Widening the Net
One of the most interesting aspects of the BHA network is the diversity of background of our celebrants. The current intake is no exception:
Julie Wright (Wells) describes herself as a Humanist in traditional Christian country! Julie is a wedding celebrant and full-time teacher so is taking the moonlighting job slowly and hopefully surely!
Douglas Duckworth: I have been at various times a gravedigger, customs officer, accountant, senior Stock Exchange official and management consultant. In 2002 my partner and I left the UK in a small yacht and ended up buying a house and olive grove in Southern Italy. Now in my mid fifties, I am teaching English in Borneo and plan to return to Europe in 2013. I have been interested in death and dying for twenty-odd years and in 1993 wrote and produced a play on the subject which was performed to London medical students.
Patsy Wallace (Somerset): I live in rural Somerset with my husband Chris. I’m a keen walker, love being by the sea, enjoy music and festivals and am writing a family history for my American niece and nephew. I also make and sell jewellery. For the last 16 years I’ve run my own consultancy business. Before that I worked in local government and was very active in NALGO, particularly around women’s issues. I decided to train as a humanist celebrant after organising my mother’s funeral. So far (after 10 funerals) I find it very fulfilling, and only wish I’d started sooner.
Christine Berrisford (Leeds): I live with my partner, my dog and, when she is home from University, my 19 year old daughter. Since studying Theatre at Lancaster, I have spent most of my working life in education, specialising in work with young people who are disaffected with learning, or who have been unable to access an education. I still work full time at an FE college in Leeds. I became a member of the BHA when the faith schools issue began to get a lot of media coverage, but only last year felt able to commit to the wedding training. The substantial planning period means I can fit this in with my college work. This will have to continue for now, my aim is to slowly do less and concentrate more on my ceremonies work. I continue to campaign with the BHA to get Humanist Ceremonies legally recognised.
Kenneth Greenway (London): I first described myself as an Atheist when I was 8 – I’m now 35 – but didn’t discover Humanism until 2007 when a friend of mine had a Humanist wedding. I joined the BHA and Essex Humanists, and later applied to become a celebrant. I still work full-time, managing Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, a 33 acre nature reserve in east London. My role as a celebrant has to be fitted around my job and family life: I have a daughter approaching two and another daughter expected any time now! I’ve only done one funeral to date (it seems to take a great deal of time building a rapport with FD’s) but it was a wonderful experience, and I felt very privileged helping the family to remember their loved one.
Jenny Bullough (WelshMarches) I have always believed that rituals at key points in an individual’s life are hugely important but it took me fifteen years of muttering about inappropriate funerals and send-offs before I finally realised that, perhaps, I could do something about it. I’m a Humanist and, last year, I bit the bullet and applied to the BHA to train on their Funeral Celebrant’s course. Now accredited, I am working with families in the Welsh Marches putting together ceremonies that recognise and celebrate individual lives and achievements. It is touching, rewarding, satisfying and humbling work – and I love it.
Diane Deakin (Stoke onTrent) I love literature and live music, whether local bands or at festivals, and support CND and Amnesty International. My career has been spent working with Learning Disabilities: my adored daughter Michaela was born in 1988 with Down’s syndrome. I completed my training to become a staff nurse but was offered a place at Oxford Brookes university, so we moved to Oxfordwhere I had my son Jake in 1992. Back in Stoke onTrent17 years ago, I met Jim with whom I worked in the field of Learning Disabilities. We soon become good friends and eventually moved in together. He has supported and loved me in everything that I have done. Whether it is a week-end away camping, B & B or an all inclusive resort, I relish going to different places and having new experiences: I have visited many different countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and theAmericas. As well as the four children that we have between us, Jim and I now have a beautiful three year old Granddaughter, Lily.