WITH Halloween approaching, a shopping centre is using its spooky reputation to raise cash for a local mental health charity.

The Castlegate Centre in Stockton is built on the site of an ancient castle and tales of hauntings and paranormal activity in the disused wing of the centre have been told for many years.

Staff have often reported strange sounds and feelings in parts of the centre.

Now, the unexplained energy many people have felt is being channelled into raising funds for Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind by Lone Vigils Paranormal Investigations, a Teesside-based paranormal investigation company.

Lone Vigils Paranormal Investigations is run by husband-and-wife team Chris and Clare Allison who started the company in 2018 after years of investigating paranormal activity across the UK as a hobby.

They suggested organising overnight watches at the Castlegate before it is demolished in 2022 – and offered to donate half of the proceeds to charity.

Read more: Video shows fans chanting 'hero' at A&E doctor who gave fellow Newcastle fan CPR

Marketing manager of Castlegate and Wellington Square, Chantal Taylor, jumped at the chance to help chosen charity Mind – which thanks to the generosity of Lone Vigils received £1,000.

Mrs Taylor said: ”Many investigators ask to come to the centre as it is a well-known location for paranormal activity but we chose Lone Vigils Investigations as they were the first to kindly offer a charitable donation.

“I think this is probably the most unusual way money has been raised for Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind – and we know every penny will secure much-needed help for their clients."

Lorna Routledge, of Mind said: “All the donations stay in the Teesside area to help local people, so we are very grateful for the support of the Castlegate Centre.

“Our services have been very much in demand because so many people are having a tough time, whether that’s because they’ve lost their job, through bereavement or the general impact of Covid on their mental health and wellbeing.

“Even though we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel there has been a huge rise in the need for services and unfortunately that will go on for some time.”

Read more: 'We want to turn it around' - Pandemic sees drop in people coming forward to adopt in Tees Valley

Mr Allison, of Lone Vigils Paranormal Investigations, explained: “Paranormal investigation was our hobby, and we found a lot of people, like us, were interested in the experience. So, we decided to turn it into a business, which has turned out to be a great success and we now deliver events across the country.

“Although it is often quiet, we have experienced some really good, genuine paranormal activity at the centre, which we measure through mediums and specialist equipment.

“We know for sure people were executed on the site of the castle and we think we may have connected with some accused of being witches.”

Mrs Routledge admits she is too much of a ‘scaredy cat’ to try it for herself: “Just going to have the photograph taken in one of the most haunted areas of the Castlegate at 11am on a sunny morning was freaky enough for me."

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Teesside Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054