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My Celebrant Journey

Inspired by Caryn Franklin on the BBC’s Clothes Show, at the age of 16 I wanted to be a fashion journalist. ‘No such thing’ said the editor of the South Wales Echo and he was right; I would be ‘writing obituaries for 4 years’ if I was lucky and that didn’t interest me then.

So, I took his advice and trained in the art of fashion instead. Indulging my love of creating unique outfits for myself and friends, and this became my career for the next 18 years. Fast forward to the new millennium and a move from London to the Midlands, with a husband and child in tow and I needed a change to accommodate motherhood. A brief stint as a receptionist in a fitness gym led me rather obliquely to teaching dressmaking evening classes.

I spent another 18 years teaching my fashion specialisms in FE and HE. Creating an enriched environment was always key to learning for me and I enjoyed showing students the wider world of art and fashion on trips to museums and art galleries in the UK and Europe. I promoted the courses at exhibitions and came full circle, as part of the Clothes Show Live event at the NEC, where I eventually met with my fashion inspiration. My presentation skills expanded with lectures to students and staff. A team of like-minded colleagues helped me to create a programme that led on sustainability and the future of fashion, creating a student led conference and weeklong events during Fashion Revolution Week. We used our SEDA training to embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals into our curriculum.

I was proud to be part of such a forward-thinking community.

However, I wasn’t looking forward to another term, so again I knew I needed a change. Two careers, both spanning 18 years, both focused on fashion and then a little voice in my head that kept saying ‘become a celebrant’…

Why on earth ‘become a celebrant’ – it’s a question many have asked me and when I explain, the response was always the same ‘You will be so good at that!’

So why indeed? I had always been non-religious. My wedding had been in a hotel on a Sunday (one of the first ever held in Wales) and overseen by a wedding official. In the 1990’s a registrar and council appointed official were my only option. They were both lovely. As time went on, weddings were replaced by funerals, and this is where I first encountered celebrants. 5 years ago, a friend lost her husband, and the celebrant was fantastic at the service, and in the empathy and care given to get to that point. What a wonderful thing to be able to do for someone at such a difficult time. I then watched a programme about the growing profession, and saw the variety of need, especially with same sex couples. Many of my friends were part of the LGBTQ community and their weddings were always so personal. Again, what a wonderful job to have – to bring so much joy or comfort.

I thought about my own transferable skills and started to investigate the many courses available, doing questionnaires to find out if I had the skills to pay the bills! Going back to freelance work during a cost-of-living crisis could be the worst decision ever. I chatted to celebrants in my area and started to build an idea of what sort of income I could expect, but how could I even start retraining to do something so different when my work was all consuming?

A golden opportunity gave me the financial ability, and family support meant that I could finally leave education and focus on training to become a celebrant – not to become celibate as many initially thought!

Three months into my new career and I have already met some fabulous people that I hope to support professionally in the future. Old colleagues may become new clients or even part of my future business, so I won’t be leaving my old careers behind just yet…not while funeral directors need their suits adjusting at any rate!


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