A Short Biography

So what is a Funeral Celebrant?

Generally it is the person who stands at the lectern in front of a microphone at a funeral and reads the service...that is what the public see.

It is of course much more than that.

You see I have been around quite a bit, well sixty something years anyway and living through all of the decades that followed gave me a good deal of life experience, which helps me in learning about the life of your loved one.

Some of those people were my age, or younger...some are thirty or more years older than me, but my knowledge...and the research I undertake gives me a good understanding of how they lived their lives.

Whether they were fighting in World War Two, National Service, a Teddy Boy, or a Punk, an Elvis or Adele fans...I will know something about it.

I am a father of four and grandfather of ten, worked as a gas fitter, and in an oil refinery, sold conservatories, been a surveyor, a foster carer, a facilitator for parents and a trainer for youth workers...been out of work, had my own business and been self employed several times.

Laughed and cried, and lost loved ones and welcomed new members into the family, when they were minutes old.

As a funeral celebrant I work with you to celebrate the life of the loved one you have lost.

To Begin

It generally all starts from a call from a funeral director or a funeral arranger, sometimes it is from one of the family, they ask if I am available for the service that they have booked with the crematorium.

They are led by the availability of the crematorium, and to a lesser degree the availability of the funeral director or funeral conductor...then of course if it is a religious service the availability of the clergy.

Bear in mind that the celebrant chosen will be the one who makes your particular service a memorable one.

Once the date and time is set, I will receive confirmation from the funeral arranger by email...then my work begins.

I will make the initial telephone call to you and book a time when we can meet, usually at your home, but this can be at another agreed place.

The Visit

The visit is the most important part of my job, it gives me an insight into you the family, and the loved one you have lost...and more importantly a feel for what kind of a service you would like.

I like to be as thorough as I can on the visit, gaining as much information as possible, which gives the best possible service in the longer term.

I will go through the practical issues first, based on the information given i.e. names, dates and times, cremation or burial, formal or informal funeral or if there is a theme.

All vital for confirmation of facts, but also to make sure you the family will receive the funeral you would like for your loved one.

We then move on to the service itself, there are a few variations depending on a cremation or a burial, although I think that burials are on the increase, the vast majority of funerals are cremations.

All crematoriums are similar, they may vary in terms of times for a service, some allow forty or forty five minutes, others an hour. 

All will say that includes fifteen to twenty minutes for entry and exit, so please bear in mind that only gives twenty minutes on some and up to forty five minutes on others for the service itself..

Some crematoriums are extremely tight on this and will cut a service if Uncle Ted wants to say a few words and he gets a little carried away and spends thirty minutes instead of his allotted time.

Some crematoriums will fine you if you go over time.

The older crematoriums lack the sophistication afforded by the newer ones; all have some facility for playing music.

Many are linked to the internet and have a vast selection of music at their fingertips; just as long as they are licensed i.e. they are available to buy on a CD.

Classical or contemporary, ballads or rock, jazz or punk, country or metal...all are available, depending on your loved ones taste or whatever makes it personal.

The newer ones will also have the facility to play a montage of photographs on screen and record the service on audio and visually, also Aunt Sue in Australia can view the service on live stream as well.

It may be that you or your loved one was not particularly religious and was not a regular at the local church; but you would like a prayer or a hymn...that is not a problem.

Some crematoriums have an organ and resident organist for hymn`s, others are played via their music system, either way the number of verses can be shortened if required...All Things Bright and Beautiful has seven verses plus refrains...we can reduce that to a popular four.

I will also ask if there is a family or popular poem that could be included, if not I can put in a more personal one, linked to hobbies or sports.

The life story information will come next, starting with a basic family tree, just so I know who is who...also who is to be included, and those that are not.

I will ask many questions, some people will know pretty much everything, others less so, either way their story forms the basis of the funeral.

It is understandable that the early life of a ninety year old man is a bit of a mystery to his children, they only knew him properly when they were toddlers!

If done right the conversations that follow at the reception after can be priceless;

“I didn`t know that Uncle Terry was in Egypt during the war, and he ....”


“Did you know that Aunt Peggy was a Teddy Girl and danced the jive with Uncle Alan when they met in 1954?”

All that information gained can be used to not only make the life story special, but the whole day and more.

At the visit we will also discuss the way you would like the order of the ceremony to run, so if you would like an Order of Service, then I can email the order of the service to whoever is designing and printing it for you.

I will also let you know when the life story will be ready for you to view, certainly a few days before the funeral, but often much quicker.

Once I have emailed you the life story, you can edit and amend, add or remove anything you wish, after all, that life story is yours to be read during the ceremony and it needs to be correct.

When you are happy with the life story just email me the final version: that is the version I will read at the service.

The Service

When you arrive at the crematorium chapel, I will be standing by the chapel entrance doors.

Both myself and the funeral director will greet you, I will check everything is in order with you, particularly if a friend or relative is giving a tribute.

It is natural that some people who were close to the deceased would like to give some kind of tribute on the day, whether that is a reading or poem, or an account of how they knew each other.

In fact those tributes can have more impact on the ceremony than the life story itself...it is personal.

However reading that on that very emotional day is often very difficult, if I have been emailed their tribute beforehand I am more than happy to read it on their behalf at any time.

Sometimes that can be part way through their tribute when emotions take over, I can finish those all important memories in their stead.

The funeral director will generally go through the entry into the chapel and check that you are not waiting for anyone who maybe held up in some way.

Just to pause here to say that if any family or friends would like to bear or part bear the coffin, the funeral director will give brief instructions to the bearers at that time.

If everything is in order the entrance music will begin and the coffin is drawn from the hearse, then on to the bearer’s shoulders with assistance from staff.

The normal procession is funeral director and I leading, the coffin, then immediate family, followed by everyone else.

There are a couple of other options of entry into the chapel, including everyone moves into the chapel first...however the funeral director would ask you which you prefer beforehand.

The procession moves down the aisle of the chapel and the coffin is placed onto the catafalque.

Close family would normally sit on the front row of seats; it is worth noting at this point that a conversation could be had within the family as to who will sit where.

Most chapels will hold something like six people on a row; consider which family members might be sitting on each row bearing in mind who would be best to support who.

Any Orders of Service or Bookmarks will generally be on the seats prior to entry into the chapel.

The funeral director will ensure the coffin is dressed with any flowers, photo`s or any other items, then turn to people entering the chapel to ensure they have a seat.

The funeral director, bearers will bow to the coffin and exit from the chapel...that is a cue for the music to fade the service is now ready to start.

The service will go ahead as planned and at the end of the service the funeral director will return to the chapel and upon my cue approach the coffin.

We will both bow to the coffin and the funeral director will indicate that you may leave whenever you are ready.

When everyone has exited the chapel the funeral director and chapel attendant will return into the chapel and take the flowers and photo`s from the coffin and take them out to the flower area.

You will have time to view the flowers and greet family and friends before moving on to the reception.