Creating the right ceremony
Arranging a funeral or memorial to remember someone and say goodbye takes careful thought, probably at a difficult time when you already have much on your mind. What is right for one family may not be the best approach for another and I’m always happy to chat about ideas – my number is 07855 272241.
Humanist funerals are centred on the life of the person who has died, as well as the needs of those saying farewell. Family members and friends often want to speak themselves, and tributes can include diverse contributions, including traditional hymns or prayers if appropriate. Sometimes I write and deliver the entire ceremony, and if you are thinking about readings, poetry or music we can work together to find the right thing.
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.
A bit about me
I grew up in Elstead, Surrey and attended the local C of E schools. I always loved the music and language of assemblies, 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 adults. In my spare time I play the piano and clarinet, and I like walking, yoga, and cooking for friends and family.
I love being a celebrant. Meeting people and hearing their stories is fascinating, often educational, and always a privilege.
What people have said
“Just wanted to say thanks very much for a great service you did yesterday – excellent. A lot of people said to me how professional you were, well spoken and said just the right words.” Mike Piercy – Celebration of Life ceremony for his father Frederick Piercy at Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground, February 2022
“I just wanted to say unequivocally that you without doubt added to the beauty of our beloved Mum/Nana’s funeral yesterday. We have received so many lovely comments about what a wonderful service it was from everyone and our family abroad – it has been overwhelming and we are very proud. They thought like we did that you were marvellous and that a Humanist Celebration of Life is a wonderful thing. My Mum would have been so very pleased that she had a Humanist Service as that was a very important wish for her… We are truly grateful for the time, care and attention, good humour, patience, dignity, respect and guidance you gave to us all to allow us to do the very best for our beloved Ella. We will forever be grateful.” Suzie Gortler – Celebration of Life ceremony for her mother Ella Griffiths at Guildford Crematorium, November 2021
“I don’t think I wrote to thank you for your support and management of Mum’s funeral. It has taken me this long to finally replay the service online and see it as it looked to those watching on the day. It was beautifully done. You did a fantastic job of picking up the nuggets of information we gave you and turning them into a whole and evocative story. You conveyed Mum very well. You also managed the event, lightly but capably. I can see that now. I can see the extraordinary set of skills you bring to what you do and I am very grateful to you.” Kathy Jones – Celebration of Life ceremony for her mother Billie Jones at Easthampstead Park Crematorium, March 2021
“We certainly made the right choice by choosing Hannah as our humanist celebrant. With her warm and caring demeanour, she interpreted memories about our mother brilliantly and conveyed them with sentiment, blended with a moment of light heartedness at the right times.” Fiona Hillman – Celebration of Life ceremony for her mother Mary Moore at Guildford Crematorium, September 2020
“The whole family are so grateful to have found you; the ceremony under your guidance, was simply perfect… it all fell into place without a hitch or a false note. You got the measure of Auntie Di so very well and delivered such a warm and befitting tribute. Your help in finding the “perfect” venue was also welcomed and appreciated as was your suggestion for the pre-funeral family gathering. Actually, in a word….couldn’t have done it so well without you.” Brigitte Pickersgill – Celebration of Life ceremony for Diana Palmer Pickersgill at GreenAcres Heatherley Wood, July 2020
“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