Through our national network, Humanist Celebrants are to be found throughout the UK and, being part of an ever growing team, it’s a privilege to be able to conduct non-religious and personal ceremonies. My training was in-depth, and covered many different kinds of funerals, from burials to cremations and also the increasingly popular woodland or green funerals.
A ceremony is an occasion which may be formal, informal, solemn, spirited, conventional or otherwise. There is plenty of room for flexibility and, whatever the circumstances, the main thing is to provide what you ask for and that is what I’m here to do.
I was born and bought up in London within a traditional English family. Christened but not confirmed, my family was immersed in music, particularly through work, church choirs and school. Feeling atmospheres inside many beautiful churches in the City of London, even from an early age, I never felt comfortable reciting responses during a Service. The words bothered me and I felt uneasy saying things that I didn’t understand or that I just didn’t relate to.
As an adult, I was still unsure of where my convictions lay and so fell in with tradition when raising my children. We enjoyed the usual celebrations at Christmas and I was happy singing a good carol – but still wasn’t totally comfortable in a service and started to think much more about matters of belief and the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and equality. As well as this, thoughts on society’s influence over our personal codes of conduct, perceptions and consequent actions started to develop.
Decades later, I have arrived at a point where I simply believe in ‘Now’. What is important to me is being sensitive and caring to others, having respect for different views, and being a good listener. This last attribute is an essential aspect to a celebrant’s work. A tribute is usually a central part of any funeral – it’s informative, and paints a picture that family and friends will recognise and appreciate. It’s a challenge to convert a long and often emotional conversation into appropriate words and, at family meetings, there is often plenty of participation. Each person is encouraged to contribute their own thoughts and together we build the best possible ceremony. On other occasions, where families feel less able to create the framework, I support them with appropriate suggestions. Every situation is different and sometimes I might find myself working on something very unusual – that’s always interesting and rewarding too. I am very open to your ideas on ceremony content and this means that if you remember a hymn or something similar from other times that you might like to include, that’s just fine.
Please contact me either by email or phone. If I’m unable to answer do leave me a message and I’ll call you back.
“Good Morning Frances,
I just had to write to let you know how many messages I have received about Dad’s service yesterday. Also I want to thank you dearly for such a beautiful tribute to him, I think he would have been very happy and proud. So many people commented yesterday saying what a beautiful personal service it was. I feel between us we got it just right! I am so very grateful we met all be it under sad circumstances. Thank you so, so much and sending love.” S & family March 2017
Hello Frances, I just wanted to say a massive thank you for taking the service yesterday. Our client could not sing your praises enough and I very much appreciate all you did for the family and helping to make a very difficult day much easier to cope with. Many thanks, Sanantha Ewins, Funeral Arranger, The Co-operative Funeralcare, Addlestone. March 2017
“A big, big thank you for everything you did yesterday. We have had such amazing feedback about Mum’s funeral she would have been so pleased I’m sure, it really was a wonderful tribute for her.” LJT January 2017
“I have forwarded your email to my funeral arranger and let her know you took a lovely service, so I hope to work with you again in the future”. Christopher Fear Funeral Director Co-Op Hayes January 2017
“Thank you for the printed Order of Service for June. Thank you very much also, for all your help. Everyone said that you were brilliant and that the service was Lovely.” S & P December 2016
” I speak for all 3 of us when I say thank you for yesterday: I don’t think it could have been a better celebration of mum. We all are so grateful for the way you captured her, the tone you set and the warm way you conducted both events. We are really happy that it went so well and we feel we did right by mum! Thank you very much for the document: I know my family in Melbourne are really keen to see it. Thank you again, it was a pleasure meeting you and thank you again for making such a difficult time easier and helping us recognise and say farewell to Jane.” S October 2016
“… having you there made everything easier. You gave us just what we wanted Frances, thank you” SM September 2016
“Thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful service, we were so pleased to have found you” M & K August 2016
I would like to express my thanks to you for making Patsy’s farewell so natural and warm. I have had many compliments about the day from my family and friends saying it was such a beautiful service, very different and happy; a celebration of Patsy’s life.
The tribute you created was beautiful, interesting and very easy to listen to; it all just flowed beautifully.
Two people said it was ‘The best farewell I’ve ever been to’ and I make three.
I was too busy to talk to you during the party and a bit tipsy towards the end; I wish I had. You are fabulous darling (as Patsy would say).” S August 2016
The Sustainability Centre has its natural burial ground near Petersfield in the Meon Valley.
Funeral Advisor is published by the Natural Death Centre and is useful in helping to find the right Funeral Director for you.