As a contributor to New Humanist magazine and a former member of the board of the Rationalist Association, I have a strong commitment to the values of humanism.
And I believe that Humanists UK’s weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies are a vitally important, much-needed service.
So when I left my post as Dean of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster, becoming a celebrant seemed like a natural next step. Now I continue my association as an honorary fellow of the university.
I gained extensive experience of public speaking during my years at the BBC as editor of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, so I have a good deal of expertise as a broadcaster, and at handling public events.
But I think the one quality that links all of these activities – including my past career as a journalist and later as a Dean – is a real interest in people and their stories. Humanist ceremonies are a fantastic opportunity to make people feel special and to celebrate their lives. That’s what I love best.
It’s also very liberating for people to feel free to choose exactly the ceremony they want. There are no rules or set rituals for humanists. But we do have a huge store of advice, especially when it comes to choosing appropriate readings and music. Having run so many events and programmes featuring different kinds of music and literature, I have lots of ideas for making your ceremony special – whether you’re after a fairly traditional feel, or something more quirky.
I love the mixture of emotion and solemnity and sheer joy of the ceremonies that I’ve been leading. Each one is very different, very personal and always so rewarding.
Hatch, match, dispatch – why should the Church have the monopoly?