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Obituary: Don Copland

DON COPLAND was one of the most important figures to emerge in the field of spiritual healing in the last 20 years.

Having been brought up a Christian, over the years he expanded his interest into comparative religion and early Christian history, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes. He investigated healing through the ages and this led him to his first healing encounter in 1968, when he healed his second wife, Audrey, of a chronic neck condition.

With the preamble "Well, it can't do any harm!", he held his hands over his wife's neck and in one session cured her of a year-old problem that had failed to respond to medical treatment. This success led him to train as a healer with the National Federation of Spiritual Healers; and the words "It can't do any harm!" became a catchphrase.

Spiritual healing is the channelling of healing energies from a "divine source" through the healer to the patient, with the intention of boosting the body's own recuperative abilities to combat a wide range of physical and psychological conditions. A variety of research has been undertaken to demonstrate the scientific validity of healing, including studies on animals, plants and micro- organisms, as well as humans. Results have indicated the existence of a real healing effect.

The National Federation of Spiritual Healers (NFSH) was founded in 1955 as the first non-denominational professional body for spiritual healing. Copland became a Healer Member of the NFSH in 1977 and in 1982, after two years as Vice-President, was elected President. He held this position for seven years, only relinquishing it to take on the full-time job of Administrator for seven years, after retiring from his job as a company director. His final role in the NSFH was as Media Consultant and Spokesperson.

Copland's experience in business, running his own engineering company, Winvic Engineering, with two partners for more than 20 years, meant that he brought practical administrative skills to the NFSH as well as a deep spiritual commitment. These combined qualities enabled him, with other colleagues, to transform the NFSH from a sleepy cash-strapped "club" into the professional organisation that it is today - the largest spiritual healing charity in the world. He worked tirelessly to bring spiritual healing into mainstream acceptance, gaining the British Medical Association's approval of the NFSH Code of Conduct and helping to form the Confederation of Healing Organisations (CHO).

He frequently appeared on television and radio to explain the value of spiritual healing and was the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles citing his healing successes. In attempts to produce measured evidence of the healing process, Copland's healing was monitored by Biofeedback Mind Mirrors (which measured brainwave changes in both Copland and his patient) and infra-red cameras (which showed white light building up in his hands and passing into his patient), but the real proof of its efficacy was in his results.

He was a founder member of the NFSH Healer Training programme and was a gifted tutor, well-known for his relaxed yet informed approach and notorious for his jokes. His luck was also legendary: no healing fund-raiser or tombola was immune to his winning streak; he was constantly donating prizes back.

He wrote a definitive book on spiritual healing, So You Want to Be a Healer? (1981), while his "Spiritual Reflections" column in the NFSH magazine Healing Review (now Healing Today) was one of its most popular features. He edited the magazine for many years and loved to write. He published several books of spiritual verse including Verses and Prayers for Children (1977). The Healer's Prayer which he wrote is used by healers throughout the country.

Don Copland was born in Lincoln in 1930. He was called up for National Service when he was 18 and spent a large proportion of it in Malaya during the bandit war. In his bureau he kept a scrunched-up bullet which had flown in through the window of a troop train, hitting the seat behind his head. His love of Oriental food dated from this period and led to a general interest in cooking.

He was also a keen gardener and his healing hands meant that everything he grew was bigger and better; he used to say that he channelled healing through the water in the hosepipe. He was very practical and as well as building sets for years for Frank Muir's amateur dramatic company, the Thorpe Players, he also as a young man built a home from scratch on the banks of the River Thames near Chertsey, in Surrey. He was a talented sportsman, playing hockey and tennis, and also loved driving, especially in car rallies.

He had an affinity with animals and birds and found that they responded particularly well to healing. Several of his most recent "patients" were dogs, who sat as still and contented as could be while Copland's hands were laid over them.

Ruth Copland

Donald Frank Copland, spiritual healer and businessman: born Lincoln 25 November 1930; Vice-President, National Federation of Spiritual Healers 1980-82, President 1982-89, Administrator 1989-96; married 1954 Anne Taylor (one son; marriage dissolved 1964), 1964 Audrey Murr (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1986); died Camberley, Surrey 24 April 1998.