Our Tutors

Our tutors have a wealth of experience and expertise to share with you.  Including full time practicing celebrants and leading academics, two things they have in common are a passion for the quality of training and a passion for helping Celebrants to be the best that they can be.

They will challenge you and inspire you like never before and furnish you with the skills to create and deliver outstanding and memorable ceremonies.

Anne Barber

Anne is Managing Director of Civil Ceremonies Ltd and founder and Honorary President of the Institute of Civil Funerals. Anne created and established Civil Funerals in the UK in 2002 and founded the Institute of Civil Funerals in 2004. Her previous career included the role of New Project Director at Lifecycle Marketing Ltd and Distribution Director with Bounty Services (UK) Ltd. She has been involved in establishing many services with Local Authorities and Registration Districts across the UK, in particular Naming Ceremonies, Renewal of Marriage Vows Ceremonies and Commitment Ceremonies as well as Civil Funerals. Anne wrote and published 'The Complete Guide to Naming Ceremonies' in 2008. She has established the website www.celebrantsupplies.co.uk, (providing wholesale resources for celebrants and registrars) and also www.funeralmap.co.uk, (an online resource for those arranging a funeral) . In 2014 she set up the Child Funeral Charity with industry colleagues, (of which she is a trustee). Her qualifications include a BA (Hons) Degree in Business Studies and an MBA.

Jill Maguire

Jill has ten years' experience as a Civil Funeral Celebrant in the Surrey area and was a Founder Member of the Institute of Civil Funerals.  She spends much time supporting new local celebrants. Jill's career has included adult tutoring with Surrey County Council and a lengthy career in Surrey County Council's registration service, where she fulfilled a variety of different roles including deputy registrar and registrar of births and deaths. Jill has worked with Civil Ceremonies Ltd for many years training celebrants and previously registrars in technical registration procedures.  She has conducted hundreds of funerals, marriages and the ceremonies and of course delegates always benefit hugely from her experience.

Tony Walter

Professor Tony Walter (BA Durham, PhD Aberdeen) is Reader in Sociology, and Centre Director of the Centre for Death and Society at Bath University, where he directed the MA in Death & Society. Tony is a leading sociologist in all matters relating to death in the UK and is inspirational in his tutoring on Civil Funeral courses. He helped found the National Funerals College, and has lectured in the UK, Ireland, USA, Japan and Italy on funerals and funeral reform. Among his 14 books are 'Funerals - and how to reform them' (Hodder 1990), 'The Revival of Death' (Routledge 1994), 'On Bereavement - the culture of grief' (Open University Press 1999), and 'The Mourning for Diana' (Berg 1999).

John Valentine

John has an MSc in social sciences and has published three books. He works in London as a funeral celebrant, and since 1995 has conducted almost 2000 funerals. He has been a tutor on the Civil Funerals training course since 2003, and is involved with developing and presenting further ceremonies training. As a practitioner, John is dedicated to creating the most meaningful and effective funeral for each individual client. As a course tutor, he is pleased to be able to pass on some of his skills and experience, and to play a part in ensuring that new Civil Funeral celebrants can write and deliver ceremonies to the same high standards as their more experienced colleagues.

Steve Blakeley 

Steve initially studied English and trained in speech and Drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and at the Athanor Theater Akademie in Germany.  He has since worked as an actor, director and writer across a broad range of genres in theatre, television and radio.  He has also maintained a keen interest in academic study and has studied with the Open University and is a qualified teacher and lecturer.  He regularly teaches speech, drama and presentation skills in both academic and corporate settings.  Steve is also a qualified Funeral Celebrant and member of the Institute of Civil Funerals and is much in demand to officiate at funeral ceremonies in his native Derbyshire. BA (RSAMD), Cert.Hum, CTLLS, Dip.CFC, MICF

Janice Thomson

Janice completed 16 years’ service in the Registration Service of England and Wales as Superintendent Registrar of the London Borough of Barnet and previously in Mid-Bedfordshire. Prior to this she worked as a teacher of English in Grammar Schools and Colleges of Further Education. She has been involved with Civil Funerals since 2002 when the first training course was launched and has conducted many varied funerals in London Crematoria. She joined the Institute of Civil Funerals in 2004 at its inception and since retiring in 2009 has acted as its Secretary and Script Assessor. Janice was also involved in the planning and accreditation stages of the NOCN Diploma Course as the industry expert. Janice is also one of the course assessors for the distance learning element of the training. M.A

Nicki Hallett

For many years Nicola worked as a Palliative Care Nurse Specialist and came to recognise that the farewell after a death should be as important and memorable as the circumstances and care leading up to death. She led a successful, award winning, training programme for healthcare professionals to develop their knowledge and skills in end of life care. She trained to become a Civil Funeral Celebrant with Civil Ceremonies Ltd and now creates and delivers bespoke, individual and sensitive ceremonies that meet the wishes of her clients. Nicola is passionate about improving the public’s perception and expectations of funerals, and making the dialogue surrounding death a normal part of the conversation of life. Nicola is a member of the Institute of Civil Funerals.

Melanie MacHugh

Melanie has been working as a professional actress for 16 years. She trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has worked in many theatres in Great Britain and Ireland including the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the National Theatre in London and spent a very successful season with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon and the West End. She has performed in both classical and modern plays, most recently in London and touring Scotland in Conor McPherson's Tony-award winning play, Shining City. Her interest in voice work and public speaking is inspired by the great teachers Patsy Rodenburg at the National and Cicely Berry at the RSC, who is probably the most famous voice teacher in the world. Melanie is also a winner of the prestigious Yeats Competition in Sligo, Ireland and uses poetry in workshops as a way of demonstrating the possibilities of vocal expression.