Creating the right ceremony for you and your family
Arranging a ceremony to remember someone and say goodbye takes careful thought, probably at a difficult time when you already have much on your mind. Funerals are about accepting the reality that death touches us all, but often they are about life and love too, acknowledging the connections we all share.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, funeral ceremonies have been adapting to a more intimate approach to celebrating a life. While social distancing is making bereavement an even harder experience for many, the written and spoken word can feel more important and sustaining than ever. I’ve led many ceremonies where family and friends have watched the funeral from a distance, in real time, on a webcast from the crematorium. This is a heartwarming alternative to large gatherings, but by no means the only option. As always, what is right for one family may not be the best approach for another so to discuss the various possibilities please feel free to call me on 07855 272241.
Sharing memories can be an important stage in coping with grief and Humanist funerals are centred on the life of the person who has died, as well as the needs of those saying farewell. As a celebrant, I can do as much or as little as you’d like to help with that. Family members and friends often speak themselves, and tributes can include diverse contributions, including traditional hymns or prayers if appropriate. If you are undecided on readings, poetry or music we’ll work together to find the right thing. On the day, I’m always ready to step in if anyone feels unable to speak as planned, and if you’d prefer me to write and deliver the entire ceremony, I’m happy to do so.
I’m familiar with the local crematoria, and often work at the idyllic GreenAcres Heatherley Wood meadowland burial park, and at Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground with its stunning glass pavilion and nature reserve. Ceremonies in the great outdoors go ahead, no matter what the weather brings! You may like to take a stroll around these peaceful places as the teams there are always very welcoming. There’s further useful information to help with your planning on the excellent Natural Death Centre website.
A bit about me
Brought up in Elstead, Surrey, I attended the local C of E schools. I always loved the music and language of assemblies and festivals but even at a young age I noticed when content didn’t feel relevant to me and other pupils who were non-religious or of different faiths, so it’s important to me that ceremonies I lead feel inclusive to all present.
After taking A levels at Charterhouse, I studied English Literature at Exeter University. A career in marketing followed, pleasantly interrupted by my four children who are now grown up. In my free time I help my partner to run the music summer school CSSM.
I love being a celebrant. Meeting people and hearing their stories is fascinating, often educational, and always a privilege. You can read more about me here.
What people have said
“We just wanted to say a big thank you for the splendid way you conducted Tony’s service… nothing seemed to be a bother to you. You were a huge help all the way through and we were so glad it was you.” The Clarke family – Celebration of Life ceremony for Tony Clarke at Easthampstead Park Crematorium, June 2020
“We just wanted to say thank you so much again for leading our final farewell to Diane on Monday. The ceremony was just perfect for us (despite the many tears shed) and your wonderful words, delivery, tone and especially kindness were commented on by everyone. Some of our guests asked if you knew Diane, as you were so spot on in everything you said…thanks to your thorough and thoughtful meeting with us. We really could not have asked for more and felt completely confident that you would ‘get it right’ for us! Thank you!” Wayne and Clare Rogers – Celebration of Life ceremony for Diane Taylor at Basingstoke Crematorium, February 2020
“I just wanted to thank you again for the very central role you played in making Marian’s funeral such a memorable occasion – not just yesterday itself but in the whole planning of the day. I lost count of the number of people – both religious and non-religious alike – who remarked on how lovely they felt the whole service had been and how fitting a tribute it was to Marian’s memory” Gordon MacLean – Celebration of Life ceremony for his wife Marian, November 2018
“I have just received your hard copy of the text for the two ceremonies in Stuart’s memory… and am reminded as to just how perfect it all was, thanks in large part to you. I have had numerous people write or tell me in person how much they enjoyed the ceremony to celebrate Stuart’s life… I really appreciate all that you did to make the day a success” Noel Botha – Farewell and Celebration of Life ceremonies for his husband Stuart Wilson at Woking Crematorium and The Lightbox, September 2018
“I knew from the outset that you were the perfect person – Dad would have loved you, and you him. You have a real gift for getting across the warmth and energy of the script without taking it over” Jessie Rogers – Celebration of Life ceremony for her father Rex Lane, January 2018
“Hannah was so engaged and genuine, it was almost as if she was a family friend. Everyone said the ceremonies they attended were perfect” M Howes – Cremation and Memorial ceremonies for Sylvia Codling, November 2017
“Please thank Hannah for adding just the right note” Charles and Carol Howe – Celebration of Life ceremony for Pat Hewett, July 2017