the opinions of other researchers who could not actually be present at the conference. I also took part in an experiment ASUS were running. People partaking in the experiment had to independently watch a short clip of UFO video footage and then answer some questions on what they think they had just seen. The footage seemed to show a dull metallic looking sphere. I was informed afterwards that the footage is actually fake.
The first lecture of the afternoon was my favourite of the entire weekend. It was by contactee Mike Oram and was entitled “From Warminster to Area 51”. Mike discussed in detail a recent highly unusual incident that had happened to him and his wife while out near the gate to Area 51 and the infamous Little A’le’inn. When he took a photograph at the gate, an unidentified truck had driven out of the facility towards them. He got back in his car and drove away but soon realised the truck was tailing them. He then sprung a flat tyre, but all of a sudden the truck had completely vanished. Rather than change the tyre straight away, for an unknown reason he had driven quite a distance to a garage. Here he met two unusual men and a staring young child who also appeared to have turned up from nowhere. Later at the Little A’le’inn Mike saw unidentified lights in the sky and went missing for a period of time.
Later he had decided to go for hypnotic regression to try and find out what happened. The story that unfolded was fascinating. The truck had apparently caught up their car. On the back of it was a strange device which opened up some sort of portal. Mike was lead through this by military personnel and then found himself in a facility (he assumes inside Area 51) where there were both American military and alien beings working together. The two men and child he had met at the garage turned out to be two humanoid beings who he had seen numerous times before through his life, and a small Grey-like being with a large head. The incident was completely fascinating, and Mike presented it in a very open and believable way. I decided to buy his book “Does It Rain In Other Dimensions?” to read more about his life-long experiences.
Many people were quite tired by the time of the final lecture of the conference. It was a good thing then that it was by Malcolm Robinson , who’s passion and liveliness for his work is both obvious and infectious. Malcolm is the director of SPI – Scottish Paranormal Investigations. I have seen him numerous times before and he is a true expert in the paranormal field, with over 30 years experience. His lecture this time was all about photographs reportedly showing ghostly apparitions. These included many famous ones which I had seen before, and a number of newer ones which were really spooky indeed! He also showed some other photos which contained apparent apparitions of the Virgin Mary. He explained how some apparition photographs are merely tricks of the light and what is known as a simulacrum – where we put shapes together to make more sense of what we are looking at. However to counteract this he showed a number of photos which quite clearly appeared to show ghostly figures and faces, and by the end of it the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up! I’m sure many others present had a troubled night’s sleep.
Ross took to the stage at the end of the conference to congratulate the organisers and speakers. It was a fantastic two days and I will certainly be back for Weird 10 next summer.
Me, Kate, Zoe and Ian ended our trip to Warminster with a final drive back up to the white gates for some daylight photographs. The fog had started to roll in, making the copse look especially creepy. I was grateful that we had had such a clear night on the Saturday. With one final glance round the sky, we departed for home, confident that this would not be the last time we would stand upon Cradle Hill on the look out for UFOs…
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2009