Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 11:05 UK

Spiritualists gather for awards

By Nick Parry
BBC News

Winners will go through to the UK final later this year

Tuxedos, ball gowns, canapés, awards and champagne by the sea.

We are not talking Cannes but Tenby and those in the running for prizes are not film stars but psychics, mediums and clairvoyants.

Saturday sees the inaugural Spiritual Connections Awards for Wales - a sort of Oscars for spiritualists.

As well as recognising those who work in the spiritual, holistic and paranormal world, the aim of the black-tie do is to boost their image.

"People still perceive us as running around in floaty dresses with lots of beads, way-out hair and carrying a crystal ball," said organiser Rosemary Griffiths.

"We are trying to get people to see we are normal, with normal family lives doing normal things. We want to get that myth away from people."

For the past few months an online poll has seen people first put forward nominees and then vote for their favourites in 14 categories, ranging from male and female psychic to paranormal group to most popular book and author.

Mrs Griffiths said around 200 nominees would be attending at the De Valence Hall in the Pembrokeshire seaside resort to see the gongs handed out.

"I have had a lot of different feedback," she added.

Rosemary Griffiths
We are trying to get people to see we are normal, with normal family lives, doing normal things
Rosemary Griffiths

"A lot of people thought perhaps I was trying to put spirituality as a competition - which I wasn't. That's not what it's about. There is no such thing as best as far as spirituality is concerned - it's most popular.

"I've asked people to look at the bigger picture and that was the awareness that was going to be raised with people doing all different types of spiritual work and healing.

"Psychic, mediums and clairvoyants are people who have got wonderful gifts.

"[With] mediums, if you have got loved ones that have passed over then they will hopefully, but not always, be able to bring them through.

"That can be very healing - just knowing that your loved one, who has passed over, is safe and well can help to ease the grieving process."

The first UK-wide awards took place last year and the winners of this year's Welsh heats will go through to the national finals.

Among the more well-known mediums attending are Diane Lazarus from Carmarthenshire, Austin Charles from Neath and Suffolk's Dave Summerton.

Award categories
Female psychic/medium/clairvoyant
Male psychic/medium/clairvoyant
Spiritual church
Holistic centre
Teaching school/venue
Psychic artist
Paranormal group/tour
Paranormal event
Printed spiritual media
Supportive forum/website
Services to local community
Lifetime achievement

She said throughout the day there would be workshops and demonstrations open to the public before the awards dinner.

Mrs Griffiths said she was well aware there were many sceptics, but said the awards also covered holistic and complimentary medicines, which she said were gaining widespread acceptance.

"There are lots of different types of complimentary therapies and it's changed hugely in the last five years.

"Acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy and reflexology are becoming the norm now and a lot more acceptable than they have ever been.

"We don't say don't go orthodox. You've got to have both and that is why it's complimentary.

"If people say that it's the placebo effect - does it matter as long as you get better?"

One thing is undisputable and that is the boost the event is giving to the Tenby's economy with at least one hotel fully booked by people attending.

"It's going to be fun and hopefully it will be a fantastic evening," added Mrs Griffiths.

And she promised there would not be a crystal ball in sight.

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