Mrs Helen Duncan was born in the small county village of Callander in the Trossachs, situated a short distance from Glasgow. She married a cabinet maker and mothered a family of twelve, six of whom passed to Spirit prematurely.
From an early age she displayed the gift of mediumship. Her mediumship was of a particular type, she being the vehicle for 'physical phenomena' whilst in a trance state where 'ectoplasm' was produced for Spirit use in materialisation.
During the second world war Mrs Duncan lived in Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy. In 1943 she witnessed a sailor Spirit who informed her that he had gone down on a vessel called "Barham". This caused immense problems for her after she informed an audience of this as the authorities didn't know or disclose the same information for several months.
In January 1944 she was charged with contravening the Witchcraft Act 1735. The reason given was, following the 'Barham' incident, the government feared that the date of the D-Day landings would be revealed. After a lengthy trail the jury found her guilty. Her right to appeal to the House of Lords was denied and she was sentenced to 9 months in Holloway Prison.
During this time she had many visitors including Winston Churchill who had Spiritualist sympathies. When he was re-elected to power in 1951 one of his first actions was to repeal the Witchcraft Act. Hence the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 became law and removed genuine Mediums from the provisions of both the Witchcraft Act 1735 and Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824, finally enabling Spiritualists to openly and legally practice their religion.
In November 1956 during a
séance police raided the premises grabbing Mrs Duncan violently and taking flash photographs. This type of activity can cause fatalities or immense physical damage. Five weeks later she was dead.
Helen Duncan is owed an immeasurable debt of gratitude for her faith, skill and sacrifice of the ultimate cost.