KAREN Carruthers is convinced of the existence of UFOs and extra-terrestrial life. And she is not alone.
In May last year, she helped establish the Byron UFO Research Group, which attracts up to 50 people to its monthly meetings.
The gatherings feature guest speakers – many of whom claim to have had an alien contact – and allow people a “safe space” to discuss UFO and alien encounters.
“If you’ve never told anyone about your experience, it’s a lot to carry around. There is a fear of ridicule,” said Ms Carruthers, who is a former family therapist.
People at the meeting come from all walks of life, she said. Many have had a lifelong interest in UFOs or had “seen something” and had no outlet for it.
“We had a woman at our last meeting who had experienced a sighting 36 years ago.”
Mrs Carruthers started seeing UFOs in the 1990s and recollects being taken on a spacecraft in 2003.
She says her daughter, who lives in Sunrise, saw a UFO just last Sunday morning.
“There was no sound, it was a round object and it hovered over the house and didn’t move. She watched it for half an hour.”
Mrs Carruthers said there was a lot of fear surrounding alien life and UFOs, but the more you knew, the less scary it became.
She said aliens were a force for good: “To want to help us to help the planet and each other.”
As part of her work with the group, Ms Carruthers is compiling a database of UFO sightings from Byron and surrounding areas. She plans to conduct interviews, collating the information to create an historical record and to help demystify the subject.
“The more it gets out into the open, the more accepted it becomes,” she said.
“We want to give it some credibility and respectability.”
She said interest in UFOs was growing worldwide and becoming more accepted and mainstream.