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Brave challengers to take on Chillingham Castle Scarefest for the Sunshine Fund

Hi Sunshine News readers,

Things are feeling very spooky at The Sunshine Fund this week as we prepare for our Halloween scarefest challenge! On Sunday 22nd October, a group of us will be braving a night at Chillingham Castle – one of the most haunted castles in the UK – where we will be exploring all its grounds, and trying to make contact to the other side…

While this will be my first year taking on the challenge, it will be the third year we’ve been given exclusive access to Chillingham Castle as a charity, and when I say exclusive I mean it; our wonderful friends at the castle (no, not the ghosts…) give us full access to areas that are usually closed to the public (for good reason some may say, and as we might just discover…). Most famously, we’ll be entering the dungeon, or ‘the torture chamber’ as some may call it, which is located beneath the tearoom.

This got closed off to the public following the conduction of a séance. All we know is that the outcome of the séance was so terrifying, the room was deemed too scary to open to visitors.

GHOST HUNTERS: All challengers will be given their own ghost hunting t-shirt

We will also be the only group on-site, making us prime targets for the resident ghosts, especially as we’ll be teaming up with local medium, Stephen Crawford, and a team from Spiritus Paranormal. We’re so excited to have these guys on board again, as they bring with them a wealth of knowledge about the castle’s history, as well as a whole load of professional paranormal investigative equipment that will be used to detect spirits and to try and communicate with those who have passed.

The castle is brimming with gruesome history, and while I’ve tried my best to avoid reading too much into it before our visit, curiosity naturally got the better of me and I’ve carried out a bit of research, making me slightly more nervous for Sunday. The shocking goings on of Chillingham Castle may be difficult to digest, but they are incredibly interesting, too.

Will ruthless executioner, John Sage, otherwise known as ‘The Butcher of the Scots’, terrorise us in his dungeon? Will we encounter the Grey family seeking revenge for their tragic end?

Perhaps we’ll hear the whispers of Lady Mary Berkely and the rustling of her long skirt as she hunts for her adulterous husband who left her for her sister all those years ago…

LAST TIME: Photos from last year's scarefest challenge

Either way, we have a great team joining us this year with a mix of people from various organisations and different backgrounds. We have some sceptics, some firm believers, and some (like me) who are torn, and haven’t had any personal experiences (yet!) to make us believe. But, if those unexplained happenings are going to happen anywhere, I think Sunday might be the time.

For the third year, we’ll be taking a group from Stagecoach, and because our Chillingham Scarefest leaves participants wanting more, we even have one person returning! Stagecoach is one of our biggest supporters, and we’re thrilled that they will also be collecting donations on selected bus routes from Sunday 22nd all the way through to Halloween.

So, if you’re travelling on one of their buses and have some change you can spare, please do think of us! All funds go towards funding specialist equipment that can dramatically improve the lives of local disabled children.

ALL DRESSED UP: Last year’s Stagecoach driver costumes

Also on the team is Gemma, whose love of all things spiritual combined with her own lived experience linking to our charity values encouraged her to apply for the challenge. She told us, “I was driven to help The Chronicle Sunshine Fund out of my own personal experiences with my 2 autistic children but also my love of the paranormal.

"As a parent of children with additional needs, I know the struggle and sacrifice as well as how fundamental charities like this are to their lives. It has been hard to fundraise and be a full-time mam as my own children are in a bad way at the moment, however it has also been my fuel, knowing that I’m helping to make a difference.

"This experience has boosted my confidence and has given me a purpose, for which I’m very grateful.”

In contrast, we will also be joined by Chris, from Cool Designs Ltd, who is yet to be convinced of any paranormal activity. When telling us what drove him to join our Halloween challenge, he said, “If I am honest, I am very open mined but not exactly a believer as I have had no reason to believe so far.

"I am excited to be joining as it isn’t something I would normally do but my daughter is extremely interested, and I agreed to come along with her. As someone who is very logical, if I can explain something in my head then I won’t be scared.

"It is when I can’t come up with any logical explanation, that will be when the adrenaline will kick in and the fight or flight will take over. I honestly don’t know how I will feel on the night or during it but it will have to be very real for me to be scared or in awe.”

Wish us luck for Sunday’s Spooky Stayover, I will be back next week to tell you all about it; how it went, and whether my views on the paranormal have changed…

Thanks for reading!

Sophie X