OVER the last week or so, more than 300 people have visited a crop circle at Weir Farm in Broad Hinton.

Each has paid a small sum to Paul Jacobs, founder of a liaison group called Core Group Initiative, for an informal guided tour.

Every penny of that sum - more than £900 so far - will go to Brighter Futures, the charity which aims to give Great Western Hospital its own radiotherapy unit.

The welcome for visitors, like the support for the charity, would not be possible without the agreement of farmer James Hussey, who lost his wife, Gill, to cancer four years ago, and for whom Paul has immense admiration.

CGI, which has been running for six years, works with many farmers across the country.

“CGI won’t dictate,” said Paul. “We merely say, ‘We’d like to work with you and we’d like to involve a charity chosen by yourselves.’

“I started it with this idea of charity – to act as a catalyst.

“When I first came to the crop circle community 10 years ago, there were two things that were highlighted in my mind. The first thing was the conflict associated with the visitors and the farmers. The other one, predictably, was, ‘Is it done by people or is it done by someone else?.’

“I couldn’t know about the second thing but I could help to do something about the first – the conflict.

“So I came up with this idea to somehow be a go-between. Everybody likes charity. It will soften down the edges of a subject which hitherto has been very prickly.

“It really blossomed from there. I started camping in the landscape and helping farmers with a service which is people, land and traffic management – meet and greet, collect the money for the chosen charity, all in a package and completely free.

“I’m not interested in money. I don’t say that in an arrogant way – I’m an independent person and I have my own money.”

Originally from Sussex, Paul is based in East Anglia and travels the country in a distinctive vintage French camper van.

After beginning a study of engineering, he moved on to a successful career in property renovation and development.

He dates his fascination with crop formations to 1998, when he learned of an especially complex example on a hillside near Cambridge, an enormous visual representation of a fearsomely complex number sequence known as a Mandelbrot set.

He gradually became more interested over the next decade.

Paul has a strict approach to investigation.

“I’m a researcher and I don’t ‘believe’ anything. I accept facts and evidence that I either discover or become aware of. Belief is a subjective luxury that a researcher doesn’t have.

“If I observe something that I believe is relevant, then I report that and document that.

“As for what is responsible? What I say to people if they really press me is, ‘I can tell you confidently who is not responsible,’ because I can utterly prove it, no question.

“I can say that human beings absolutely cannot do this. They might be able to do a very simple one without biophysical anomalies – changes to the material at cellular level – but what is responsible for this is totally inexplicable.”

The main biophysical anomaly, he says, is the way in which stalks are bent and stretched at joints known as nodes.

“The agency, as I generally call it, has to be highly evolved and capable because these things happen very quickly, and sometimes they happen in the middle of the day in broad daylight.”

He entertains the possibility of an extra-terrestrial source, some form of artificial intelligence - or forces or entities which have always been here but which we are incapable as yet of comprehending.

“It has to be very capable and it seems benign.”

Paul rejects the notion of all formations being hoaxes.

“The whole idea is absurd. They would need such multiple skills. They’d have to be organised and they’d have to have been able to co-ordinate on a global basis, year on year, for 40 years.

“The whole idea that they can put down something like this at night, for heaven’s sake, which would require a chartered surveyor with total station theodolite technology – those things on tripods – which is what is used for mapping out areas of newbuild…

“It would take you days.”

Paul once observed a crew attempting to create a fairly simple circle for television.

“I watched them for the best part of nine hours – oh my god, it was so tedious!

“I went in there. It was okay – the geometry was not bad but it was a simple design and it didn’t have any finesse.

“Human beings just aren’t equipped with the necessary practical acumen or technical expertise for the sheer magnitude of an average crop circle, which can be anything up to a thousand feet in diameter. It’s an absurd notion.”

Further information can be found at coregroupinitiative.com