Lydiate man finds comforting role as a funeral celebrant

Lydiate man finds comforting role as a funeral celebrant

by Danielle Thompson (June 2020)

WHAT does a Funeral Celebrant really do?

During the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of funerals being conducted by celebrants rather than religious leaders.

There are several reasons for this, one is that many people have little or no connection with organised religion. When it comes to funerals, people now have a choice. So, who, or what ,is a funeral celebrant?

The Champion spoke to Neil Spencer, the funeral celebrant who conducted the funeral for our late One Man and His Dog columnist Jim Sharpe, about his role.

Nail from Lydiate, said: “A celebrant is someone who works with families and funeral directors to produce and conduct a personal, bespoke, meaningful, and dignified funeral ceremony. This can be at a crematorium or at a graveside.

“Wherever the service takes place, the celebrant should create a ceremony which reflects the life and wishes of the deceased, their family, and friends. A celebrant can, if the family wishes, include prayers and hymns, or they can produce a totally non-religious ceremony. The type of ceremony depends totally on the wishes of the deceased and their family.

“Celebrants come from a variety of backgrounds and are usually trained by one of the many celebrant training companies operating in the UK.

“They are self-employed and have a variety of knowledge and skills which they use when constructing a funeral ceremony. A lot of celebrants are former teachers, actors, musicians, ex-service personnel, and members of the caring professions.

“The important thing is that a good celebrant will listen to you and work with you to create a ceremony which reflects the life of the deceased. A good celebrant should not impose his or her beliefs on the funeral ceremony, the ceremony is about the deceased, their family and friends, and not about the celebrant.

“My own background is in the Royal Navy and teaching, I have been a celebrant for more than three years. I work throughout Merseyside and West Lancashire, with funeral directors in Maghull, Burscough, Southport and Liverpool.

“Recently, I had the honour and privilege of conducting the ceremony for The Champion’s Jim Sharpe. Like all my ceremonies, it was vital that Jim’s funeral reflected his many interests and hobbies as well as providing an opportunity for his friends to say a sad but fond farewell to such a well-respected and loved member of our community.

“Each funeral ceremony is as unique as the individual, it will include music, poems, readings, and reflections. In spending time with the family and friends of the deceased, I can draw upon a wide range of resources to create and deliver a totally bespoke ceremony.

“Celebrants are not necessarily ministers of religion, or Humanists, we provide an alternative for people who do not have a strong connection to a church or faith group. Most good celebrants are also able to signpost people to a variety of resources which can help people through bereavement and loss.

“I have several contacts with local bereavement support groups and qualified counsellors. With the current difficulties around people not being able to meet in groups, celebrants may be able to arrange and conduct memorial events to take place later. Several families whom I have conducted funerals for are planning memorials in local pubs and other venues.

“If anyone wishes to find out more about the work of a funeral celebrant, they can email me at or visit my blog The Merseyside celebrant.”

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