It’s had him bawling his eyes out and even throwing up. For medium Kelvin Cruickshank, working on TV show Sensing Murder has been both traumatising and rewarding, and being a part of it has been a huge privilege.
But when it returns to our screens next year, he’ll only feature in one episode of the hit series. Kelvin’s leaving the show that made him a household name because he feels the time has come to move on.
“Sensing Murder means a lot to me and always will,” says the single dad-of-two. “It changed my life and gave me the opportunity to try to help families who had lost loved ones under terrible circumstances. That’s been a real honour.
“But when I went to work on the new series, it was really different and it didn’t feel like I was meant to be there. I feel I should be going on to other things. When I have those kinds of feelings, I listen to them.”
Kelvin was one of several mediums chosen to work on the show, which screened from 2006 to 2010, until the company making it went into receivership. Another company acquired the rights to make the new series.
Cases he looked into over the years have included the unsolved killings of six-year-old Alicia O’Reilly, who was raped and murdered in her bed, young mum Angela Blackmore, who was stabbed in her home, and the disappearance of toddler Amber-Lee Cruickshank (no relation), who vanished from a property near Lake Wakatipu.
Kelvin says spirits shows him what has happened to the victim and often he will see, hear or feel what they went through to varying extents, which can be very distressing.
“One of the worst ones was Alicia O’Reilly – when I communicated with her in spirit, I saw what she went through and I threw up,” says Kelvin. “I cried for weeks after working on that episode. She was such a lovely little kid.”
The programmes were made with the cooperation of the families and Kelvin was able to meet some of them after filming the episodes.
“The whole idea was to bring some closure to them and I was grateful that we were able to give some of them a sense of peace.”
But it was frustrating when he and the other mediums provided details about the killers to the police, only for them to lead nowhere.
“In some cases, we gave some spot-on details, such as physical descriptions, jobs and even names, but that information wasn’t always acted on. It needed to be a joint effort between us, the police, the legal system and the public, like parts of a puzzle coming together.”
Leaving Sensing Murder doesn’t mean the end of his TV career, in fact, he is going to appear in a US documentary series called Haunted Hollywood. He flew to Los Angeles earlier this year to film the programme, which involved going to a house that had been the scene of a murder.
“I can’t go into detail at this stage about what happened, but it blew me away,” Kelvin says. “As well as being filmed by normal cameras, they had special cameras that could pick up spiritual energy, so they basically detect ghosts. They recorded the energy of spirits I could see – it was amazing.
“We worked closely with the police, including a detective who has solved more than 500 cold cases. I hope it is screened here.”
Kelvin is also busy looking after his daughter Jade (6) – his 22-year-old son Javan has left home – and travelling around New Zealand giving readings through his Soul Food shows. A tour to the UK is on the cards for next year.
“After Sensing Murder started screening there, my email went bananas with people wanting me to go over.”
Last month, he has put a lot of energy and effort into raising money for Movember. He’s supported the fundraising campaign for several years now and last year MoFoBroz, his team of fellow moustache-growers, raised more than $14,000, making them the most successful Movember team in the country.
They are hoping to repeat that this year, and held a fishing competition and doing challenges, as well as growing facial hair.
“I hate growing a moustache – it feels terrible and it looks worse,” Kelvin says. “It’s like having a dead cat under your nose. But men’s health is a cause I think is very important, so I’m doing it.”
He is promoting men’s mental health, as well as prostate, testicular and other cancers, and says it is crucial for men to talk about their health problems.
“I know people who’ve died young – including one guy who was just 34 – because they didn’t do anything about their problems. And I’ve done readings with people in spirit who say, ‘I wish I had gone to the doctor sooner, I could still be there.’
“We need to stop trying to be tough and start talking about it.”