Tom Harrison passes

The Spiritualist movement is infinitely poorer for the passing of Tom Harrison, one of its most tireless and dedicated ambassadors.

Tom, who passed peacefully on October 23 at the age of 92, had been admitted to hospital the previous day following a brain haemorrhage, thought to have resulted from an earlier fall. Though in a deep coma, he was in the company of his beloved wife Ann, daughter Wendy, and son Alan.

Tom and Ann Harrison

What can one say of a man who spoke for an unconventional truth without fear or favour for more than seven decades?

Spiritualism was in Tom’s blood. He was born into a Middlesbrough Spiritualist family on August 8, 1918. His mother, Minnie, would later become one of the world’s most powerful materialisation mediums, a fact that would influence the entire course of Tom’s life in ways he could never have imagined. His Aunt Agg, Minnie’s sister, was a respected trance medium, and was one of the mediums who gave the legendary Arthur Findlay some of the outstanding evidence contained in his revolutionary book, On the Edge of the Etheric.

On April 2, 1940, while home on leave from the British Expeditionary Force stationed in France, Tom married Doris Hudson. They had become friendly in their teens through a shared association with the local Lyceum. Together they had six children – Colin, Mavis, Joyce, Alan,  Derek and Wendy.

From April 6, 1946 Tom and Doris were part of a unique home circle known as The Saturday Night Club, a small group of family, friends and occasional fortunate guests who witnessed wonders that Spiritualists of today can only dream about. From that time until the passing of Minnie Harrison, Tom and his fellow circle members were privileged to meet and talk with literally hundreds of materialised spirit people, all completely visible in good red light in the small back room of a house in Middlesbrough.

In his own words: “[They returned] not as fleeting, passing visions in somebody’s mind, not even as wispy, transparent ghosts or spectres. They returned in fully-functioning, warm, heart-beating physical bodies. They returned and spoke with the same-sounding voices you would recognise. They returned with the same laughter, the same personality; and as you thrilled to feel their arms embracing you, and even kisses from their lips – the same love.”

In 1958 Minnie Harrison lost her battle with cancer and the remarkable sittings of the Saturday Night Club came to an end. Tom lamented the loss of his mother, to whom he was very close, and also the loss of the extraordinary physical contact with the Spirit World they had enjoyed for so long. The following year, he and Doris moved south to the village of Eton Wick, near Windsor, so that Tom could take up a job as national manager of an engineering company. Four years later change was in the air again, and they embarked on the ambitious project of opening a restaurant in Cornwall. The restaurant thrived, Tom and Doris felt settled and content, and planned to put down roots. The spirit people had other ideas…

In 1966 the weekly Spiritualist newspaper Psychic News carried an advert for a founder manager to run the newly created Arthur Findlay College at Stansted. Tom had long felt there was a need for a centre where people could come and study Spiritualism and psychic science, and immediately applied for the job. His application was successful, and the Harrison family was once again on the move. Committed as ever to his work for spirit, Tom had expected to remain in the job for many years, but it was not to be. As he later wrote, “…a most unpleasant political intrigue caused great managerial problems” and though, urged by the spirit people, he agreed to stick out the situation a little longer, by 1968 things had reached an impasse and the family returned to Eton Wick. “I was terribly disappointed,” Tom wrote, “but feeling so much happier away from all the unpleasantness at the College at that time.”

Back on the job market, he returned to his former company, eventually becoming manager of their accounts office. Doris passed to spirit in 1976 at the age of just 59, a huge loss to Tom and his children, but he continued  to travel the country, speaking about his mother’s mediumship, and working as a freelance accounts adviser.

Meanwhile, another physical medium was busy developing in a  home circle in Yorkshire. Stewart Alexander had heard of  the amazing events which had taken place through Tom’s mother’s mediumship and decided to write to him. The two men came face to face for the first time in 1991 at a meeting of the Noah’s Ark Society for Physical Mediumship. They forged a strong and enduring friendship, culminating in Tom’s becoming a member of Stewart’s home circle.

Stewart told me that he was extremely sad at Tom’s passing and thanked him for his “long, unwavering friendship.” He added: “For several years we were highly honoured to have both Tom and Ann Harrison as members of our circle. Following their relocation to Spain in January 2000 they became honorary members, visiting the circle whenever they were back in the UK. To say that Tom was a deeply valued friend whose wise, gentle counsel and support we were extraordinarily blessed to have, would be an understatement.”

Tom and Ann had married in 1998 and found great happiness and contentment together. Even as Tom’s health became increasingly fragile following the onset of Parkinson’s disease, he continued  undeterred to spread word of the wonders he had witnessed through his mother’s mediumship, and in this he was enormously supported by Ann, who cared for him with extraordinary love and devotion. He once said to me that she had become so involved in his work that she now knew more about his life than he did!

In later years, Tom and Ann would share the platform during Tom’s talks and lectures, he telling his story and Ann sitting at her laptop illustrating it with many of the remarkable photos that were taken during Saturday Night Club sittings. Only seven weeks ago he delivered that talk during the annual J.V. Trust Week at Stansted Hall, at the invitation of J.V.’s chairman, Eric Hatton, who had known Tom for many decades.

“The passing of Tom to the Spirit World leaves a void which will be difficult, if not impossible, to fill,” Eric told me. “He was the epitome of everything a Spiritualist should be. He radiated spirituality and gentleness to all whom he touched, those being facets of  a personality cultivated through a lifetime of close contact with the Spirit World, largely through the remarkable mediumship of his mother, Minnie.

“My association with Tom goes back to the early days of Stansted Hall, when, as the first manager, he showed leadership and restraint during the period when the College came into being and needed a dedicated hand on the tiller to see it through rough seas. By virtue of his nature and wisdom, Tom played a considerable part in ensuring that Arthur Findlay’s dream became a reality. I shall truly miss his friendship, but I shall reflect long upon the privilege I had in knowing him.”

It has been my own great privilege to know Tom and Ann well in recent years and to hear many of Tom’s extraordinary experiences from his own lips. His recall of events so many years old was as clear as crystal, and his integrity and honesty shone brightly, leaving not a shadow of doubt that he spoke the truth.

As the late Professor David Fontana wrote in his introduction to Tom’s 2004 book, Life After Death: Living Proof:  “Tom is a man of transparent integrity, with no ambition for personal status or reward.  His only interest in recounting the experiences he had with his home circle is to share with us the total conviction these experiences have given him of the reality of life after death. This conviction has left him with a deep humility and a spiritual presence that endears him to all those who meet him.”

There is no doubt that Tom will have made a swift and easy transition to the next world, for if ever there was one who knew where he was headed, it was Tom. It goes without saying that he will have been met by a joyous company of loved ones and friends, all eager to welcome home a true pioneer of spirit.

  • Sue’s tribute to Tom was first published on Roy Stemman’s and is reproduced with Roy’s kind permission. Roy’s website also contains his own tribute to David Fontana.

11 responses to “Tom Harrison passes

  1. I’m so saddened by Toms passing….I’m sad because i did not get the chance to meet him And a little bit upset that spirit took him home just like that. What upsets me the most is we have lost such a wonderful man full of true understanding of the workings of physical mediumship some that is not witnessed today….Soon all the the people that have witnessed true physical mediumship will all go home to spirit and leave the younger mediums to just read books on what was possible…The worst thing is there soon physical mediumship will be a thing of the past and that upsets me so much, However i wish you the best in your new life Tom. How could i deny the spirit world a wonderful man like you Tom. I’ll just have to read my books and live in hope physical mediumship will one day come back…

  2. A great man has passed to spirit – may your journey be joyful and happy- thanks for what you did for the Spiritualism and the movment:-)) – your wisdom will remain for ever.
    Love Jane Lyzell at the Spiritualist College Ramsbergsgarden, Sweden

  3. Norman Hutt

    Tom’s lectures were so inspirational. Having seen the ultimate proof for himself, he loved to share his knowledge. Another big loss to Spiritualism.

  4. Terry Gardener

    We were privileged to hear and then meet Tom at Stansted many years ago.
    His lecture enthralled and inspired us. We went on to sit in and develop a wonderful home circle in which we were able to witness some of the amazing things that he described all those years ago, and very often we spoke of our meeting with him. A truly wonderful ambassador for what he knew to be the truth … his path to the light is assured!

  5. I had the privilege to meet Tom & Ann earlier this year.
    The meeting with them will stay with me forever, Tom & Ann gave me a book about Minnie Harrison its a great read.My thoughts will always be with you both.


  6. I met Tom many years ago as a newspaper journalist fascinated with survival of death and spent many hours chatting to him on the phone.
    Then years later myself and a partner spent a wonderful evening with Tom and Ann delighting in Tom’s recounting of his amazing experiences in physical mediumship.
    Later we met Tom and Ann in Spain while we were on holiday.
    I had the privilege of helping just a little with his book and secured a long interview for him on the Jeff Rense show on American radio – I still have the CD of that.
    Bon Voyage dear Tom – you really are a kind and gentle man always with a twinkle in your eyes and the warmest of hearts.
    No doubt he and his dear friend David Fontana are already chinwagging over there!

  7. Andrew Russell

    I had both the honour and the privilege of meeting Tom in May 1995 at Manchester Spiritualist Church, where his lecture on Visits By Our Friends From The ”Other Side” strengthened my interest in physical phenomena. Having spoken to Tom briefly after the lecture and posing several questions, he indicated he was pushed for time but assured me he would write to me with the answers to my questions. Sure enough in a little over two weeks a letter arrived through the letterbox with those answers (which I still have along with the booklet from his lecture) ! Now how many people nowadays would do the same ……… ?! Many thanks Tom, you were an inspiration.

  8. I was lucky enough to meet Mr Tom Harrison. He was a very kind, gentle and extremely generous man. Seeing the other comments I know I was right in my estimation that he was a person of integrity. I enjoyed the lecture that he gave.

  9. It was with a shock and no little sadness, I read today that Tom Harrison had passed to spirit. That he had “a good innings” as they say, in no way diminishes the amount his wise and friendly presence will be missed.

    I met Ann and Tom several years ago at Stansted and he was also a friend of my Aunt Gladys, the late Gladys Owen MSNU of Liverpool Daulby Church. He kindly gave his permission to use, in my illustrated lectures about Trance and Physical mediumship, some of the pictures of ectoplasm from his book and I am forever in his debt.

    There is rejoicing in heaven at Tom’s arrival but we shall miss you greatly Tom and my loving thoughts go to Ann and the family.

    Lionel (Former President of the ISF)

  10. Tom was a wonderful, gentle ambassador for Spirit. His knowledge and love will live on through all of us who knew him over the years. Spirit has gained a true pioneer. God Bless Tom

  11. Dear Tom x What can I say ? only goodbye to your physical self and hello to your true spiritual self. Thank you so much for your help and support in my early days of physical mediumship and giving me the strength and will to continue. I am sure that your ascent was wonderful and the reunion with family and friends amazing. Your return is most welcomed.
    Just knowing this wonderful man is truly an honour.
    Love and light in your progression
    Bye for now – Love Kate xx

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