An office worker who was stalked for a year by a troubled spectre that spied on her and even dragged her down the stairs faced her fears by moonlighting as a ghosthunter and met the love of her life who she takes on paranormal dates.
Now an experienced investigator of everything from haunted castles to dungeons and tunnels, when Debbie McAll, 51, first realised a spirit had “attached” himself to her in late 2012 she even asked a church to “banish” him, to no avail.
Finding more understanding from a medium, who listened to her terrifying tales of being pushed and shoved and advised her to let go of the negative energy that was attracting it, the development coordinator, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, says pursuing her interest in the spirit world helped her “regain control” of her life.
It also led her to her soul mate, Emily Cowell, 38, a service manager, who she met at a séance in Fort Widley in 2020, saying: “She has the same passion for the paranormal as me and whenever we can, we work together.
“Our date nights are paranormal investigations instead of dinners – we prefer them!
“I met as Emily was a customer, of Ghost2Ghost, a paranormal investigations group I founded in 2018, and we love our paranormal date nights. They’re unconventional, but they’re our passion and we have as many as we can.”
She added: “Going on these investigations has completely changed my life and I’ve never been happier.”
Since Debbie created Ghost2Ghost, she has gone on more than 120 haunting excursions, taking a mixture of believers and sceptics.
And she says the most recent adventure in Fort Widley, near Portsmouth, Hampshire, on April 30, was the most terrifying yet.
Debbie and a group of 24 ghost hunters ventured into the coal tunnels beneath the reputedly haunted building, only to be frightened witless by a thunderous roar that reverberated all around them at 2am.
Despite her vast experience of investigating the paranormal, even Debbie was shocked to the core by the degree of “aggression” she says it conveyed.
She said: “I’ve never before in all my time of doing this experienced that level of aggression coming from the tunnels.”
She added: “It was so loud. It was giving a terrifying message.
“I think the spirits wanted us out of the tunnels. They wanted us to run out and we did!
“I’ve often heard the spirits shouting ‘Get out’ repeatedly, during investigations, but to hear such aggression was significant and something I’d never seen before. ”
Debbie first became aware of her psychic senses as a child, when she would often feel a presence.
But she began to have “visitations” during the night when she was in her twenties, that became concerning.
She said: “I could always feel presences in places. I could feel strangers, but I would dismiss them. I could also see spirits.”
She added: “It was scary at times, but other times it just wasn’t.
“I would just brush it off and then the spirits would move on.
“I used to get terrible visitations when I tried to sleep, which was more frustrating than it was scary.”
Debbie added: “I would see rows and rows of people as far as the eyes can see, but I could never see their faces and they were all white and cloudy.
“Nothing was ever defined, but you could tell they were people. And they were always jostling and demanding my attention.
“They needed my help, but I would always tell them to go away.”
Then, in November 2012, Debbie’s life changed forever after a spirit “attached” itself to her and refused to leave her alone for over a year.
She actually feared for her life, as the spirit – which was initially invisible but eventually turned into an ominous shadow – would taunt her by moving items around and eventually became aggressive and dragged her down the stairs.
Terrified, she turned to various churches for help, but says no one knew what to do.
She said: “This spirit just wouldn’t go away. The haunting got particularly bad and it was poltergeist haunting – a spirit that causes physical disturbances – so objects would be moved. Things would fly around and I even got attacked.
“I was pushed down the stairs and dragged by my ankles. That happened four or five times.
“And one time it was even witnessed by a friend, who ran out of the house.”
She added: “I was literally stalked for over a year.
“The spirit was a bit taller than I was – around 5ft 7in and quite wide. There was a weight to him, which is funny to say about a spirit.
“I was absolutely terrified, I had no idea how to deal with it. At the time, I couldn’t see him, but I could feel him.”
Desperate to escape being tormented by the spirit, she went to a medium and realised that she needed to “let go of any negative energy” that was keeping the spectre latched on to her.
Thankfully, by the end of 2013, the spirit left her in peace, but there was no turning back for Debbie, who became intensely passionate about the paranormal.
She said: “The spirit took over my life. I thought I was going completely mad. It got to a stage where it didn’t matter where I was, he would appear and perform.”
She added: “He’d start moving objects to scare me and get my attention which was witnessed by friends and even colleagues at work.
“They couldn’t believe what they were seeing, they were just shocked.
“It was the most difficult year of my life, but I don’t regret it because it has got me to where I am today.”
Debbie added: “I believe these things happened for a reason.”
Still working in a conventional nine to five office job, in 2015 Debbie decided to join a paranormal group, before going on to start Ghost2Ghost.
She said: “When I lead these investigations, we are going to look and hear the spirits’ stories.”
She added: “I spent years trying to process and understand what I went through with the attachment.
“By going on paranormal investigations and making contact with spirits, I feel like I am finally getting answers and making sense of things.”
But, sometimes, spirits can be quite sassy, according to Debbie, who has been repeatedly insulted by them during special “happenings,” in which ghosts appear in abandoned buildings.
She said: “I’ve had a spirit telling me to, ‘F**k off,’ before now. I’ve even been called the ‘c’ word.
“Sometimes there is a lot of humour in it, though. I’ll hear them laughing.
“I have seen shadows of women, a silhouette of a person, a child.”
Debbie added: “I have seen spirits do ‘peekaboos.’
“You never know what you will get until you go on an investigation. It all depends on the energy of the group.”
Blessed with boundless enthusiasm for the unknown, Debbie regularly attracts sceptics as well as believers to her investigations.
She said: “I’d invite anyone who is sceptical to come to one of our paranormal events and ask them to stay open minded.
“It’s a truly remarkable experience and we’ve had plenty of people who didn’t believe when they arrived leave thinking differently.”
Through the investigations, not only has Debbie found love, she has also met her best friends, personal trainer Tony Ferguson 37, and his financier wife Beverley, 47, who are both regulars on the hunts.
She said: “Emily and I met Bev and Tony a few years ago after they came to one of our events and we all became best friends.
“We do a lot of investigating with both of them and since we became friends we do little investigations just us four and it’s amazing.
“The energy with them on board increases dramatically. They’re such lovely people and they’ve really opened the door for us.”