Panther-like beast is spotted in Ripley area

a Chinese lantern
a Chinese lantern

THE LID has been lifted on Ripley and Heanor’s own X-Files after an investigation by the News.

A Freedom of Information Request put in to Derbyshire police has unearthed a number of strange 999 calls in the area over the last five years.

Big cat boost: Could Belper have its very own beast of Bodmin?

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And the findings show that the villages around Ripley and Heanor are veritable big cat hotspots.

In June, 2006, a caller from South Wingfield rang police to say they had seen a large black panther-like creature that walked across the road and through a hedge into a field near to their house.

In May, 2010, a frightened motorist dialled 999 saying they had seen a large black panther like creature that trotted in front of their car before disappearing in Nether Heage.

And in May of this year, an aghast caller from Crich stated that they and their neighbour had seen a large panther or lynx in their garden and a nearby field.

Danny Bamping, founder of the Big Cat Society, which looks into the existence of such creatures in the British Isles, said Derbyshire and Amber Valley have been a definite hotspot for sightings.

He said: “I have investigated quite a few in Derbyshire over the years. It is a bit of a hotspot.

“It is because there is a lot of cover there, a lot of forests and rivers – a lot of areas for these animals to thrive in really.”

Mr Bamping said there could be more than 16 species of big cat living in Britain.

He said bodies of pumas, lynxes and jungle cats have all been found in the country.

The most convincing evidence Mr Bamping said he had seen was the body of a large lynx found in Norfolk in 1991.

His society now has 3,000 members who regularly visit areas to conduct more research, if they get enough evidence.

“We have had plenty of solid evidence to prove their existence,” said Mr Bamping, “But not a lot of people know about that.”

And lifting the lid on Ripley and Heanor’s X-Files also exposed another strange happening witnessed by a local resident.

Information from the police force show that one panicked caller rang 999 in 2008 to say they had just seen three UFOs flying over their garden towards Ripley’s police headquarters based in Butterley.

Other calls to police over the last ten years were dismissed as hoaxes.

But expert Heather Dixon, of the Tyneside-based British UFO Research Association, believes 98 per cent of flying saucer sightings can be explained.

“The biggest culprit are candle lit sky lanterns,” she said. “They account for about 60 per cent of all sightings.

“They can often look very strange and can move quickly and silently in high wind speeds.”

Other common explanations, Mrs Dixon said, are satellites orbiting the Earth and the International Space Station, which can glow extremely bright in low orbits.

But one Langley Mill woman is convinced of the existence of UFOs.

Joanne Somerscales, who has founded the world’s first hotline for people who believe they have been abducted by aliens, is attracting attention from callers all round the world.

“A lot of people are very distressed and worried, and have nowhere to turn to.

“Anomalous Mind Management Abductee Contactee Helpline (AMMACH) provides a first port of call for them.

“Our whole point is to give people a voice in an unbiased way.”

Joanne said the experiences felt by abductees differed from one person to another. Several ‘lose time’ and from her organisation’s research, the people abducted, she claims, often possess ‘exceptional’ abilities or have a rare blood type.

She says she does not have all the answers, but there is firm proof out there to suggest aliens exist.

She said: “I’m not saying everyone that comes through our door is not delusional – but I am yet to meet one yet. Why would you put yourself through it? These people are courageous to come forward and deserve our accolades, not ridicule.”

Although not reported to police, there was a possible UFO sighing above Langley Mill itself in September 2010.

A number of people saw an object in the sky flashing red, white and blue, moving fast and ‘skipping’ across the sky, before disappearing.

Turn to Looking Back on P10.

l Have you witnessed anything out of the ordinary around Ripley and Heanor? If so then get in touch by emailing