FROM her earliest years Nicole Sheldon says she has been visited by people from the spirit world.
"When I was a toddler my father said he could hear me talking to someone in my bedroom. I was holding a rag doll and he could hear an old lady's voice talking to me through the doll. It was something that he could never explain, although I can't remember it.
"There were other incidents that everybody in the family still talk about," explained Nicole, 34.
"The earliest thing that I can remember is when I was sharing a bedroom with my sister and a toy vac moved across the floor by itself and came to rest at my bedside. My sister saw it as well and we both started screaming," she added.
Nicole, who now lives in Linthwaite but was brought up in Bradford, says her family lived in "an incredibly haunted house."
Understandably, the things she saw and the voices she heard used to frighten her as a child, but as she got older she conquered her fear by developing an interest in the paranormal.
Nicole, who now has four children of her own, says that as a teenager she learned to banish the voices but the loss of her mother in 1994 led to a decision to find out more about her "abilities".
"I got in touch with other mediums and learned how to protect myself. I found out that I had spirit guides and who they were. I was not embarrassed by what I was any more," she says.
Of course, not everyone believes that there are such things as mediums or that they can make contact with the deceased. Nicole's own father, she says, has always been sceptical. But she has no doubt at all that she has been given a gift and that she is not mentally deluded. "When I get a message for someone it is spot on. I'm not just giving out generic information, it's personal and people are often surprised by what I tell them and how I know. So it can't be a mental health problem," she explained.
Becoming a medium has offered new opportunities to Nicole, who used to work in factories making hi fi equipment, coats and crisps before becoming a mum. Her children range in age from 14 years to 18 months.
She sees herself as a young mum from an ordinary background who has extraordinary psychic abilities.
Her husband Trevor, who used to work in IT sales, is now her full time manager and runs their business, UK Haunted, an events company that stages ghost hunting evenings.
Nicole herself has become a show medium - her first major show this year is on April 24 at The Holiday Inn, Brighouse - and is the featured medium on BBC Radio Lancashire's Ghost Zone with Most Haunted's Jason Karl.
Her stage show, The Nicole Sheldon Experience, has a variety performance feel to it, with appearances by other mediums and special acts as well as Nicole herself.
Nicole is of the belief that when we die we enter a spirit world and that some spirits are able to communicate with the living through a medium.
"Not everyone is capable of this. I have never had a message from my mum but some mediums say that family members rarely come through to you."
In order to open a channel to the spirit world she meditates before a performance or reading.
"I go out and talk to the audience for a while and feel the spirit people come, and hear voices, and sometimes I can see and feel them.
"The spirit people often just want to say hello and let their loved ones know that they are still around them. Sometimes they have a purpose.
"I once had a boy come through who was a teenager who had died from a drug overdose.
"His death certificate had said that his death was misadventure but he wanted people to know that he had taken his own life because he couldn't get off the drugs. People in the family were arguing about it and he wanted them to stop," explained Nicole.
Because her own mother visited mediums Nicole says she understands that many people find comfort by seeking contact with the loved ones they have lost.
But what does she say to those who think that what she does is a trick or gimmick?
"I don't say anything. That's up to them, I don't try and push it on anybody. I didn't choose to be a medium, it chose me."
* Find out more about Nicole on www.nicolesheldon.com or www.ukhaunted.com