By Simon Smith - Humanist Wedding and Funeral Celebrant
Humanist Celebrants share their insights, expertise and personal stories about becoming a celebrant, the way they work and offer advice for people planning a wedding, funeral or naming.
HUMANIST CEREMONIES™ is a network of humanist celebrants trained and accredited by Humanists UK. We offer humanist naming, wedding or partnership, and funeral and memorial ceremonies for non-religious people. Each ceremony is unique, appropriate, and personal. Our skilled celebrants come from all walks of life and have great integrity, sensitivity and experience.
In this episode I am joined by three UK based Humanist celebrants, Felicity Harvest, Douglas Duckworth and Roger Payne, and together we offer some advice to anyone who has been asked to speak at the funeral of a friend, relative or colleague.
How to tackle difficult lives and difficult deaths, how to approach preparing and writing a eulogy that is personal, memorable and thoughtful.
Londonderry Air Beatrice Hamilton with Nightingales
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1
Pat says she has been training indirectly for celebrancy since she was in my twenties. She was an actor for twelve years. She left the theatre in 1987 to make space for her writing. Since then she's had seven poetry collections published. Her fiction also appears in a number of anthologies and fiction magazines. She has worked as a writer in residence in a prison and various hospitals and runs writing workshops from time to time in schools and community centres. You can see some of the work she does if you click on her blog.
Phone 07857 273695
With a background of marketing and communications that started in the hotel industry, Stephanie has over 15 years’ experience of creating, organising and hosting events, writing scripts and delivering speeches of all kinds. This has proved invaluable in designing and writing bespoke weddings, namings and funerals with all the couples and families she works with to create ceremonies just the way they want them.
Phil Collins - You can't hurry love
Visit www.silverbeeceremonies.co.uk to find out more about my ceremonies
Missa Luba by les troubadours du roi baudouin
Ian's Reading choice
Blessing for the Broken Hearted by Jan Richardson
Born in Zimbabwe and educated in Zambia and Scotland, I’ve been a radio producer for 30 years or so – working in most of Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and quite a lot of South East Asia. I used to live with my wife on a Dutch Barge in London but now our children are grown we’ve been able to move to a small north Oxfordshire village with a big garden and a medium sized dog.
Although I encountered a form of Humanism early on in my schooling (it was promoted by Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia), like many Humanist celebrants my major motivation came from attending too many disappointing ceremonies. I like the way secular celebrations can’t hide behind liturgy and therefore reveal the real people involved. And I am constantly fascinated and amazed at the inventiveness and creativity people put into their celebrations – even funerals. Especially funerals.
My communications skills, won over many years in broadcasting, help me to understand what people want to achieve in their ceremonies and to find ways to create events that accurately reflect those desires.
07973 221 479
01865 58 9663
Trevor's Choice for a reading:
The Life That I Have by Leo Marks
Trevor's choice for music
Back in Black by ACDC
Since being accredited as a Humanists UK celebrant in 2010 I have had the opportunity to work with all ages and personalities. My own experience in being part of a large extended family, spanning the generations, has equipped me well to do that.
My original career as a lawyer has left me with an eye for detail, alongside the ability to see the bigger picture. So you can be reassured that I will provide a safe guiding hand as you work to achieve your aims.
Alongside my commitment to family and community, for diversion I enjoy distance running (sometimes with Harvey the labrador), photography and cooking for others (helped down with some decent wine).
Although I live in Southwark and work mostly across central and south London and its bordering counties, I am happy to consider going further afield. I am part of a local network of celebrants operating in the same area. Between us we can ensure that a humanist celebrant is available whenever required.
Jane Blackman – a multi award-winning Humanist Wedding, Funeral and Naming Celebrant living in West Sussex; creating and leading personalised, non-religious and Humanist ceremonies across Sussex, along the South Coast, regularly taking ceremonies in Hampshire, Surrey and Kent .
Jane's Reading: Instructions by Arnold Compton
Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson
Felicity's Reading Choice
As I grow old I Shall March not Shuffle - Brian Bilston
Sailing By by Ronald Binge
I started my working life as a theatre designer. Then I went on to run several different organisations including a cinema and an environmental project. I worked in arts funding and development, finishing that part of my career as Regional Executive Director for the Arts Council here in the South East. Training as a humanist celebrant has meant that I can bring my belief in humanism together with my creativity. There are also a number of straightforward, useful skills I have learned over the years like listening, being organised, and making myself heard!
What I do when I’m not being a humanist celebrant
When I’m not doing ceremonies, I’m very involved in supporting other Humanist UK celebrants. I am the Ceremonies Network Support Coordinator for the South East region. This means that I support our local groups and help with recruitment and training of new celebrants. In addition, I’m a trainer, a mentor for new trainees, and one of the people who observes trainees for their final accreditation.
I also find time for walking, knitting, baking bread and gardening. Merlin the dog is a big part of our lives, though rarely comes to ceremonies! I am a trustee of a small arts charity locally, which works to bring artists into our community
Felicity's Contact details: