Val Hope, former Deputy Chairman, Publications Officer and ASSAP News editor.
The history, up to 2007, written by Val Hope, is arranged by subject area rather than chronologically.
'ASSAP on the web'
'Outreach and the media'
'Local and other groups'
'Marking the years'
The late Tony Wells with monitoring equipment.
This history of ASSAP, written by Val Hope (left), is arranged by area of activity rather than chronologically.
The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena - a bit of a mouthful that can cause the uninitiated to trip over their tongues. You may wonder why we ever decided to give our association such a long title, but every word was considered very carefully. We are now well into our third decade. Our 25th anniversary fell in summer 2006, and in the autumn we celebrated this event with a joint conference with Parasearch in Worcester.
Back in 1981, when a group of psychical researchers, ufologists and earth mysteries researchers came together, they had very clear views on what they wanted to achieve. The multidisciplinary approach we now take for granted in ASSAP was quite novel back then. Researchers were starting to recognize that their work might not produce meaningful results if they remained in isolated, specialist groups. Therefore the new body was to be an association bringing together individuals and groups for a fruitful exchange of ideas. However, it was to be more than a talking shop or social club.
A scientific approach was regarded as vital. However, ‘scientific’ does not mean that our research and investigations have to be laboratory-based. Indeed, spontaneous events such as hauntings and poltergeists do not lend themselves to laboratory study. There was no place in the association for closed minds, whether for or against paranormal explanations. Neutrality guaranteed the application of scientific principles: gathering and weighing up evidence, testing, adapting and, where necessary, rejecting theories.
‘Parapsychology’ was viewed as too restrictive a term, excluding such things as legends and earth mysteries. ‘Psychical studies’ was also rejected on similar grounds. The all-encompassing ‘anomalous phenomena’ was a term that probably originated in the USA. It seemed to encapsulate the idea that the effects we were to study were unusual, but not necessarily paranormal and, after discussion, Hilary Evans’ suggestion for the new group’s name was accepted. Naturally, its shortened form rolls off the tongue more readily, and this is how we usually refer to ourselves: ASSAP.
The first chairman was Alan Hughes, who soon stepped down and was replaced by Maurice Townsend.
Maurice Townsend was ASSAP Chairman for 16 years. He has also served as Secretary, Treasurer and Research Officer as well as editing Anomaly for many years.
Maurice (above) served for so long, without anyone volunteering to take over, that in 2006 we are still only on our fifth chairman. In 1983 he was made Treasurer pro tem - no one ever volunteered to relieve him of that either! He also combined the roles of chairman and treasurer with that of research officer for a while.
Phil Walton succeeded Maurice as chairman after 16 years, bringing in some fresh ideas to kick-start our third decade. After nearly four years he left us to pursue life outside ASSAP.
Hugh Pincott stepped into the breach while we reorganized, then handed over to Mike White. Val Hope was selected to take over in November 2006 and would have been the first woman at the helm in ASSAP’s 25-year history.
However, she was replaced in the deputy role by Dave Wood in October 2006 after her resignation from the Executive. Dave remains chairman to this day.