Funeral, Memorial, Celebration of Life Ceremonies and Funeral Filming Services in Harrogate, Leeds, York and the Yorkshire Dales
Humanist Funeral Ceremonies
In addition to my wedding celebrant work, I’m also an accredited humanist funeral celebrant, working under the name of ‘Grand Goodbyes’ in the Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, Wetherby, Leeds, York and Yorkshire Dales areas, and also in Newcastle.
An uplifting alternative
If you’re looking for a non religious, highly personalised, beautifully crafted and incredibly meaningful send off for a loved one, I specialise in writing and delivering uplifting funerals, memorials and celebration of life ceremonies that truthfully and comprehensively mark, honour and commemorate people’s lives and personalities.
Following a meeting with you, (this can be over Zoom or in person), I will craft a script that tells the story of the life of the deceased with great attention to detail, with compassion and respect and often with a peppering of gentle humour, if appropriate. I can do all the writing and talking, or I can include contributions from family and friends – whatever is easiest/most fitting for you.
I don’t work to a template. Every ceremony is different, engaging, thoughtful and meaningful. I was referred to by a funeral director as having a forensic ability to perfectly capture a personality and a life. As well as being a professional interviewer and writer, I’m a professionally trained speaker, who engages an audience with feeling, emotion and good story-telling . I’m certainly not sing-songy or maudlin,
As well as weaving your memories and wishes into a beautifully written, bespoke script. I will present it at the venue of your choice. Traditionally, funeral ceremonies are held at a crematorium chapel, or graveside – or at a green burial site, but times are changing. More and more often, families are opting for a direct cremation and a less formal, more uplifting celebration of life ceremony in a hotel, pub, village hall or your home. I have a PA system you can borrow if you want to include recorded or live music or a sing-a-long. And I can help you include audio visual tributes. There are no rules. Each circumstance is unique. I can work in any way you like. After the ceremony, you get to take away a keepsake presentation copy of the script.
Planning a funeral ceremony with me isn’t traumatic. Although there will doubtless be tears, there will be lots of guidance from me, and plenty of smiles too. I’m told the experience is often quite cathartic. Remembering a life a few days, weeks or months after the upset of a death and all the official paperwork can be extremely comforting. I’ve even worked directly with people before they die, so they can read the script before the ceremony.
Things to note before you finalise anything with the funeral director or a celebrant:
You can choose your own celebrant. You don’t have to use one that the funeral director recommends.
If you choose a crematorium chapel, the ceremony time for a single slot is usually a very strict 20 minutes long including music and readings. Although we can certainly squeeze an awful lot into 20 minutes, a double slot gives you an hour, so will seem more comfortable and less like a production line. If you choose to hold your funeral ceremony or celebration of life at a different venue (either with or without the coffin present – following a direct cremation), then there are no restrictions on time and this can be a better experience for some people. As long as access is good, it is possible to have a coffin present in a ceremony held in a hotel room.
I try and make the experience of a funeral or memorial ceremony much more uplifting than you would imagine. but please don’t take my word for it. Here’s a lovely email I received in February 2024.
“Thank you. Two words but, in this instance, they mean so much. Thank you for playing such a huge part in my mum’s grand goodbye. I ‘chose’ you from the Humanist website because I thought your picture showed you to be a person of warmth and empathy and how right that immediate instinct turned out to be.I know that some of my friends spoke to you after the funeral and shared their thoughts as to the service – how you captured and celebrated a woman that they know through me and how you also told them stories and anecdotes about my mum that they didn’t know. I’ve had many people tell me how they thought your warmth and compassion came through in how you delivered the story of mum’s life and how they were taken by just how much the service was about her, the one person we’d come to celebrate and say farewell to … which is exactly what I said I needed it to be when we sat at my kitchen table those few weeks ago.I know that I may also have proved to be a recruiter for future humanist celebrations in years to come! So be it, if they are as heart warming, comforting and lovely as that which you helped to create yesterday, then who could want anything more. Oh, and yes, my cousin Johnny was massively taken with your green suit … he’s partial to a bit of green velvet he said.For now, thank you for helping me say a gloriously grand goodbye to my lovely mum.”
Slideshows and Video Message Films
Using professional video editing skills gained in my previous role as a video producer, I am very happy to help create a montage of stills or video clips to use within your ceremony. Ask for details.
Life Story Documentary Video
If you are interested in documenting your loved one’s life in a warm, creative, narrated audio-visual life story video, perhaps for a legacy for grandchildren to watch and learn about a grandparent or bereaved children to learn about their parent in the future, I can help. This is also an excellent option to mark and remember specific professional or creative achievements. It can include photographs, video clips, music and contributions and memories from friends and family for others to enjoy online or as a downloaded file.
Please click through to Grand Goodbyes – my main website for details.
Want to know more?
- Please call or email me for a very informal chat.