This year the Paranormal Entertainment Awards racked up almost 60,000 votes from fans of the paranormal
, voting across 15 categories, but there were two special categories that were surprise awards.
These two special awards were not open to public votes and no shortlist of nominees was published before hand, meaning the winners didn't know they'd been selected as the winner until the moment the winners were announced to the world. These two awards were the Paranormal Unsung Hero and 2019 Special Contribution To The Paranormal.
Neil Packer has been named this year's Paranormal Unsung Hero. The award recognises the person in the community who's worked the hardest to further the paranormal field this year. It was open to nominations throughout October, we received a whole list of worthy names and each one of those names was considered, but Neil's name stood out not just in number of nominations, but also for his efforts.
The 2019 winner is Neil Packer, who runs the Haunted Antiques Paranormal Research Centre in Hinckley. Neil gives up a lot of his free time to host ghost hunting
events at the location, and show visitors around his collection for free. He also hosts regular live streams on Facebook and runs the HAPRC community.
Paul Stevenson from HauntedLIVE and Haunted Magazine said "if ever there's someone deserving of an award like this it is Neil."
"Since our very first meeting when he had opened up HAPRC, we got on like a house on fire, I could see his passion, his desire for what he wanted to do, but rather than let others do the work for him, he put all the hard graft in himself with a dedicated team. Let's not forget - this was the first of its kind, it's not a museum, it's not an attraction, it's a building full of antiques that may or may not be haunted, may or may not contain leftover energies from children and adults connected to them. Neil is the humblest man I know in the paranormal, laid back and really appreciative of anyone who visits or has the time of day to chat and talk."
Paul Stevenson, HauntedLIVE
The winner of the Special Contribution To The Paranormal this year is Ben Canham, whose passion for the paranormal has not only been a lifeline which has helped him overcome personal tragedy, but also enriched the lives of those he's met in the paranormal community.
Ben, from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, has Asperger's syndrome and says focusing on the hobby of studying the paranormal has helped with his condition.
BBC East Midlands
recently made Ben the star of a local news feature. They wrote, "a man whose parents both died when he was a teenager says he feels them around him when pursuing his passion for what he believes are 'haunted' objects."
Jayne Harris, the self-styled "ghostorian" who can currently be seen on Really's 'Help! My House Is Haunted', told us "Ben is such a special young man, who having only been part of the paranormal community for a short time, has made such an impact that I can think of no-one better to receive the award."
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"Ben is an inspirational young man who has overcome the worst possible tragedy and found the confidence to forge his own path and follow his heart. His passion for the paranormal is genuine and he is someone who I for one think has brought out the best in us all, simply by being part of the community. Everyone I speak to has a huge affection for him, we've taken him under our wing and I am personally thrilled to see him recognised with an award. Well done Ben!"
Jayne Harris, Help! My House Is Haunted
Paul Stevenson also knows Ben, he said, "it's a pleasure to call him and class him as a friend. There's not many people more passionate about the paranormal than Ben. Life is shit sometimes and Ben has had to cope with more than a fair share of it to be honest ranging from family heartbreak to depression and stress. I only hope the paranormal continues to give him the pleasure and the enjoyment it does. We should all respect and continue to enjoy the paranormal in our unique ways and if you ever get the chance to talk to Ben, to message him, then you'll realise why he is so very deserving of an award like this."
Neil and Ben were just two of many winners in this year's awards. The annual online event racked up almost 60,000 votes from fans of the paranormal, voting across the 15 categories, including everything from individual ghost hunter, through to movies, TV shows and podcasts.