ASSAP: Paranormal Research
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ASSAP History: 'Marking the years'
by Val Hope

History Index

Merchandising

The 25th anniversary spurred us into action to produce a new T-shirt design - the last one had come out in 1997 and was reprinted in 1999 after its popularity had been revealed in the membership survey. It was a tasteful black number with the logo in a discreet position on the front and a splendid pyramid of letters on the back. The survey also revealed that a surprising number of members wanted ASSAP mugs, pens, pencils and clipboards. We had tried diaries in the early days, but the cost of producing small numbers of anything meant this option was not economical and the quality often disappointing. At one stage we considered producing a set of limited edition prints of Anomaly covers, but uncertainties over potential take-up meant that this was another inspired idea plonked unceremoniously back on the shelf. However, the new T-shirt was designed by Wendy Milner and launched at the Worcester conference.

AGMs

The AGM is the place for official business, announcement of the results of elections to the Executive and discussions of the accounts, successes, failures and plans for the future. Dr Vernon Harrison presented the Constitution at ASSAP’s first AGM, and the Bristol AGM was combined with the first meeting of the regional investigation coordinators.

For the first half of our history the AGM was preceded by an accompanying lecture programme covering a wide range of subjects in an effort to get members to attend. An early AGM in Leicester featured journalist and author (and Da Vinci Code extra) Lynn Picknett on JOTTs - these are described as ‘just one of those things’, such as when a tennis ball was seen to pass through the net at Wimbledon, televised for all to see. In 1991 the speakers were David Christie-Murray on reincarnation and Hilary Evans presenting his theory that phenomena were caused by forces from within the individual. In 1992 BUFORA’s chairman John Spencer told the audience that solutions to the problems in ufology were being found in paranormal research, echoing ASSAP's cross-disciplinary approach, while Steve Wilson chose the Victorian occult revival as his subject matter. In 1994 we were in Blackpool, with Gary Rowe entertaining us with the famous Cheshire ‘haunted computer’ case, and Jenny Randles making a welcome return visit to the Northern Group’s home town to discuss time travel. Other subjects have included the paranormal experiences of famous people, materialization, and spontaneous phenomena. When we decided to combine the AGM with the training day with effect from 1995 there was no longer sufficient time to have talks, so the lecture series came to an end. However, this new arrangement did produce record attendance figures!

The locations for AGMs have shown ASSAP’s wanderlust. We’ve been all over the country in an attempt to bring ASSAP to the provinces, rather than expecting all members to converge on London. The time of year has been changed, after heavy snowfalls in Liverpool (1984) and Bristol (1985) made travel to and from the events difficult. Other places we’ve held the AGM include Birmingham, Sheffield, Bromley (followed by fireworks in Phil Walton’s back garden) and, combined with training days, in Charlton House, Belgrave Hall, Woodchester Mansion, a hotel outside Milton Keynes, and Margam, South Wales.

ASSAP at 10, 20 and 25

ASSAP celebrated its 10th birthday in 1991 with a party in the Ancient Ram, a former inn in the Cotswold town of Wotton-under-Edge that had a well-publicized history of reports of ghostly phenomena. A minibus-load of members driven by John Merron set off early one morning from north London and cooked up a feast at the old inn after being joined by others who had arrived from other directions. The party was followed next day by a trip round a scattering of Wiltshire crop circles, lunch in Avebury and a visit to Stonehenge on the way home for the London contingent.

The 20th anniversary in 2001 saw us in Bedern Hall in York, another building with claims to be haunted. Planning for this event began in late 2000, when we encouraged members to nominate suitable venues for a get-together and started publishing a series of photos from the archives. Members came to York from all over the country to attend a day of lectures broken up by cake-eating and a song from President Lionel Fanthorpe. Phil Walton opened the day with a review of ASSAP’s achievements, ticking them off against a list of aims referred to by founder member Bob Rickard in an article from 1982. Mike White’s demonstration looked at colour perception, and Chris Huff presented a report on hauntings in northern England. The evening saw those who had stayed on take part in walk around haunted York, conducted by a local tour guide with a talent for ghastly ghostly tales. Anomaly 28 celebrated our 20th anniversary with a special edition looking back at old colleagues and cases, and the day in York is featured in ASSAP News 84.

Founders with the Pres: (L-R) Maurice Townsend, Lionel Fanthorpe, John Merron, Hugh PincottThe 25th anniversary fell in 2006 and was celebrated in September with a joint conference with 20-year-old stripling Parasearch in Worcester. Speakers were Lionel Fanthorpe, Lionel Beer, Paul Devereux and John Spencer, and the event was coordinated by David Taylor. Bucks Fizz and cakes were passed round, and ASSAP founder members Hugh Pincott, Maurice Townsend and John Merron posed for a photo at the end of the conference with President Lionel Fanthorpe (left) before retiring to the bar to mull over the olden days.
© Valerie Hope 2007