Hi there, my name is Gavin and I’m based in Peaslake, in the Surrey Hills (although I’m originally from Manchester). I performed my first funeral ceremony for my father back in 2007. He had died suddenly, and after a lifetime of never being interested in religion, I didn’t think it was right to let his cremation service be led by a vicar he never knew. I took the plunge and never looked back.
I work in the energy business, and it has allowed me to travel all over the world. My role means I’m forever presenting to clients and managing large meetings, so applying that to the role of a Humanist Celebrant has been quite a straightforward step. It helps that I’m naturally outgoing, and I have a sense of humour too (something I inherited from my much missed Dad).
It took me a while to work out I was a Humanist.
After my Dad died I did the usual soul searching, and started to read about religion and philosophy. Like a lot of people in the UK I only visited church for ‘hatchings, matchings and dispatchings’ and after a while I subsequently landed firmly in the ‘I don’t believe in any of this anymore’ space (however, I acknowledge that many people that have grown up in the UK might be used to listening to or saying the lords prayer, or singing ‘Jerusalem’ at a rugby match, and I’m OK with including them in any ceremonies I do).
Then in 2015 I was invited to speak at a friend’s Humanist funeral, and I quickly realised that I shared the exact feelings and beliefs as the Humanist Celebrant conducting the ceremony. I don’t believe in a supernatural god. I think that knowing right from wrong is innate in all of us. I think we have one life, and we should do our best to enjoy it while helping others.
I still work full time, mostly in central London, so I don’t conduct as many ceremonies as I’d like to. However that means that each one is special, and gets a lot of my time and focus. Helping people remember their lost ones with respect and dignity means a lot to me, and I enjoy crafting and refining the words for a ceremony, and working with family and friends to make it relevant and real. If you have any questions about how a Humanist (or any funeral in fact) works, please do get in touch. Increasingly people are taking more control of the funeral process, but if I can help remove any of the ‘mystery’ I’d love to help.
Although I live in Surrey, I am happy to travel to the surrounding counties too.
I work closely with another Humanist Celebrant, Frances Baskerville, who is based in Farnham. She is a wonderful Celebrant and you may wish to look at her profile too (http://humanist.org.uk/francesbaskerville).
Some comments from recent ceremonies I’ve conducted…….
“You coordinated and eased us into a fitting tribute for Dad. Everybody said it was the best funeral they had been to, all very personal, and we all want a humanist service when it’s our turn.” SD
“Just a note to tell you how much we all enjoyed the service you conducted for us at G’s funeral. It was a calm, peaceful way to say goodbye, and leaves me with lasting happy memories” PH
“We were so appreciative of the time you put in and the great sensitivity you showed at what was quite a difficult time….” MS