THERE seems to be a rule that mediums – people who say they can communicate with the dead – must conform to one of two stereotypes.
The first is a flamboyant TV personality prone to histrionics, bad hair and ‘possession’; and the second is an elderly person exuding groans and ectoplasm during a front parlour seance.
Then there’s Andrew Dee, a 6ft 5ins 47-year-old former RAF officer who says his big spiritual awakening came in the Iraqi desert a few years ago.
On Thursday he appears at the Arts Centre in Swindon, just across Devizes Road from the Spiritualist Church where he gave his first reading while stationed at RAF Lyneham.
At the time his military role was to provide welfare communications to soldiers, sailors and airmen around the globe, so they could contact their loved ones while away on operations.
“However,” Andrew recalled, “here I was, a complete novice, about to embark on another journey that involved communications with loved ones, albeit from a higher source.”
The meeting was run by church member Jeff Woodhouse, who invited Andrew to describe what he experienced.
Andrew said: “A man called Jim was sitting opposite me and I could see mechanical valves of some description ‘overlaid’ somehow onto his shirt, if that makes sense.
“There was other information that I passed on to Jim about wanting to bang my foot on the floor because it felt as though it kept going dead through poor circulation.
“To my amazement, Jim was able to confirm all of the things I had picked up about him but especially that he had had heart trouble and he did have poor circulation, but a lot of these things had eased since he had mechanical replacement heart valves earlier that year...”
Andrew is married to Moira, and the couple have two sons. The family lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
He was born into a pub and hotel-keeping family in Liverpool and joined the RAF as an airman at 19. Commissioned after eight years, he was to serve for a total of 22 and retire as a Flying Officer in 2009.
His career included everything from aircraft electrical systems to satellite communications. Such a background seems to jar against his current role, but Andrew says he’s been experiencing supernatural phenomena since childhood.
“I used to close my eyes and see faces I didn’t recognise,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do about it.”
That first reading in Swindon followed a medium friend’s urging that he develop what she called his gift, but soon afterwards Andrew was posted to Iraq. It was there, he said, that another event happened to set him on his current path.
Walking near his accommodation he saw what he thought was a ring-pull glinting in the sand, but discovered it to be the ring of a novelty keyring in the shape of a clog.
He was stunned, for a reason he went on to explain: “At that moment, everything in my mind began to swirl and I suddenly felt a rush, almost like I was not in control of my own thoughts.
“For a split second my grandfather – on my mother’s side – was with me and had completely enveloped me with his presence.
“What I have not told you is that my grandfather was Dutch – in fact they both were. They settled in Liverpool after World War Two and raised families there.
“Not only that, clogs are very significant for my family. My father had a restaurant named Clogs and even today as I write this, there is a wall in The Pineapple Hotel in Liverpool that has at least 30 clogs hanging up, many of which were souvenirs brought over from Holland by visiting family or from our frequent visits to Holland.”
On leaving the RAF in 2009 Andrew worked for the family business while making more appearances as a medium. His Swindon show is part of a national tour.
He welcomes believers and sceptics alike, and even tells a story of encountering a sceptic at a show and telling his grown-up child: “Your dad didn’t believe in all this – he thought it was a load of mumbo jumbo and that when you’re dead you’re dead.
“When he died he said, ‘Well, that’s me gone then,’ but now he’s come to say, ‘Here I am...’”
Andrew’s Arts Centre appearance on Thursday starts at 7.30pm. Further information can be found at swindon.gov.uk/artscentre