Doris Stokes,

 Medium Doris Stokes

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 Doris Stokes

1920-1987

Early life

Stokes was born in Grantham, Britain. In her memoirs she claimed that she started seeing spirits and hearing disembodied voices in childhood, and developed these abilities further once she joined a local Spiritualist church. She was recognised as a practising clairaudient Medium by the Spiritualists' National Union in 1949.

During a crisis of confidence in 1962, she gave up her work as a Medium and retrained as a psychiatric nurse, but had to retire five years later following an attack by a patient. She returned to her psychic work, and in 1975 became the resident medium at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain.

Career

She first came to public attention in 1978 during a visit to Australia, when she appeared on The Don Lane Show. In the wave of interest that followed her appearance, she played to three capacity audiences at the Sydney Opera House. She was also the first medium to appear at the London Palladium, with the tickets selling out in two hours. In 1980, her first, ironically ghost-written, autobiographical volume, Voices In My Ear: The Autobiography of a Medium was published, pulling her further into the public eye in the UK. Over two million copies of her books were sold.

Stokes received much condemnation from the Church of England and other Christian denominations, which objected to Spirit communication as an offence to God. She would counter that her work was done for God and in accordance with the Bible's injunction to "test the Spirits to see if they [were] good".

She was also accused of using various forms of deception to achieve the effect of communicating with the dead. These included cold reading, eavesdropping, and planting accomplices in the audience. Guardian columnist Simon Hoggart claims that Stokes' husband, John Stokes, would take information from those who called to ask for sittings, offer them free tickets for public performances, then forward their information to his wife to be presented during the show. However, positive testimonials continue to come forward from Eamonn Holmes and Dale Winton.

In her book, Voices in my Ear, Stokes claimed that she had solved two murder cases in England. However, Detective Chief Superintendent William Brooks of the Lancashire Constabulary stated that Stokes made no contribution whatsoever to the detection of either murder.

Whilst in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, she also claimed that local murder victim Vic Weiss had contacted her with details of his murder. Former magician and high-profile skeptic, James Randi, contacted the Los Angeles Police Department, who informed him that all of the information supplied by Stokes had been available to the media at the time. Stokes was unable to provide any new information to the police and the case remains unsolved.

When challenged, Stokes was observed to defend herself against critics with messages claimed as containing accurate information by her sitters. Her seven volumes of autobiography document the various tests she underwent to determine the source of her information. One examination involved her subject to a lie detector, another required her to undergo hypnosis and be questioned about her methods.

Described variously as "an individual of great personal warmth", "the Gracie Fields of the psychic world" and "a ruthless moneymaking confidence artist", she continued to give free consultations or "sittings" until a month before her death, when she left only 15,291.

Stokes's health was poor throughout her life. Her thirteen or so cancer operations included a mastectomy, and the April 1987 removal of a brain tumour, after which she did not regain consciousness. She died in Lewisham on 28 May 1987. At the end of her last memoir, published after her death but completed before her final operation, she reported a disembodied voice telling her "Your life on Earth is over, your life in Spirit has begun."

 

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1995 - 2011