I'm certain my daughter came back from beyond the grave to protect us

‘I’m certain my daughter came back from beyond the grave to protect our family’: City Superwoman who suffers no fools NICOLA HORLICK tells the most astonishing story of her life

A couple of months after the death of my eldest daughter Georgie aged 12, a psychic promised that the child I had lost would visit me. I remember my perplexity. 

What did she mean? Would Georgie appear as an apparition, a fleeting glimpse, as if in a dream?

It was only a couple of weeks before I found out. Georgie came back to me, not as a ghost, but as a palpable presence, as real and tangible as the child I had lost.

My bedroom door flew open at 2am and there she was, beaming. A vision of health in white satin trousers and cotton shirt. Her strawberry blonde hair had grown below her shoulders; the puffiness caused by the steroid drugs prescribed to treat her illness had gone.

A couple of months after the death of my eldest daughter Georgie aged 12, a psychic promised that the child I had lost would visit me. I remember my perplexity. What did she mean?

Our eyes met and she lowered herself gently onto my bed and embraced me, hugging me tight. We lay like that for what seemed like 20 minutes and I could feel the warmth of her body.

I was ecstatic.

Eventually she got up, smiled down at me again, and walked out of the room, closing the door. The comfort I felt sustained me during those early months of raw grief.

Before Georgie, the firstborn of my six children, died in 1998, I did not believe in the afterlife, although I was christened and confirmed in the Church of England and attended regularly as a child.

But strange signs that she was still around us began soon after we lost her.

There were thuds as photos and paintings mysteriously fell from the walls of our London home. More extraordinary still was the glass chess board that seemed to float in the air, unsupported, before crashing to the ground as my daughters Alice and Serena quietly played the game together.

Then a huge glass vase of flowers took flight and shattered on the ground, watched incredulously by Tim, my then husband, as he sat on a sofa reading.

And as Georgie continued to make her presence felt in many different uncanny ways — sending messages to my youngest daughter Antonia, speaking to me through the medium who promised I’d see her; even, I believe, intervening on one occasion to save our lives when a deer jumped out of a hedge and hit our car travelling at 60 mph — I felt not alarmed but comforted.

You may find my belief all the more compelling because I am known as a practical, resourceful, and above all, logical woman.

Numbers have always been my metier. I am far from being a woo-woo person. With a law degree from Oxford University, I went on to have six children while running a multi-million pound investment company in the City during the 1990s. I acquired the soubriquet Superwoman — not that I ever endorsed it.

When you’re fortunate enough to have an income of a £1 million a year, you can afford a nanny, cleaners and a housekeeper. I think the real superwomen are the working mums who manage without such help.

Numbers have always been my metier. I am far from being a woo-woo person. With a law degree from Oxford University, I went on to have six children while running a multi-million pound investment company in the City during the 1990s. I acquired the soubriquet Superwoman — not that I ever endorsed it

Our lives had seemed richly blessed until our beloved daughter’s long illness.

Georgie, who would be 35 now, was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of two. It took me more than six months to convince doctors that there was something wrong with her.

‘She just has a virus. It’ll be OK,’ they would tell me. But my mother’s instincts told me something was terribly wrong and I continued to make a fuss until eventually one doctor sent Georgie off for a blood test.

She was admitted to hospital that evening and began chemotherapy the next day in September 1989. Her illness was a long and traumatic one.

Although she was well from the age of three to eight, she relapsed inexplicably in April 1995 and suffered almost four years of trauma. During this time she nearly died from necrotising fasciitis (more commonly known as the flesh-eating disease).

Then the leukaemia came back and she endured a bone marrow transplant in May 1998 before dying at Great Ormond Street Hospital on November 27 of the same year.

Her death, of course, was a profound trauma to us all. Georgie’s siblings Alice, now 33, Serena, 31, Rupert, 28 and Antonia, 25 (my sixth child, Benjie, now 22, was born within a year of Georgie’s death) were all affected differently.

But perhaps it was Antonia — just two-and-a-half when Georgie died — who suffered most grievously because hers was, in a sense, a double loss.

For the formative early years of Antonia’s life, I was keeping a virtually constant vigil at Georgie’s hospital bedside. So my youngest daughter was denied the attention of her mum, then she lost a sister.

Perhaps, then, it’s no coincidence that Georgie has channelled her presence so insistently through Antonia. I believe fervently that she returned in spirit form to take care of her little sister.

As well as the falling photographs and paintings, I started to find photos of Georgie that were normally displayed on my dressing table, on the floor on the other side of the room.

I asked the other children if they had been moving things around but they insisted they hadn’t.

After the funeral, we went to South Africa for three weeks. It was Christmas and the children were distraught and we hoped that going to a different place, where it would be sunny and warm, would help them.

I thought the strange events that had taken place at our home in London would be left behind, but I was wrong.

We stayed in a rented property in Cape Town with a beautiful garden and swimming pool. When we arrived, I took one of the suitcases into a bedroom that Alice, then ten, and Serena, eight, were sharing and started to unpack.

I opened a wardrobe door and it crashed to the floor, giving me a fright. It was mirrored and very heavy but luckily nothing broke. I picked the door up and put it to one side and continued to unpack. Minutes later, I heard another crash and the wardrobe door had moved from the wall it was propped against to the other wall. There was no one else in the room — yet it was impossible for this to have happened without intervention. I was utterly bemused.

But bit by bit, it dawned on me that Georgie had followed us to South Africa. There were other bizarre goings on that convinced me that she was around.

One of the children was walking along the corridor to the bedrooms and a chunk of the wall inexplicably fell off. Then there were the incidents with the glass chess board and vase. And soon, Georgie began to communicate with Antonia. I was hanging washing on a line outside when I saw Antonia take a running leap into the swimming pool, fully clothed and without any buoyancy aids.

Panicking, I leapt into the pool and dragged her out. When I asked why she had done something so dangerous, she said she had seen Georgie in the pool and wanted to swim with her.

A couple of days later, it was my birthday. My husband and I left the children with the nanny and went out for a romantic candlelit dinner. Afterwards, we returned to the house and all was quiet. We made love and he fell asleep, but I lay awake for what seemed like hours. I got up and looked out across the ocean.

There was a full moon sitting low in the sky and a huge shaft of light reflected on the water coming almost to the window. It was so beautiful. And then, a huge firework display began, surrounding the moon.

I gasped at the extravagance of the fireworks — the most incredible that I had ever seen, or will ever see. I wondered how the display had been orchestrated given that the fireworks were over the ocean. I pinched myself to see if I was asleep and dreaming but I was definitely awake.

When I got back to London, I spoke to one of the consultants at Great Ormond Street Hospital about our experiences and she said she often heard stories from parents about supernatural events that had occurred after the death of their child.

There was another dramatic event a few days later. We’d gone to our house in Hampshire for the weekend and I was driving home from a shopping trip with Antonia. The road, north of Southampton, is a fast one and as I rounded a bend at 60 mph, a deer leapt from a hedgerow.

I slammed my foot on the brake, but I knew that there was nothing I could do to avoid the animal, so I closed my eyes and braced myself for the impact.

There was a huge bang and I winced as I hit the deer. My 4×4 was momentarily airborne, then it jolted down and I felt the bump as I ran over the carcass before we finally ground to a halt.

I was shaking with shock and turned to check Antonia, who was fast asleep in her car seat. I tentatively moved the car forward and looked in the rear-view mirror, but there was no sign at all of the dead deer.

I moved forward, looked again — but there was nothing there. Where was it? It would have been impossible for it to have survived the collision.

A shiver went down my spine and I drove home extremely slowly. When I arrived, I checked again for damage. Nothing. No dent, no blood. I stood staring at the car in disbelief.

A few days later, a friend called and said she had been told in a dream to take me to a famous psychic, once a favourite of Princess Diana.

Normally, I would not have agreed to go, but the inexplicable events that had preceded our conversation had made me feel rather curious.

So my friend and I drove to the psychic’s home in Hertfordshire. She invited me into her kitchen and handed me a glass of water and a box of tissues as we sat down at the table.

Warning me that first times were often a disappointment, she asked if I would be happy for her to record our session on tape and I agreed.

Taking both my hands, she closed her eyes and fell into a trance-like state. ‘I have your daughter here with me,’ she said, and an urge to giggle that had almost overcome me instantly evaporated.

Then she opened her eyes wide and stared at me in surprise: ‘Goodness! Your daughter is already an angel. Most unusual for someone who has passed to the other side so recently. You should be very proud.’ After that, a huge cascade of words tumbled out of her so rapidly that it was hard for me to process them all.

She told me that my mother had suffered a miscarriage between having me and my brother, which I had never known.

Astoundingly, she told me, although there were no visible signs of it, that I was pregnant; that it would be a boy and that I was going to have a dodgy scan, but it would all be OK and I was not to worry.

She said that my husband would want to call the baby George, but I should resist as he needed to have his own identity. All that is indeed what happened, and we went on to have a baby boy we named Benjie.

Then she said she could see a deer running across a road in Hampshire and that it was a good thing that Georgie had been on hand to protect me that day — otherwise Antonia and I could have both died.

At the end of this stream of messages, she suddenly stopped, sighed and said she was exhausted. I realised tears were streaming down my face and I reached for a tissue. The psychic comforted me. ‘Don’t cry, my dear. Have you seen Georgie yet?’ I shook my head. ‘You will, my dear, you will see her very soon.’

I didn’t really know what she meant, but a couple of weeks later I understood when Georgie appeared to me that night in the early hours.

A couple of days after my visit to the psychic, my brother came to visit. I told him all about it and asked if he wanted to listen to the tape. He was extremely sceptical. 

‘Let’s face it,’ he said, ‘Your life isn’t exactly a secret and she probably read all about you in the newspapers.’

Even so, I played him the tape. Afterwards, I told him that my mother had confirmed that she had had a miscarriage. And the psychic couldn’t possibly have known about the deer because I’d only told my husband about it.

‘And are you pregnant?’ my brother asked. I nodded my head and we looked at each other in absolute disbelief.

Nicola Horlick is chair of Anthony Nolan, the charity which saves the lives of people with blood cancer. It is looking for people to support its lifesaving mission by joining the stem cell register as a donor and funding their vital work. Find out how you can get involved at anthonynolan.org

Did your lost child visit you after death? Contact us at [email protected]

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