So it's not quite so one-sided and so that you can be sure you've chosen the right celebrant for you, I've included a little bit of information about myself here, so you can get to know me and my style before we meet and before you engage me to create a Grand Goodbye for your loved one..
I'm very relaxed and friendly, I'm a great listener, a natural storyteller, a good writer and a competent and confident public speaker and event organiser - so you have peace of mind that you're in safe hands in what will no doubt be a very stressful and emotional time for you.
Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, I'm a wedding celebrant, a funeral celebrant, a music addict, a festival goer, a film lover, a dog person, a cat sofa. I am a wife, a mum, a family person. I'm a big softie when it comes to animals and to be honest, when I'm not working, I'm much more likely to be out enjoying a long walk with my dog than pushing a hoover around or unloading the dishwasher. I'm a creator of stories, a holiday enthusiast, a RightMove obsessor, a hard worker, a story lover, a disinterested cook, a would-be vegan (not quite enough will power), a chocolate lover, a romantic, a party die-hard, and a lover of friendship and red wine!
In no particular order, I've lived in Harrogate, London and Surrey. I've travelled enough of the world to open my eyes and my mind, but not enough to be totally satisfied. I'm still curious. I'm a believer in grabbing opportunities and experiences, being kind and celebrating the good things in life while I have the chance because no-one truly never know what life will throw our way next. Oh and I'm a humanist!
Life has been good to me, but it certainly hasn't been without its challenges, hardships and bumps. I have a personal understanding of how grief, loss and worry feels and I understand that those who have lost a love one can experience all the emotions of grief, shock and acceptance at varying levels and stages. Losing someone you love is never easy, no matter how prepared you believe you are.
How I Got to Be A Funeral Celebrant
The first humanist funeral I went to was that of a friend in a green burial site. It was the most surprising, emotional, uplifting and memorable end of life ceremony I have ever attended. I laughed and I cried. I remembered him exactly as he was, and heard memories of him that I hadn't known. I left the ceremony feeling glad I'd known him. And it opened my eyes to the world of humanist, non-civil ceremonies.
Some eight years later, I decided to utilise all the skills and experience I'd accumulated in my career in professional writing, corporate event management, and community, charity and commercial video production and photography, I trained to be a wedding celebrant with Humanists UK.
I agreed with their philosophy on life, I supported all their causes for human rights and equality and I thought that their training was the best available. I loved this work and spent a lot of time and energy writing and delivering ceremonies, drawing on and expanding my experience, growing my presence in my local area and spreading the word about humanist ceremonies in general. I also became an active member of our regional humanist celebrant network and a mentor of wedding ceremony trainees for Humanists UK.
Over the next couple of years, a few of my couples and friends suffered bereavements and had asked if I did funerals too. I didn't - so with a little sadness that I couldn't help, I referred people back to the local network. I'd always wanted to offer both wedding and funeral ceremonies but the training with Humanists UK is rightly separate for both ceremonies as they are very different crafts.
Time and time again, I recognised the impact of the meaningful, thought-provoking, uplifting, story-based wedding ceremonies I delivered, and wanted to be able to offer people who are grieving the loss of a loved one the same level of care and attention that I give my weddings. As time went on, I realised that I wanted to and needed to be able to offer an end of life service sooner rather than later. And so I embarked on the gold standard training with Humanists UK.
In love and death, it's an honour and a complete privilege to be let into someone's life for a small window of time and ask questions that often lay feelings bare, particularly when emotions are raw and people are feeling vulnerable after a death. You have to be totally comfortable with your celebrant to do that, to laugh about the good memories and cry about the touching ones, as well as recount facts; and I've been told I'm very easy to chat to in those circumstances.
During our meeting - which can be at my place, your place or any other place of your choice, I will chat to you about the life journey of the person who's died, and find out about their values, achievements, feelings and innermost thoughts about life. Using copious notes, I weave everything into a bespoke script for you to approve. On the day of the funeral, celebration of life ceremony or memorial service, I conduct a ceremony that truly reflects and documents your loved one's story in a way they would have liked, to mark a day that will be remembered forever.
North and West Yorkshire
I'm based in Harrogate and work in Leeds and York areas as well as throughout the Yorkshire Dales, Wetherby, Ripon, Masham, Bolton Abbey, Skipton, Otley, Ilkley, Thirsk, Northallerton and beyond.
I'm a recommended celebrant at venues across Yorkshire, but am just as happy conducting a funeral, memorial or celebration of life ceremony in a crematorium chapel, in a cemetery, woodland burial site, in a village hall, hotel, pub, garden or anywhere else you wish to hold a grand goodbye.
Reflecting on Covid restrictions
I was asked by project leaders at Manchester Met and Chester Universities recently to take part in a national, multi faith look at how Covid restrictions have affected families coping with grief and death. You can listen to the podcast here.
A Grand Goodbye
I believe that everyone deserves a good send off. It's the last thing we can do for our loved ones. I chose the name 'Grand Goodbyes' to reflect my Yorkshire roots and home and the fact that I put every ounce of effort into giving people's loved ones a goodbye ceremony of which they would have been proud.
What humanism means to me
I trained to be a funeral celebrant with Humanists UK because of its gold standard training, its ethical and equality values, its network of colleagues and its provision of regular opportunities for continued professional development.
Humanism is a way of thinking that is fair and just. It supports curiosity, diversity in people, it is tolerant of all others’ beliefs, and celebrates the one life we know we have. Of course, there is a whole load of things to learn if you delve deeper, so if you are interested, please click here: https://humanism.org.uk