Helen France, Funeral Celebrant Kent and East Sussex

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you based? Most of the funerals I take are at Tunbridge Wells, Charing, Blue Bell Hill, Folkestone or Hastings Crematorium. I am happy to take funerals further afield, but I would ask for a reasonable amount for the extra travel.

What you say you are an “independant celebrant” what does that mean?
As an independent celebrant I do not belong to any religious body or association that might place restrictions on what you can have in your funeral service, so that you can have as much or little religious content as you like. I will support and help you to have a really special funeral that is conducted in a professional manner and which pays a beautiful tribute to the your loved one.

Do you do humanist funerals?
I take a wide variety of funeral services, including but not restricted to humanist ones. For some reason there is a common misconception that celebrants only do humanist funerals and this is not true. A strictly humanist funeral would mean having absolutely no religious content at all. Personally, I believe it is really important for you to have the funeral that you want. So when I visit you I will ask you how much religious content (if any) you would like. It is entirely up to you, and whatever your wishes in the matter they will be respected.

Are there rules about what can I have in my funeral service?
No, with the help of a celebrant you can in effect have a bespoke funeral. Your farewells may include prayers, poetry, readings, music, contributions from family and friends, and may even reflect more than one faith.

Are there any restrictions?
If you are having a service in a crematorium, each funeral is allocated a set amount of time and this really does have to be respected, as it would be really unfair to any funeral parties who are booked in after you if you were to run late.

Apparently, there is a rumour that the staff at a West Country crematorium simply turn on the sprinkler system if a funeral service goes over its slot! I'm sure this is just a myth, but it underlines the fact that we have to be on time. However, if you want to have a longer than usual service, perhaps because a lot of family and friends will be contributing, then you can always book a double slot with the crematorium.

What are some of the reasons people have a celebrant?
Dislike of public speaking – nerves – fear of breaking down during the service - shyness. Also, family and close friends are often physically and emotionally exhausted after a bereavement, and it is an enormous relief to be able to hand the conduct of the ceremony over to a professional.

Do I have to have a Christian funeral service?
You are free to have whatever you like during the service. The service may reflect any faith, beliefs or values you choose.

Have you had any training? I heard that anybody can call themselves a celebrant!
I had an excellent and very thorough training with the The Fellowship of Independent Celebrants (FOIC) and I adhere to their code of professional conduct. In some countries (for example, Australia) the training and work of the celebrant is regulated by law but this is not the case in the UK.

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