Meet the Symposium organisers
The Glastonbury Symposium was founded in 1991 by Roland Pargeter, who ran it for nine years, and to whom we pay tribute for founding the principles of the event. In 1999 the event was handed over to Sheila Martin, Andy Thomas and Karen Douglas. Karen moved on in the winter of 2004, and Andy and Sheila were then joined by Debbie Parkes. In 2008, Debbie was replaced by Di Brown.
Sheila has now stepped into a background role, leaving Andy and Di as the main organisers, with the added help of Helen Sewell, who will now be co-MC with Andy, and Jason Porthouse, both of whom have long been part of the Symposium.
There’s also a remarkable support team who make sure the Symposium runs smoothly in all possible ways – see below!
Andy is a leading researcher into unexplained mysteries and is the author of the acclaimed The Truth Agenda, which explores paranormal phenomena, global cover-ups and prophecies, and Conspiracies, widely praised for providing real insights into classic conspiracy theories. His many other titles include Vital Signs and An Introduction to Crop Circles, seen as definitive guides to the circle phenomenon, and he is also author of books about history and folklore, including Christmas: From Solstice to Santa. Andy is founder of Changing Times, which holds events on mysteries and truth issues in South East England, and he also runs Vital Signs Publishing.
Andy is one of Britain’s most prolific lecturers and speaks in many other countries too. He has made numerous radio and TV appearances. An annual speaker at the Glastonbury Symposium since 1994, Andy’s powerful presentations at the event are now renowned. He became co-MC in 1999, a role he continues to this day, and he is one of the core administrators for the Symposium.
Andy’s website can be found at: www.truthagenda.org
Di has been involved with the Symposium since 1995 where she helped on a casual basis with door and desk duty. She’s also been part of Andy Thomas’s more flamboyant talks in a theatrical sense, playing characters as diverse as the Queen, an acolyte and a fluffy bunny, to name a few!
In 2005 she moved from Brighton to the Glastonbury area and joined the front of house team. In 2008 she became one of the administrators for the Symposium and is the main contact for bookings.
Helen is a familiar face at the Symposium, having been involved since 2003. She has been our social media administrator for several years, as well as being Andy Thomas’s wife and our astrological consultant! Now Helen is taking on a more prominent role as one of our co-MCs.
In the wider world, Helen studied with the Centre for Psychological Astrology (CPA) under the renowned Liz Greene PhD, and is a Relate-trained relationship counsellor. She gives lectures, personal consultations and writes for astrological journals and websites. Helen is one of the regular tutors for MISPA, the internationally-recognised Mercury Internet School of Psychological Astrology. This experience has helped enormously in her astrological couple consultations, and she runs her own general counselling practice as well as giving astrology readings.
More on Helen can be found at her website: www.astrologicalinsights.co.uk
Jason is both technical advisor for the Symposium, and also the leader of our meditations on the Friday afternoon in the hall and on the Sunday afternoon in the Abbey grounds, where he manages to hold together a ring of sometimes up to 100 people come rain or shine!
Jason Porthouse works as a freelance documentary editor, working on programmes such as BBCs Panorama and Stacey Dooley Investigates… When not in an edit suite though, Jason follows a lifelong interest in spirituality and the metaphysical world. A qualified Spiritual Companion and alumni of Jan Day’s School of Being, he is particularly interested in exploring ideas around what being a man in today’s world really means, and how that feeds into relationships on all levels.
Sheila has been involved with the Symposium since 1993 when she moved to Glastonbury – “The only place I don’t feel eccentric”. She was one of the main organisers from 1999 until 2019 and has now decided to take a rest, advising in a background capacity.
Sheila had her first spiritual experience when she was eight – a sudden, inspirational insight that we are all one – but hadn’t a clue what to do with it. Her school RE teacher was constantly frustrated by her questioning of ‘received wisdom’ and religious orthodoxy – “You…. you’re just a little revolutionary, that’s what you are!”.
It wasn’t until Sheila was in her late twenties, discovering the works of Carl Jung and the personal growth movement, that she was able to find tools to articulate and develop her understanding of what life is really all about. Her happiest times are when she’s involved with transformation, be it in education, the theatre, or just with friends and colleagues for whom a penny drops and they see something differently and more joyously.
Helpers and crew
We wish also to express appreciation to our illustrious team of Glastonbury volunteers and hired professionals who help out at the weekend of the Symposium, especially Alan Bertrand (sound), Stuart Carr (lighting), Martin Potts and Tulki Jenkins (tech support), and Mell Turford (videos) – some of whom can be seen on the right shyly receiving accolades from the audience at the end of a Symposium! Other crucial people include our key ladder, scaffold and banner-hanging expert Paul Perry (see right), those who staff the doors, cafe, and our merchandise stall, and all who help with the crucial get-in and get-out. Thanks go also to Jemma Cooper for additional help with PR. Some of these good people have been with us for years, others come in and out each year, but the team always works really well. Without them, the Symposium wouldn’t be what it is and they all deserve huge credit.
Get in touch
If you would like to contact the Glastonbury Symposium, please email us using the contact form below or by emailing us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephoning us on the number in the panel at the foot of the page.