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We survived our Chillingham Castle Scarefest... And what an experience it was!

Hi Sunshine News readers,


Those who read last week’s column will know that last weekend we took on our infamous Chillingham Castle Scarefest challenge. After much anticipation, nerves and the additional worry that Storm Babet would scupper our plans, we are pleased to say that the evening went smoothly.


Well, as smoothly as spending a night in the UK’s most haunted castle can be, at least…

While lack of signal prevented us from posting any footage on the night, we did manage to capture some content, which you can see on our TikTok (@sunshinefund) or on our YouTube – scan the QR code below to take a look!


The evening began as the sun was setting, driving through the glorious Northumberland countryside treated us to stunning views of the sun setting over fields. However, the closer we got to Chillingham Castle, the darker the skies became, and the atmosphere became more and more sinister.


Arriving at the castle, which loomed over us in all its glory, we instantly got chills as the ambience alone just feels… dark. We were greeted by Richard, resident ghost hunter, storyteller and historian at the castle.


One of our first questions was what his most experienced spirit, presence, ghost (whatever you want to call it) was, and he explained the legend of ‘Timothy’. He told us how ‘Timothy’ was a ‘demonic spirit’ that haunted the castle and its grounds, and that when visitors try communicating with the other side, it lures people into a false sense of security by calling itself ‘Timmy’.


According to Richard, it’s when this malevolent being calls itself ‘Tim’ that you need to be afraid.


This was all very spooky but in honesty, it seemed a little farfetched, until our Charity Director, Siobhan (who had kept unusually quiet throughout this interaction), confessed that on last year’s visit, our medium and paranormal investigative team made contact to a spirit that went by the name ‘Tim’. Having not met Richard before, let alone never hearing that story before, the hairs on the backs of our necks certainly started to rise when we heard this.

SPOOKY: Photos from the Chillingham Castle experience

Timothy made its presence aware throughout the entire evening, and each interaction became creepier and creepier. Not to mention the various sounds, sightings and sensations that were noted by each participant, even the sceptics(!), during the challenge.


Knocking, banging, dragging furniture, whistling, cold breezes, hair pulling and footsteps passing a lit doorway… these were amongst just a many unexplained experiences of the evening. Each room had its own unique occurrences; from witnessing one of our challengers, who perhaps aired on the side of scepticism, moving and speaking involuntarily whilst being used as a ‘pendulum’ in which a ‘spirit’ would use his body as a vessel to respond to yes or no questions, to a Ouija board planchette moving despite those taking part switching around and lifting there hands so that nobody was even touching it.


While this was the third year of our Chillingham Castle Scarefest, it was personally my first time participating in the challenge, and despite being spooked out for most of the evening, I can confidently say it was such a fun night and I already can’t wait to go back next year (though Siobhan doesn’t seem so keen!).

LOOKING THE PART: Chillingham Scarefest T-shirts

Last week we also heard from a couple of our participants who shared their thoughts and expectations ahead of the night. One of these was Gemma Danks, whose love of the paranormal and her personal experiences as a parent of children with additional needs drove her to apply for the challenge.


Her enthusiasm was evident throughout the night and as we left she said she’d definitely want to join again. In her words: “I felt safe amongst the team but terrified at the same time! I was happy to be a part of helping a lovely charity”.

THE TEAM: Team members from the Scarefest event

We also spoke to Mark Hewitson, owner of much-loved Newcastle chippy, ‘The Canny Cod’. Mark got a group together who provided some great craic on the night.


They even brought some camera equipment of their own which they left in the chapel (arguably the scariest room hosting the most activity), to record any unusual happenings that occurred while we left the room. We could hear disturbing sounds and some participants claimed to be drawn to the room by seeing things in the corner of their eyes, so we’ll be very interested (and nervous) to see if they picked anything up!


When asking him how he found the evening, Mark said: “Wow… So where do I start? On arrival it became instantly clear this was going to be one hell of a night due to the sheer scale of the castle, it was so intimidating and overwhelming and from first point of entry it felt like we were already being watched!


"Before the event I was probably in the middle of being both a believer and a non-believer, but after all the occurrences within the castle, I’ve been swayed more on the side of believing. I wanted to take part in all tasks at hand so I could decide for myself and my goodness there were certain things I just can’t explain! What a tremendous event from start to finish.”


I think it’s fair to say that even the most sceptical amongst us each experienced things beyond explanation, and while I may be even more confused about my personal beliefs now, I really hope everybody had as much fun as we did. We’d like to thank everybody who came and took part, and for their fantastic fundraising efforts.

Donations are still coming in and being counted and we can’t wait to see how much we raised. Every penny will have a huge impact on local disabled children, who are patiently waiting for the life-changing equipment that fundraisers like these allow us to continue to fund.


We’d also like to thank Medium & Spiritualist, Stephen Crawford, and the team at Spiritus Paranormal for joining us on Sunday and for offering their expertise, and to Richard from Chillingham Castle, whose extensive knowledge on the building and its history, and his talent for storytelling sent shivers down all of our spines. Without these experts leading on activities, I fear that the evening would have been spent cowering away in the well-lit tearoom if myself and Siobhan were left in charge of guiding everybody around!

EXPERTS: (From left to right) Wayne Williams from Spiritus Paranormal, Richard from Chillingham Castle, and Medium & Spiritualist Stephen Crawford

Lastly, a special thanks to Stagecoach, who have been bucket collecting on their buses all week as part of their Chillingham Castle fundraising. They will continue collections right up until Halloween, so keep an eye out for nuns, vampires and corpse brides driving you about, and if you can spare anything (even if it’s just pennies), please do give what you can.


Thanks for reading – we’ll see you next week as we talk all about our Halloween Sensory Session!


Sophie X

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