Not long ago, Philip, a close friend of mine, died. He believed there was an afterlife, and was ready to pass over to the other side. So it was a 'good' death. He had written his own funeral, which was very deep and spiritual, and which included a poem that his daughter asked me to read out at his commemoration. It was an honour for to do this service for him.
This experience gave me a strong conviction that it would also be an honour to do something similar for other people. Be that at their funerals, or in celebration of other life milestones such as weddings and vow renewals. Hence, my decision to become a celebrant.
My experience as an Advice Worker for the past 27 years has given me the skills to relate to people from all walks of life, and particularly people in distress. This includes being friendly and approachable, and the ability to offer support in the very particular distress of bereavement. My calm and supportive approach helps people approach stressful occasions (both funerals and weddings can be stressful events). And my experience in team leadership and management enables me to provide the careful planning and rigorous oversight to ensure events run smoothly. Participants can come away feeling uplifted.
Public speaking has been an important part of my life, in both professional and private spheres. My professional roles have included preparing for and speaking at tribunals, making presentations to Local Council meetings and scrutiny committees, chairing meetings, and speaking on behalf of people as their trade union representative. My current employment is with Windhill Advice Centre (team leader), and previous jobs have included work with the Blenheim Project, and as a civil servant with Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
In the private sphere, my long association with Bradford Playhouse, appearing on stage in numerous theatrical productions in both Bradford and at the Edinburgh Festival, gave me a real sense of how my spoken words are being received by those who are listening to them. This includes the ability to adjust my delivery to take account of different audiences. My theatrical activity - a real passion - only ceased on my becoming a mum in 1995.
Though born in Saltaire, my life for the past fifty years has been spent in central Bradford, and particularly Wibsey (including attendance at Grange School). My more recent qualifications include a Level 3 Certificate in Counselling from Shipley College. and a Level 3 Award in Education and Training given by the National Open College Network.
My training with the Fellowship of Independent Celebrants in 2017 is now being formalised through my current work towards completion of my National Open College Network Diploma in Civil Celebrancy.·