Page last updated at 22:01 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 23:01 UK

Ghost hunters take over mansion

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Glass 'divination'
Glass "divination" was just one of the psychic experiments at Raehills

It is close to midnight and I am standing and staring at an empty glass - waiting to see if it starts moving of its own accord.

I call upon any spirits in the historic library to make their presence known.

Stubbornly, they refuse to answer my invocation and the glass remains fixed in the same position.

It is safe to say that this is one of the most unusual ways I have ever spent a Friday night.

The whole thing is part of "Fright Night" proceedings organised to help raise funds for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

They could hardly have selected a better venue.

Raehills House - historic home of the earls of Annandale - is one of the most atmospheric buildings in southern Scotland.

As our car makes its way north of Dumfries in the fading spring light, I try to crack a few jokes with a journalistic colleague doing the driving.

"Are you nervous?" she asks.

I had been hoping it was not quite so obvious.

My reasons for attending the event were, to be perfectly honest, two-fold.

The first was pure and simple curiosity.

Raehills House
Raehills House provided an atmospheric setting for the evening

I had never attended an event of this kind before and was interested to find out what went on.

The second motive was a little less honourable.

I had a sneaking hope that my old Italian grandmother might make contact with me via medium Derek Acorah who was guest of honour at the event.

She died before I had time to ask her for a few recipes I would like to know.

Proceedings at Raehills got under way with an small "audience" with Mr Acorah in the drawing room.

He said he had sensed a number of spirits residing in the house.

He also had some direct messages for several of the guests attending the event.

I admit I am highly dubious about such things but many people seemed impressed by the accuracy of his words.

Members of the Borders Paranormal Group and their Dumfries and Galloway counterparts, Mostly Ghostly, appeared appreciative.

Once the audience had ended, we were given a little run down on the real purpose of the night - supporting the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Overall, it was a worthwhile trip, if only to see what goes on at such occasions

There remains a need for more volunteers - particularly young men - to join the bone marrow register.

It was, to my mind anyway, the most powerful message of the night.

After that we were broken up into groups to go and hold "vigils" in rooms around the house where ghostly experiences had been reported.

This was where it all got really strange.

We were given a video camera to try to record any "orbs" of light in the room and a handheld monitor to check electro-magnetic levels.

Some glass "divination" material had been set up in the room I was allocated to try to get some straightforward "yes" or "no" answers from the spirits.

This was where I got my hands-on experience but the glass refused to budge.

Derek Acorah and Giancarlo Rinaldi
Derek Acorah was part of the proceedings at Raehills House

It did, however, move when two other women in my group took part in the experiment.

That, I admit, was a little unnerving.

The people involved swore they had not pushed the glass and had felt a "tingling" as it made its movement.

They seemed convinced that something paranormal might have just happened.

My own feelings about the night remain mixed.

It was definitely more enjoyable than I expected and the people taking part were all good fun.

There was nothing harmful in any of the proceedings as far as I could see.

But, equally, there was nothing which convinced me that there were truly spirits in the house or that they wanted to communicate with us.

Overall, it was a worthwhile trip, if only to see what goes on at such occasions.

It did not change me, however, from how I was at the outset.

I am still sceptical, open-minded - and in pursuit of a good recipe for polenta and pork bones.



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