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Behind the scenes with... Gerard Smith  Gerard Smith is widely regarded as one of the most gifted and accurate evidential mediums in Spiritualism. The embodiment of integrity and humility, he never seeks publicity, but editor Sue Farrow managed (gently, of course!) to twist his arm...

Medium Gerard Smith with Sue Farrow
Medium Gerard Smith with Sue Farrow

How old were you when you first had a ‘paranormal’ experience, and what was it?

I was about 11 or 12. In those days there used to be a mobile grocery shop that came round. I had a dream in connection with that grocery shop that somebody had died. I woke up and thought it was just a bad dream, and I remember my father coming in and telling me not to worry, everything was all right. A week later the wife of the man with the mobile shop passed away. That occasion would just have been telepathy, though, not awareness of spirit, and certainly not any understanding of spirit. That didn’t come until until I went to a Spiritualist church.

Did you have a particular teacher or helper who mentored you?

After I’d attended Longton Spiritualist Church for some time, Gordon Higginson’s mother, Fanny, invited me to join a group she was starting on a Thursday evening. I told her it was not for me, but she said firmly, ‘It’s not what you want, it’s what the spirit world wants!’ I wasn’t remotely interested, because I didn’t imagine there would be anything in the way of development for me, but she was determined and told me I had to be there by 7.15pm.

Down a corridor there were five healing rooms and she chose the end one which looked out onto a very busy main road at the front of the building. I thought to myself, ‘Well, of all the rooms to choose, she has chosen this one!’ For eight months we sat on hard wooden chairs from 7.30 to 8.45 and never spoke a word. If Mrs Higginson thought you were nodding off, she would give you a prod with a long garden cane!

Did you feel anything at all happening during that time? Sense anyone, see anyone?

No, nothing at all. I then moved into a circle within the church, a development circle with another lady in charge. I sat in that for maybe a year and never saw a thing. Not a single thing.

So were you thinking, “What am I doing here?”

I was, yes, but I still enjoyed sitting there quietly – it was a lovely feeling. The circle leader would go round us all to see if we’d received any impressions, and from time to time Mrs Higginson would come into the room. On one of those occasions the circle leader was going round as usual and said to me, ‘Nothing?’ but Mrs Higginson insisted, ‘You’ve got something.’

There were two sisters in the circle at the time and as I looked round them, I thought, ‘Where has she come from?’ I could see another person who hadn’t been there when we started, but when I closed my eyes she was still there, and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness me!’ Mrs Higginson told me to stand up and I said, ‘But I haven’t got anyone,’ and she said, ‘Oh, you have.’ Then she took a pen out of her bag and wrote something on a bit of paper, folded it up and said to me: ‘Now, say what you have got. Just give a little bit of description to the ladies.’ Well, I did, and to my amazement the sisters said, ‘Oh, that’s our aunt!’ Then Mrs Higginson passed me the piece of paper and I saw that what she had written was ‘Olive and Olwen’s aunt’. It was confirmation of what I had said.

So that was your first ever message?

Yes, and that’s how it all started – very gradually. Then I got into a good home circle as well, and a lot of development took place there. The members were all established older Spiritualists, and I was the young one, but they were very nice people, and the development was a very gradual thing. I sat in that circle for fifteen years, and it was there that I met a wonderful Spiritualist named Mrs Ada Timmis. She was remarkable, and became a wonderful friend and mentor to me – a beautiful soul who passed to spirit in 1997.

Eventually I started to do some work locally but I went out with a speaker. She did the address and I did the mediumship. Gordon Higginson encouraged that.

What made you decide to make mediumship your life, rather than having a ‘normal’ job?

I never actually had it in mind to do it full time. But one day, in church, Gordon Higginson said that he wanted to speak to me. He told me that in a few months’ time I was going to have some news regarding work. He told me I shouldn’t worry about it, because ‘you’ll be doing what I am doing by next year’. He added that I’d never be well off, but I’d always have enough. I was in a state of disbelief, but it happened exactly as he’d said.

You see, hear and sense spirit communicators. Does one of those faculties dominate when you’re working?

I think two of them do – clairvoyance and clairaudience. But  I would say the clairvoyance is most prominent because a lot of the time I’m very visually aware of the spirit communicator.

You are well known for going direct to the recipient of a message, rather than giving out information in the hope of discovering who can accept it. Does your strong clairvoyance assist you with that, and if so, how?

Yes, I think it’s connected with that, because I often see the communicator near to the recipient.

What, in your opinion, is the most important purpose of mediumship? 

The most important thing, I think, is to bring that love from the spirit communicator so close, to bring the awareness of the two worlds into reality.

There’s a lot of perceived ‘kudos’ attached to being a medium these days, with many people taking courses and workshops. Leaving aside the vexed question of whether mediumship can actually be ‘learned’, do you think enough is taught about the enormous responsibility of being a working medium?

I think a lot of people are totally unaware of the huge responsibility and implications behind mediumship. Some are wanting to be ‘doing’ it but not realising just how it can alter and change the course of lives.

Gerard Smith

There are so many courses covering mediumship these days, and I think those fundamental things should most definitely be incorporated into the teaching.

Do you think that compassion and empathy are prerequisites for a good and honourable medium?

I would certainly like to think so, but it isn’t always the case. I’m sure, though, that on some level it could perhaps make all the difference.

Turning to the mundane, what are your hobbies/interests when you are not working?

I enjoy gardening, creative writing, poetry, literature and listening to music. I also like doing collage and other artistic things. I certainly wouldn’t want to be fiddling about with anything mechanical, and definitely not anything electronic!


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