These comments are from some of the cards, notes and emails I received following services I conducted. They were unsolicited and are reproduced here with the consent of the writers.
"Thank you so much for a truly wonderful service, it was beautifully written and narrated... what a gifted person you are. Everyone commented on what a wonderful service you gave, it was personal and meaningful and Olga would certainly have approved. Once again, thank you."
"Thank you for making the goodbye and celebration of mum's life so very, very special...
I know my sister Maria and I wanted something very special for her as our last goodbye and it was everything we had hoped for. Although I live in Cheshire, if in the future I am asked, or indeed when any member of my family may need to organise a funeral, I will certainly give them your details."
Maria & Paul Chinn and Susan Raw
"We would like to express our deep appreciation - through your quiet empathy and gentle humour you transformed an inevitably sad occasion into an uplifting celebration and reflection on Dominique's life. Sincere thanks to you."
David & Sue Davies
"I just wanted to thank you for the lovely service you created for my mother. You really captured what and who my mother was, which is incredibly clever to do in a short space of time and after a brief meeting with my sister and I. So many people commented on what a lovely service it was afterwards, many saying that it is the sort of funeral they would like. You have certainly converted me to having a humanist funeral. Once again, thank you for helping us say 'goodbye' to mum. I'm sure she would have approved."
"Thank you for conducting Nick's ceremony with such warmth and grace. Your presence and the manner in which you took all you had gleaned from us about our beloved Nick made a terrible day into something unbearably sad but which was bathed in the light of love which all there emanated towards Nick and all of us. Thank you so much for taking us all through this day."
"Thank you so much for yesterday. It was just as we had hoped and your skill and your humanity helped make a terrible event the very best it could be. We are all heartbroken as I am sure you could feel - but we are comforted by the very Nick-ness of the ceremony - which you enabled us to feel. And for those who did not know Nick as we did - to have a real sense of Nick and the love in that room for him. Thank you so, so much."
Della Hirsch and Lynne Featherstone
"Mum has taken a great deal of comfort from you, and the perfect unique eulogy you delivered for us. We needed as a family to do the right thing for Dad, and for us, to enable us as a family to start grieving and letting go. Even with our clear ideas we still floundered. In stepped you with your effortless dignity and grace, and made all of our unspoken needs and desires a reality. I don't know if it is training, or a gift, all I know is that it was perfect for us. Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. I would give anything to have not have had it happen, But sadly it did, and I could not have wished for it to have gone any better."
"A thousand words cannot express our thanks to you for your generosity of time and care when you visited us to talk about Dad, for the beautiful personal tribute you created and delivered yesterday with such professionalism and compassion and for your kindness and thoughtfulness at the ceremony to all our family and friends. Pippa, your contribution to his farewell will always be a part of our fond memories of Dad."
"It amazes me how you can write so beautifully and appropriately about someone you did not know. I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done to lead this ceremony."
Anke van Lenteren
"Chris and I wanted to thank you for everything you did at Jamie's cremation and funeral. We could not have given Jamie the send off we did without your presence. You have a unique skill to capture and summarise a person’s life and spirit. I'm very fortunate that Jason put me in contact with you."
"Thank you so much for the lovely ceremony you did for us and Benjamin last Friday. Your words were so fitting and perfect; your kindness and empathy shines through when you speak. I'm still impressed by how quickly you got to know and understand us and took on board every little detail of 'our' story and familial relationships. Thank you also for stepping in when people turned up early and I was still busy (and stressing a little!) trying to get things ready. Everyone commented on what a beautiful ceremony and burial it was."
Victoria Hurrell & David Powell
"I wanted to express my sincere appreciation for the depth of your consideration, sensitivity and sheer skill in guiding our family through my mother's funeral. Considering the ludicrously short time you had available, being able to spend so much time with my father and siblings from which you created such an affecting homily was frankly nothing short of incredible. The funeral was full of true, loving and funny sentiments about my mother, without ever falling into sentimentality - a rare and precious skill... The focus on Mum and her life was energising and life enhancing. You should know that the hour and a quarter you spent on the phone with Dad was probably more important to his grieving than anything else, aside from him having been at Mum's side at the moment she passed away. He is, I know, deeply grateful for that time with you. I'm so grateful we found you to lead the funeral, and I know that many who attended the funeral came away with a very different, and more positive view of a humanist funeral than they'd anticipated! Thank you again for all your support."
"Thank you so much for all you did to make today's service so perfect. Lots of people came up to me afterwards to say how lovely and appropriate they thought the service was, and Ceri and Zoe in particular couldn't quite get over the contrast between today and their uncle's funeral earlier this year! Both Paul and I really appreciate the amount of effort you put in to help make this such a memorable day for us both."
"Many thanks for your lovely celebration of the life of Leslie Hoskins earlier this week. Beautifully and sensitively delivered, it was key to what was a most poignant yet uplifting day for all of us. From all of our family I would like to express our gratitude."
"On behalf of our family and of course myself, I wanted to say thank you for an amazing service at our father’s cremation. Everybody commented on your beautiful, relaxed and relevant words and delivery which made all feel at ease and very comfortable. Everyone afterwards was convinced that you had met our Papa! Once again Pippa, thank you so much, you made a difficult time manageable and spoke in such a warm and genuine manner that you made us all smile. We will never forget you for doing that for our family."
"I just wanted to say a sincere thank you for your huge part in arranging our brother's funeral. As you so correctly said in your introduction Gus was a one-off, a true individual. Without your searching questions we would not have so clearly known how we wanted his funeral service to flow. You treated us with great respect and patience... we had a short timescale and strong views - thank you for pulling it all together. So many family members and friends said it was a beautiful service. We could not have wished for a nicer or more professional celebrant. Gus would have enjoyed your words just as we did. Thank you again."
"Thank you so much again for conducting a perfect service for our dear Mum yesterday. You captured everything about our lovely Mum in such a short period of time, it was truly amazing. You are such a talented and special person."
"I wanted to say a huge thanks for the beautiful service that you conducted for Roy, which was eloquent, sensitive and inclusive for all. You captured Roy's personality and spirit perfectly and it is hard to believe that you had not actually met him. I know lots of people took comfort from the service and many have stated that when it is their turn they would now choose to have a humanist celebrant rather than a traditional service, as it was much more meaningful."
"It was a beautiful service and we received lots of positive feedback from people who attended and now want to have a humanist service when their time comes. You made a very difficult day so much easier to get through and I cannot praise your efforts enough. You made time to come and see us all before you put together a truly beautiful service for Roy’s friends and family, for this I'd like to say a huge thank you."
"Well, what can I say? Thank you for the amazing role you played in helping me, my friends and family to celebrate the wonderful life of my beautiful daughter Alice. Every single thing you said was perfect. You have an amazing compassion and a talent for understanding people, and I feel as though you really knew her. I can't tell you how many people have come to me and said things like "I know it's a funny thing to say, but it's the best funeral I've ever been to". I found your words and the spirit in which you delivered the service very comforting and drew a great strength from you which enabled me to deliver my words and thoughts in an equally eloquent manner. Even little Daisy was inspired and said her little poem perfectly. Lots of people have asked me for your number and asked where I found you. I think you must have been sent by an angel... Thank you once again... for everything..."
"I really can't begin to thank you enough for the wonderful service you held for Alice. It was everything my family could have hoped for and more. It was so kind of you to have taken the time to get to know the Alice we all loved and it was apparent by the service that you really had a feel for who Alice was... So, so many people commented on just how beautiful the service was, many saying it was the nicest service they've ever attended and I've only you to thank for that. Thanks again for all you did. I couldn't have asked for a better person."
"I wanted to write to you and thank you for giving such a wonderful service for Alice. Everybody I spoke to said what a fitting tribute it was. You captured the nature of her spirit perfectly and even the funeral director said it was one of the best services that he had ever attended. I know that the raw materials you had to work with were very good with Alice being the sort of person she was, but you conveyed the message so beautifully and for that I am extremely grateful… Please accept my sincerest thanks for what you did and the way in which you did it… No-one could have done a better job."
"On behalf of my family thank you so much for the service you conducted for my sister yesterday at Mortlake. It all went extremely well thanks to your exemplary presentation. One of my mother's friends of many years standing, who knew Consuelo too, thought you were a friend of Consuelo's such was the sensitive manner of your approach. It could not have been done better. Thank you so very much."
"We are very grateful to you for doing a lovely funeral for Jenny. I think she would have loved it and you steered very skillfully between the various potential difficulties - so that everyone felt she had a proper, and even splendid, send-off."
"You have been a very kind and wonderful part of this process and have made it infinitely easier to bear. [Your words were] absolutely beautiful. I really could not have imagined that you would be able to produce such a perfect portrait of my Mum. It seems impossible that you have not met her. I think she would have loved it herself and I will be forever grateful to you that she has had such a fitting tribute."
"I just want to say thank you so much for this afternoon. We really appreciated your sympathetic, beautiful talk. Everybody said that this was one of the best funerals."
"I just wanted to say thank you for conducting a simple, yet excellent service. The music was superb and you spoke eloquently conveying to a tee my thoughts and feelings. I know my Mother would have approved!"
"The transcript you sent us is a wonderful keepsake for us to have in Julian's memory… As for the service, people went out of their way to praise the format… in particular your overall handling of the funeral. My family were very proud of Julian and I am greatly comforted by the fact that we gave him a dignified and respectful farewell. As you know, this was very important to me and meant a lot to my family. You identified Julian's qualities exceedingly well… this is a testament to the clearly painstaking efforts you made to encapsulate the essence of Julian's life during the service. It was truly appreciated by all who loved Julian."
"We would like to thank you for the moving and beautiful service that you conducted for our daughter. We felt that you gave such a rich and vivid portrayal of our dear Issy during her short life. Although Issy was so young when she died she has left us with many wonderful memories, which at the funeral you were able to convey with such warmth and humour. Our family and friends have all expressed how the service you conducted was able to reflect Issy’s zest for life and her incredible ability to engage with such a wide range of people. You also have an amazing ability to engage with people as it was so apparent that following your meeting with us and contact with our family and friends you had been able to gather so much about Issy’s life. We were very anxious about the funeral but you were such a reassuring and calm presence and were able to put everyone at their ease despite the grief and disbelief of those who attended. For the young people who came it was particularly important to give them a positive and comforting environment where they could feel safe to express their grief at the loss of Issy. Thank you for your kindness and sensitivity for which we were so grateful at a time of great tragedy and despair."
"We were so fortunate to have found you and delighted by the way you officiated at the celebration of Amanda’s life. You presented such a rounded and balanced view of our many faceted and much missed daughter and sister. Truly all who were present on Thursday strongly felt her presence and felt involved in their own ways in celebrating her too short but wonderful life. So many friends and relatives have commented upon the memories they will keep forever of the dignity, comfort and feelings of engagement that they experienced. May we all in the family thank you for your understanding and so human précis of Amanda’s life and achievements."
"Both I and the kids want to say thank you for making it a wonderful service today. We placed our trust in you and with consummate professionalism you represented Amanda and her life accurately and movingly. Many thanks."
"Thank you so much, you did an amazing job. It's very hard to believe that you hadn't actually met Amanda, it felt like you knew her so well. I think she would have really liked you and everything you said. Thank you again."
"It was a beautiful ceremony and you conducted it with such warmth and sensitivity. Thank you."
Harald, Nahid & Marc Lipman, Hugh Mullan, Henrietta Beaumont
and Louise Carpenter
"Thank you so much. Dick's funeral was absolutely lovely, and everyone said you were so good, getting everything beautifully right. I am so utterly happy that I found you and I am happy for you to tell the world how wonderfully pleased we were with our ceremony, as we are all so happy about it."
"Thank you very much for your contribution to Mum's funeral. Your address managed to capture her spirit and character very well... I felt very comforted... There was no way that I could have contemplated a traditional christian religious service, and Mum's instructions were very clear on the subject. However I must say that I had been a little apprehensive that without the traditional structure the occasion might seem strained and disjointed... However everyone I spoke to seemed to think that it had all fitted together very naturally, and that it had helped them to remember and appreciate the person they had known."
"Thank you so much for conducting my mother's funeral so well. The research you did really paid off in the personal comments and stories you gave in the tribute. It was wonderful to have a funeral for her which was so accurate and individual - not just a generic service with her name inserted into it."
"Thank you very much for sending the transcripts of my mum's funeral. They are so nicely presented and the family will always treasure them. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you again for the wonderful service you provided us with. By this I don't mean only the ceremony itself, but also the time you spent with us at my dad's house. As soon as I met you I felt confident that you were exactly the right person for the task in hand. This feeling gathered strength as you listened to what we had to say about my mum and I was reassured and comforted by your warmth and sensitivity. To be able to talk about my mum like that at that time was enormously helpful to me. The ceremony itself was just right and all who attended enjoyed hearing such a personal tribute. You got everything spot on, down to the last detail and the warmth of your delivery lifted our spirits. I cannot thank you enough, Pippa."
"Thank you so much for making yesterday a real celebration of my father's life. You painted a picture of him that captured all his good points and reminded us with humour of the rather more challenging aspects of his personality! I know everyone felt happy and uplifted by your address because of how it reflected his life and character. Huge thanks again."
"I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful portrait you painted of my father Alec yesterday. It was a truly uplifting and poignant moment and I am sure Alec would have approved!"
"We just wanted to say a big thank you for your help today. We could not have asked for anything more, everything about today was perfect and was just as we wanted, and most importantly it felt like a real celebration of mummy's life, and a very happy time. You are doing such a special, important job, and with such sensitivity. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
"...My mother’s [...] was a humanist service, filled with the usual tributes and poems and music [...] and with the added treat of a rather remarkable humanist celebrant. This lovely, kind lady held it all together expertly, speaking eloquently at length about my mum, negotiating the usual unexploded familial landmines like an unshakeable divorce mediator. She was sensitive, humorous, respectful, despite never having met her..."
Henrietta Pretty & Rachel Frowd and from Henrietta's blog, marketingtomilk.wordpress.com, 'In Memoriam', posted on 8th May 2011
"Thank you again for helping us to create such a great service. I feel like we captured the essence of Neil perfectly and had just the right balance of sadness and laughter. I am really pleased that you were involved in this service. You talked about a Neil that everyone recognised even though you had never met him. You clearly have a gift for listening and teasing out what's important."
"What a great job. You put the service together, and delivered it, with a great deal of intelligence, sensitivity, and imagination. And it worked splendidly. I've not been to a service like it before, and don't expect to again."
"My daughter and I would like to thank you very much for the excellent tribute to my wife which you delivered on Wednesday 13th April. You obviously listened most carefully to all our rather formless comments and created a carefully structured and balanced address. It would be very easy to make a mistake in these circumstances, but you did not make a single slip. All our friends attending the funeral were unanimous in their praise. One of them wrote to us and this is what he said:- "I thought that Pippa Wilcox's retrospective of Pat's and your lives together was a model of balanced perception - light but not frivolous, full of insight but in no way sanctimonious." I am copying this letter in to the funeral director, because we owe it to him that we met you and I would like him to know that we are most grateful."
"Thank you so much for officiating at Ian's funeral yesterday. The eulogy really hit the right note and was everything I wanted it to be and more. Everyone was most impressed and felt everything that needed to be said was, and I know Kathy, Jamie and Jo felt better for hearing your words and felt it went as well as it could have done. You made a difficult occasion easier to bear. I hope and believe they have a better picture of Ian, as a well man, before he was overcome by his illness which is just what I had hoped for, and I have you to thank for that. I would be grateful if you could let me know the name of the poem you read? It truly was the perfect selection. Thanks too for organising the music, all the pieces were brilliant. Even the religious amongst our small party were very moved by your words and felt you were the perfect choice to have made to run the service. I know the time and effort you must have put in to writing those heartfelt words. Your time was not wasted and you have made a real difference to Ian's family. It was lovely meeting you, you are such a warm and sincere lady. Thank you so much for all you have done."
"I just wanted to express a very sincere 'thank you' for organising and managing the Ceremony yesterday, allowing us to relax, and enjoy the memories of my mother and to feel once again the love she generated in those around her. It is a day which we can remember with pride: not just in my mother, but to have been part of it. Thank you once again."
"Just to echo my sister Caroline, I wanted to thank you so much for everything you did to make yesterday feel like a real celebration of my mother's life, rather than simply a day filled with feelings of loss and sadness. We were all so impressed by your thoroughness and professionalism at every stage of the process, the way that you remembered and took care to refer to all family members in your tribute to our mother and your sensitivity (and patience) in managing all of our various communications. I suppose the most important thing to say is that everyone who was there, felt that you managed to create the most wonderful narrative of my mother's life, which felt absolutely true both to her and to us. Thank you so much."
"I wanted to thank you so much for all the work that went into yesterday's ceremony. Even knowing the meticulous preparation you put in, I was overwhelmed by the way you managed to capture so many subtleties of the conversations and written tributes, to put together something that had exactly the flavour we would have wished and a mood that was just right, full of love, respect and warmth. So many people, close family, old friends or new, complimented us on the sense they had of my mother's personality that I hope you too got a sense of the chords you had struck. Thank you again for the care with which you researched, compiled and delivered the ceremony and for so sensitively evoking our mother for all of us."
"Thank you so much for the transcript, and indeed for everything you did to make Uncle Jack's funeral service so moving and memorable. Your tribute was so fitting for the occasion, being moving, affectionate and humorous in equal measure. l was very close to tears at the beginning of the service, and smiling at the end. l think that says all that needs to be said. So thank you once again for the time you took to compose this service - l will certainly recall your wonderful words with as much affection as l will remember the man himself, and those memories will visit me very often indeed."
"Thank you for the lovely service that you performed for our John. It was indeed a beautiful service and really captured the lovely human being that he was. Many people commented on the lovely send off that we gave him and were very impressed at your calm, concise and compassionate portrayal of a very special man. Thank you for taking the time to speak to his family and friends. It was so important to my sister that John's final day was special and personal to him and his life. This you achieved perfectly."
"Thank you so much for your recent presiding over my dear friend Gail's funeral. Your invaluable, compassionate and warm contribution ensured a beautiful ceremony and much needed ritual ending for myself and Katie particularly but of course for all of Gail's friends and family. Thank you."
"Thanks for sending this [funeral transcript] over. It’s great just to re-read it and my over-riding feelings are those of joy and a job well done... So many people came up to me on the day singing your praises. You’d taken the time to really get to understand Roy, you asked all the right questions, and you articulated a picture of him that was honest, charming and insightful. On top of that, you set absolutely the right tone for the service – respectful and solemn but fun and inspiring too. Those two hours we spent talking about Roy had the added benefits of helping me personally come more to terms with what happened while galvanising my own picture of my big bro. So a huge thank you – from me, the family and everyone else who attended."
"An extremely belated Thank You... so much wonderful and extremely positive feedback from all who attended the service in the Chapel... We could not have been happier with the extraordinary, evocative and beautiful service that you created at the eleventh hour no less - it was a big ask and one which you fulfilled quite brilliantly - to think we sat with you for the first time on Sunday morning to talk of Carla and two days later we were all gathered in Brompton Cemetery listening to the magical tapestry you had woven from all the myriad sources you collected in two short days!! Pippa you are a veritable star - you have a special gift and it was our great good fortune that Paul suggested we contact you."
"I wanted to say how pleased we were with the service you arranged for us and particularly the words you chose to say to us all. Some people asked me later how long you had known Mary such was the intimacy and tenderness of the address you gave. I want you to know that for us, it was much more than words of comfort from you but an inspiring call to cherish what we had with Mary and to carry that forward with us into the future. I shall never forget the care you put into your preparation when you came to see us, your diligence in contacting those close to us and of course helping us to create what will always be a sad but forever memorable occasion for us. Thank you once more."
"Thank you so much for the attention and care that you put into Liz's funeral... the service was perfect and entirely appropriate. I felt that a very accurate picture of Liz was depicted... it was a fitting tribute to a woman who had lived life to the full. Stan, who quite understandably, was dreading the service actually enjoyed it. You made a very difficult and potentially stressful experience simple and lovely."
"It all went wonderfully. Thank you for all your work and your sympathetic handling of a deeply emotional morning. I shall not forget it, nor many of those attending who commented on "how right" it felt."
"This is the first opportunity I have had to once again thank you for all your efforts last week. Your sympathetic but entirely professional support helped turn a sad occasion into a rather memorable and dare I say it a happy one. If there is such a thing as a good funeral then I think we had it and to a great degree that was down to you. I know my mum would have enjoyed it and that makes us all very pleased. I think that we made several good decisions concerning the funeral but the one to engage you was the best. Thanks again."
"Pippa, 'Thank You' are the first words that come to mind to convey how appreciative our families and friends are for the way you conducted the celebration of Marie's life. However, in this case they seem totally insufficient to pass on to you how grateful we are. The warmth and affection conveyed during Marie's funeral service both moved and uplifted all concerned and was everything that we all wished it to be. It was a very special service for a very special lady. All of the very many people who attended were convinced that you were a long-standing family friend. You have a very rare and special talent and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing this with us on such a very important occasion."
"We just wanted to say a huge thank you to you for the most wonderful and spiritual funeral service we have ever attended. Marie's death was a very emotional time for us all and the sensitivity and care with which you conducted the proceedings made it a very moving occasion. It was so in tune with Marie's personality and summed up her life perfectly. Thank you once again for making 13th January 2011 a truly memorable day."
Bob Brown & family and Pat Cox & family
"What an excellent service you offer to your customers: not just at the funeral, which was a wonderful and very moving ceremony, but also afterwards. It was very kind of you to send me a copy of the words you spoke about my mother and also to take the trouble to send my father a large print copy. Thank you for all you did to make sure everyone's comments were included. It came across very well on the day and I was delighted that it read so well in print and was so attractively presented too."
"Thank you for so much for everything you have done for Colin, Colin's family and me. You covered some very important aspects of Colin's life... he would have approved of the service... It was beautiful and so much more than I expected... It was certainly a very cathartic experience... I feel proud that we gave Colin the honourable send off that he deserved."
"Thank you so much for Friday... we could not have asked for more... you are an amazing person. The comments from people who attended were great, some even saying that it was the nicest funeral that they had been to... Even some friends who go to church were really impressed... my Dad would be proud."
Siobhan Murphy & family
"I have been meaning to write to you for a while now... I wanted to say that everybody commented and still comments on your speech. The hospice nurses are disappointed that they are not allowed to make recommendations, because they would like to recommend you to other parents in the future. I also wanted to say that if Caspar and I ever get married, we'd love you to be the celebrant of our wedding."
Rute Robalo & Caspar Sewell
"Thank you for making such a lovely service for my father. Everyone who attended commented on your skill and all the contributors felt that you handled the whole process with warmth and tact. The ceremony went extremely well and honoured my father with affection and humour. You conducted the service with a generosity of spirit and dignity that my father would have appreciated. I think that this is just the way he would have liked to have been celebrated. Thank you for making this possible."
"We were at the service you carried out today at Mortlake Crematorium for families who have lost babies and children... We just wanted to thank you so much for a beautiful service. The words and the poems were perfect and you read them so beautifully... me, my husband and my family will definitely return next year."
"Thank you for the very meaningful and thoughtful remembrance service you provided on Sunday. Both my wife and I connected with the service in a much deeper way than the church services we have attended previously. We thought the day was very fitting and allowed us to connect with our daughter and strengthen the loving bond we have with her. We thought releasing the doves was also a very special part of it, my wife very much enjoyed holding one of them and we both thought that watching them fly off together was moving and quite fitting. Thanks once again."
Kate Espezel, Jon & Louise Furniss and Natasha Bradshaw
"On behalf of my entire family, I wanted to thank you for the service you performed for my dad. Everyone agreed it was exactly what he would have wanted. You managed to capture his spirit and personality perfectly and we were able to relive many happy memories through the stories you shared. We appreciated your kindness and consideration during a difficult time. Thank you again for everything. You are absolutely wonderful."
"I want to thank you with all my heart for Billie's celebration - you made it so special and everyone has said how amazing you were. You are a very special lady and we were so lucky to have you. Thank you."
"You were perfect for Billie... Thank you so much for coming into our lives... and helping to make the celebration of Billie's life the best it could be - you were amazing... What a very special person you are. I loved the way you were able to capture Billie from the time you spent with my sister Cheryl. She instantly knew how right you were for our beloved Billie and that you knew how special she was and how loved. On behalf of all my family, Pippa - thank you for your calm presence, insight, thoughtfulness and compassion."
Cheryl Madley and Jenny Madley
"Thank you for conducting Jenny's service with such professionalism, sensitivity and respect for us all... the day meant something to everyone and I have no doubt that your role in that was key. Personally I found your presence and involvement comforting which can only be because I had complete confidence in your abilities."
"Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into your address for Jenny's service today. You spoke as though you knew her as well as any of us did. You really managed to capture Jenny's true self and spoke so discreetly and honestly about her difficult times... You were able to include all the people in Jenny's life with equal importance, family, lovers and friends, effortlessly. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to our wonderful friend and I salute you for your part."
"Sorry to contact you again after so many months but I wanted you to know once more how beautifully you summed up my beautiful friend Jenny Plastow! I have tonight re-read your tribute and am still blown away by your accurate summing up of a very unusual life. You were so discreet in your description of her relationships... she would have been very proud of your "narrative style"! Her unconventional love life would have been tricky for lesser literate people to describe without seeming cheap - you portrayed her with the pride and dignity she deserved. I want to send you my thanks again for what you did for her. You were perfect. Thank you."
Claire Plastow and Coralie Masters (twice!)
"Heartfelt thanks for the ceremony you conducted. As you know, we were very anxious that it should be tasteful and to show John for the person he really was, but we could not believe how well you told the story of John's life, it was as if you had known him for a very long time. Everyone who came to the celebration at the hall commented on how beautifully you had presented the whole ceremony and many thought you had been an old family friend. Once again, many thanks and we would have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone who is seeking a humanist ceremony."
"Thank you for sending the transcript of John's service, and thank you for making it such a moving yet comforting occasion. The time and care you took to get to know John ensured that the ceremony was an accurate and affectionate reflection of John's life and relationships. The inclusiveness of your words enabled everyone present to say goodbye to John in their own way. Your warmth, coupled with your professionalism, made it easier for us all to get through this difficult time, and we know that John would have thoroughly approved of the ceremony."
Yvonne & Jonathan Greenwood and Frances & Marion Greenwood
"Thanks again for making such a brilliant job of Gwendolyn's funeral. You really made a difference to all of us and did it with great dignity and thoroughness. We were lucky to have got you."
"Many thanks for all your thoughtful and careful work on Gwendolyn's funeral. A difficult time in very many different ways for her family. You handled it all beautifully and with great sensitivity. It was a fantastic service everyone agreed."
you so much for the wonderful service you conducted for my Dad. You really
captured everything about him and the detail was fantastic. I really
appreciated your mix of sensitivity for the situation and touches of humour. The
feedback we received afterwards was great... so many people commented on it
being a wonderful service and perfect for Dad, and that they would love to have
something similar themselves. I also really enjoyed meeting with you and
talking about him. Although I previously thought it might be difficult to get
through, it was a really nice experience just to talk about him... Thanks
again from all of us - Mum, Nic and James all thought the service was perfect
and thank you for your support. I'm glad you were able to make this your career
and help people through difficult times."
"Words cannot express how grateful I am to you. Everyone I spoke to said what a wonderful job you did. You were the right person for us and we are so glad to have met you. I only wish my Frank could have heard those words."
"I thought the service was absolutely wonderful. I have always found services at the crematorium very cold, short, impersonal and almost meaningless. I thought you steered us through what was truly a celebration of a life well-lived, with sensitivity and grace. Thank you once again for such a fitting send-off for Frank."
"‘Thank you’ seems rather inadequate for the quite beautiful way in which you conducted the proceedings. It seemed to be unanimously agreed that your pitch perfect narrative had been the significant factor in creating a wonderful service. I really appreciated the way you blended sensitivity for the occasion with humour. I’m sorry to say that having attended a few funeral services, clearly this is not the case with all those - Humanist or otherwise - who undertake this role. However on Friday I felt the exquisite care you had taken in both the planning and the delivery of the ceremony was plain for all to see and meant that I and I’m sure many others, found ourselves in a situation where we felt able to relax and fully appreciate the man who Frank really was. One minor (but for me significant) aspect is that I will also be eternally grateful to you because you provided an opportunity for my (young) daughter to both reflect on what humanism really means and to also appreciate an example of true excellence in terms of the way you organised the event. Clearly you have a unique set of gifts. Having seen how this was done I have now decided that I would like to have something similar for myself. Once again, thank you!"
Amina Memon, Catherine Harper and Mark Gunning
"Thank you for all the help you gave us, before and during the service, in putting together such a wonderful celebration of Mary's life. We deeply appreciated the time you spent with us in learning about Mary's life and getting to know her as a person. We felt that the sensitivity you showed in doing this came through in the warm, thoughtful way that you led the service, which made it possible for all the tributes to Mary, as well as her own voice, writing, speaking and singing, to be heard. We and the other family members and friends who were there felt that it was just the positive send-off that Mary herself would have wanted."
"Thank you so much for the service today, it was a wonderful and fitting tribute to my remarkable sister and her even more remarkable life. I too will be having the same sort of service after the experience today. I was delighted with the things you spoke about. Once again thank you. I found great peace and comfort in it, as did my daughter and everyone I spoke to afterwards."
"Thank you seems rather inadequate for the very beautiful service you conducted for my darling Iain. Your genuine warmth and empathy shone through and it was clear to all that you had spent some time getting to know the man we all loved so very much. You helped so much in sending him on his final journey with your loving and uplifting words and you steered a difficult path in order to please everyone and for that I am most grateful. If I could I would sing your praises from here to Land's End."
"Thank you again for giving such a wonderful service, we really can't thank you enough for all the effort you put in and the beautiful speech you gave about our Dad. You made it so special and beautiful when I was dreading it."
"Thank you so much for your help and support during this difficult time. We are honoured that you were able to do the ceremony for our Dad - it was such a lovely, touching ceremony and it was great to hear the stories about him."
Sarah Denness and Sharon Denness
"Thank you for the lovely service and for taking so much time to learn about our Mom when we met with you. Everyone commented on how touching and personal the service was. Thanks for helping us make it a special tribute to our special, much-loved Mom."
Pam O'Flattery & Family
"My Mum, Paul and I would like to give you our sincerest thanks for all the help, support and exceptional personal service you gave us with the service for Dad. In particular we wanted to thank you for your wonderful tribute, which perfectly captured Dad's spirit. Dad could not have had a better send off yesterday. You are truly a gifted and special person and we would have no hesitation in highly recommending you to anyone else considering a Humanist service."
Jan, Paul, Jill Williams & Family
"We felt compelled to write to you to thank you so much for the wonderful way in which you conducted our Mum's funeral... You composed the remembrance narrative perfectly... It was a real pleasure to meet you and both of us feel you are truly gifted."
Gill & Trish Root
"Thank you for all you did for us yesterday and in the period leading up to it. I thought the way you conducted the ceremony was outstanding. You managed to combine the formality of the occasion with the sense of fun we wanted as we celebrated her life and remembered Mum as she used to be before the dementia struck her. It was a very difficult balance to achieve and you pulled it off brilliantly. You are obviously a very thoughtful and caring person; thanks once again for all you did for us."
"Thank you for making my Granny's service a really lovely one, for making my family feel so at ease and for making things much easier for my parents. You did a really beautiful job."
"It was a wonderful funeral, for which I will be eternally grateful to you. The style of rhetoric, humour and compassion was exactly right. Absolutely everyone said that they hadn't been to such a beautiful funeral before. I can't thank you enough. The memory of the day will be with me forever."
"If other families you deal with gain only half the comfort you gave me and my family then they will be in a good space. Thanks again for your wonderful contribution to my mum's celebration."
Sandy Defraine and Richard Defraine
"We wanted to say thank you for your compassion and caring at the time of our loss, and for the huge effort you put into making the service so special for us. Although a sad time we really did feel that it celebrated John and his life and that the service was full of warmth and love. Thank you so much for this."
Paul Fowler & Family
"I just wanted to say thank you so much for Friday. Everyone I spoke to afterwards commented on how beautiful the service was. I think that you managed to create a celebratory feel and do Jimmy justice. In a strange way I actually enjoyed it as I felt that it was so well done and I could sit back, relax and soak it up. Once again thank you, it was so perfect."
"All of us will cherish the words you wrote and the way you conducted the ceremony forever."
"Thank you for doing such a wonderful job and for your patience and understanding. The service struck exactly the right tone and you made it really special. We appreciated the huge amount of effort you put in to making it run without a hitch. It was fantastic the way you linked all the talks... Michael would have been really pleased. Thank you once again for the sympathetic and thoughtful way in which you made the event so memorable."
Michele, Isabel & Kitty Marsh
"Yesterday's service was pitch-perfect, and such a wonderful tribute to Charlotte. It literally couldn't have been better. I can't thank you enough, and will be forever grateful."
"Thank you so much for all your help in leading me through Ken's funeral at Mortlake last Monday. I was really happy that it was a fitting tribute to my longtime friend. You were so understanding and calm in your approach and many friends commented on how they enjoyed the ceremony."
"I just wanted to say thanks for Tuesday. Everyone has commented on your warmth and ability to put us at ease and on what a lovely service it was, one that they're sure my mum would have been proud of, and I agree, it was just right."
"I just wanted to say thanks again for the service last week and all your hard work. You got it spot on and I thought it was really beautiful, just right for my mum."
"My family and I would like to thank you for conducting the service for Paul so beautifully. So many people have told us how fitting they felt it was that we have lost count! Thank you again for all your hard work and kindness."
Jan Long & Family
"Thank you very much for yesterday. So many people commented about how much they enjoyed the service and thought your input was excellent. It was just the way we wanted it to be so thanks again for making it a fitting send off."
“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the way you conducted my mum Jean’s funeral. It was the saddest of days for us all, but your words and poems helped us make it a celebration of our wonderful mother's life. It was the best possible send off for our mum that we could have wished for. So many people commented on how nice it was and how our mum would have loved it. You have a natural ability to make things better and I wish you well for the future.”
"Thank you so much for making a very special service for us. You did a fantastic job and many people have complimented you. It was very personal and a real evocation of my father's life. A thousand thanks from me and my family."
"Thank you for conducting a splendid celebration to Cyril today. It was exactly what was required and, in the cricket club afterwards, many of his friends and family commented favourably on this worthy celebration. With best wishes and renewed thanks."
"May we thank you again so much for everything you did for us all at Bill's 'Celebration of a Life', particularly Alan, Avril & Gaye. I know that they all thought it was a perfect way to remember their father. You had captured the man so well, using all the things that all three of them had been able to remember from their lives as Bill's children. Thank you once again for everything."
"I really wanted to thank you again for what a wonderful job you did for Ben's service. You just made it so special, so moving and most importantly so very right for Ben. You were also a huge support to Chris... as one of Chris's closest friends, I can't thank you enough for what you did for him. I would very much like to recommend you to anybody else because I think you have a real gift."
"In the days before my husband died, he clearly expressed a wish to have a humanist celebrant. It was clear to me that we should find somebody who would come and meet him, me and the rest of the family. I didn’t want the funeral to be anonymous. We were in such a special, intense bubble in those final weeks, and I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to understand my husband and his death without having experienced it first hand. Also, simply, he was a wonderful person and I needed to know that the person standing up at his funeral talking about him truly understood that. I deputised a good friend to find a celebrant willing to come up and meet us all. She found you and I’m immensely grateful for that. You understood the special nature of the time we were living through. You seemed grateful to be there, which might sound strange given it was the day before he died, but it was a privilege to be part of that intimacy. My ability to make decisions totally left me… I was able to leave much of the planning of the funeral to you. You guided me through many difficult decisions, gently encouraging me and making suggestions which then gave me something to agree with or react against, but were never prescriptive. I feel very strongly that the funeral is for the person who has died, but it is also for those left behind. You have the right to get what you need from the day. You allowed me to understand that it is right for the day to be a celebration, a wonderfully joyous occasion as well as unutterably sad. That mixture is hard to get right and I am grateful to you for achieving that. My family and many of our friends have strong faith and all commented on the inclusive nature of the ceremony. Nobody felt alienated. All felt their beliefs were respected... I would recommend you to anyone going through this extraordinary moment in their lives. For me you were a safe pair of hands when I most needed them. I can think of no higher praise."
"All of us who were there at our friend's service found it was just right. I am more accustomed to church funerals, but this worked very well. It felt personal, informal but at the same time dignified: you struck just the right note and importantly, you had worked with Chris gently, over days, building his confidence and finding out his wishes. It was also wonderful that you made time to meet our friend and his close family before he died: that gave confidence too. It was an extraordinarily sad, early death for all family and friends to face; but the funeral couldn't have been done better."
Colin and I wanted to thank you so much for your moving service at Pam’s
funeral. Everyone said it was just
perfect and exactly right for Pam. Your kindness and thoughtfulness was very much appreciated and we would
recommend you without hesitation. Once again many, many thanks for everything.”
Jackie & Colin Pike
you for the lovely service you did for my brother - it was perfect. I have been to funerals before when the
ministers have been very nice and kind, but they talk about a total stranger. Your speech was so correct and it
was my brother to a T, so thank you again."
"Sincere thanks for the way you conducted the ceremony today for Florence. People were very appreciative of the sentiments you expressed, and felt that you represented Flo's character very well, and made for a moving 'farewell'. I am sure I speak for all her family in sending you our sincere thanks."
Alex & Yvonne Woollard
"Thank you again for the 8th... all thought it went very well... mum would have been very pleased and relaxed with the ceremony and your choice of reflections from parts of her life. Wishing you well for the future and I'm sure you will bring a positive and personal touch to many ceremonies to come."
"Thanks for your excellent service at
our Dad's funeral. So many people mentioned how nice it was, including
a lot of Indian people from my wife's family."
"I'd like to take this opportunity of saying thank you for a lovely service and everybody who we spoke to after the service remarked how fitting this was for our mother. It was a good day on Friday and the combination of a good send off and good weather led to good memories and thoughts."