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Celebrants are the people that create, write and conduct ceremonies. They work very closely with families and aim to make the process of putting a funeral together as inclusive and as easy as possible.


hey have a wealth of experience to draw upon. They can make suggestions about readings and music and advise on many

practical issues related to organising a funeral. Celebrants meet with key members of the family or close friends, usually at their home, and talk in detail about the person who has died and what is wanted from the funeral. The celebrant then co-ordinates

contributions and writes a bespoke ceremony making sure everyone is happy with this before the day itself. After the funeral, they give the next-of-kin a presentation copy of the script which many value as a precious keepsake.


WHAT MADE YOU BECOME A CELEBRANT? I first thought about becoming a humanist funeral celebrant after organising my mother’s funeral. She had been an atheist all her life and I wanted to have a ceremony that was true to her and her beliefs. I was so impressed with the time and care that the celebrant took and I knew then that one day I’d like to do that. Over the next fifteen years I attended a number of very disappointing funerals that seemed to have nothing to do with the people I had cared about. So when I finally had the space in my life to train to become a celebrant with the British Humanist Association, I leapt at it and I haven’t looked back!

BUT ISN’T YOUR JOB DEPRESSING? People often ask this but actually it’s not at all! I love hearing people’s stories and, believe it or not, visits to bereaved families are often joyful occasions. We talk about the person who has died, look at photographs and consider music and poetry to use during the funeral.

WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF BEING A CELEBRANT? I so appreciate it when I get feedback – letters from families telling me what a difference it has made to them to have a funeral that really reflected the way their loved one lived their life.

WHERE DO YOU WORK? I am based just outside Taunton in Somerset. I work as part of a team across the county and we fill in for each other as needed.

“I want people to know that they have a choice. Nobody needs to be shoe-horned into a religious funeral any more if it’s not right for them.” Patsy Wallace, humanist funeral celebrant.

QUALITY GUARANTEED When it comes to training and developing celebrants, the British Humanist Association has experience on its side; its members have been conducting funerals as far back as the 1890s! Celebrants are carefully recruited and trained

to the highest standards. They are quality assured and regularly observed, follow a strict code of conduct and undergo continued professional development. Our celebrants are kind, compassionate people who are committed to helping others at what can be one of the most difficult times in their lives. They are proud to provide a service that is so valued.

97% of feedback received awards our celebrants five out of five for their work.

PLANNING YOUR OWN FUNERAL People are becoming more open to thinking about their own death and communicating their general wishes about their funeral. Some people coming towards the end of their life also like to choose who will conduct their funeral and to talk with them about what it will include. Many of our celebrants have worked with people in this way. If you’d like to know more, do contact your local celebrant(s) to discuss your options.

TO FIND OUT MORE…. Celebrants are happy to be contacted without obligation, so do feel free to get in touch to ask any questions or simply to have a chat. A local funeral director can often

recommend someone they’ve worked with before or you can look for a celebrant yourself on our website: ( find-a-celebrant ) The British Humanist Association’s website

also features a useful short film explaining humanist funerals. This can be seen at www.

For further information, please see


or contact the British Humanist Association at: 39 Moreland St, London EC1V 8BB,

The celebrant will visit the family , often at their home.

tel. 020 7324 3060 Farewell Magazine


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