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Training Feedback from
Funeral Celebrants

I thought that the whole course was excellent. A very comprehensive and informative course which provides everything you need to get started. The arrangements and info prior to the course was excellent right down to the COVID-19 provisions. Really enjoyed it all. Thank you! Stella Munro  – July 2020.

Thank you so much for an engrossing and rewarding week at Highgate House in September. It was an immensely valuable learning experience and great to meet the other funeral celebrancy students. I suppose you could sum up the course as ‘Thoroughly amazing and amazingly thorough’! Pippa Burne – Sept 2020.

So just over a year has passed since I left the grounds of Highgate House on my journey to be a celebrant, and I just wanted to share a little of what has been going on and just let you know the training was not all in vain!

Not a week after I passed I was extremely fortunate in that one small family run independent funeral director gave me my first service within 24 hours of me dropping my business card into them. Only one out of the many I visited. It was very much a sink or swim service, it was for a man even younger than myself who had died of an accidental overdose, whose 9 year old daughter was also in attendance. Needless to say it was a challenge and not quite the ‘easier’ standard elderly natural death I was expecting to be given as a new celebrant to the scene. However the same FD has continued to put me through my paces with various cases and families that have been a real challenge to work with, the constant infighting and squabbles have been a real eye opener. I have so far done services from gypsies, to rich CEO’s of national companies to the poorest and less affluent in society. I’ve even had a police presence with a convicted murderer in chains sat in the front. I’ve been to mansions, council estates and now having to do everything over the phone and not meeting the family until the day because of this dreaded virus, has been a hard but very rewarding challenge.

A few months back an opportunity came up to assist the shorthanded FD on a collection, we have all grown quite close as a unit and work very well together and through hard work they have grown to trust me immensely. I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the industry and, as fate would have it, I am now working for them full time as well as acting as an in house celebrant when needed. I collect the deceased, dress them, put them to bed etc and then I then have the honour of either carrying them as a bearer or conducting the service myself.

So much has happened it’s been a real rollercoaster of a year and I just wanted to give you a brief rundown otherwise I could ramble on! But the main purpose of the email being to once again thank you and your team for getting me through the meltdowns and crises in confidence I suffered on the course. Who knows where I would be now had it not been for all your support.  Thank you. David Winchester (trained in Apr 19 – received June 2020)

I took my first funeral yesterday……., what I wanted to say to you is how much the whole thing felt like just another exercise from the course – doing each thing in turn exactly as practiced – which is a tribute to your course. I am exceedingly glad I chose to enter the celebrancy business properly through your course– and I am exceedingly glad to have got one under my belt, and all the “first time” anxieties out of the way, so soon! …The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the course did indeed deliver everything I needed to deliver an actual funeral (including equipping me with the right response to the last-minute panic of non-operating curtain). You can’t say better than that.  John Swanson – February 2020.

Thank you for such excellent training – the call from the FD for my first funeral came in on Monday mid-morning, I was with the family 85 Kms away by 18.30 that night, first draft of the Script sent to client by 14.00 Tuesday, approval that night and Orders of Service prepared and printed on Wednesday! Just like being on a Civil Ceremonies Ltd. training course!! Seriously though, I very much appreciated the depth of your training so that I could meet the crematorium staff with confidence, music cues and running script in hand, to work hand in hand with them on the day and cope with a live singer, a childhood friend of the daughters of the deceased, who found herself unable to complete her song due to emotion. You did warn us of the perils of live music, and it came to pass. We finished on time and I received thanks from the Crematorium Attendant, a nod from the FDs representative and deeply appreciative comments from the family. It really brings it home to you when you can feel the raw emotion of relief from the family that they achieved the ceremony they desired. Thank you. I know I am not yet the finished article but you have set me on a course to a fulfilling and ever enlightening career. With very best wishes to you and all the team . Alan Mackay – December 2019 (based in France).

This course has been a roller – coaster even, with relentless input of new information! I have really appreciated the strict time keeping and very clear agenda for each day. Thank you so much for such an excellent course…I‘ve loved it! Caroline Adams – December 2019.

I cannot see how the course could be improved, I am so glad I chose Civil Ceremonies. Brilliant coursework, amazing tutors and super venue. Thank you. Dee Paoletti – September 2019.

I gave my first funeral service on Friday, it went really well (I think) and I just want to thank everyone at Civil Ceremonies for all your help and support in getting me to this point!

I only had a week from being asked to give the service until the day it was happening as the FD was let down (or some complication) by the original celebrant they had hoped to use. So it was all very last minute with changes going on literally the evening before. But I thought back so many times to the absolutely brilliant training the tutors gave us, and the amazing amount of support from you and from your office – and it all worked! I had my course manuals and notes permanently on my dining table for the week, I used the tape recorder on my iphone to listen to what I was saying and how it came across, not to mention pre-timing every bit of the service – and it all worked!
Thank you again, I really appreciate the amazing training and care you have all shown. Jo Adam – February 2019.

Brilliant course! Absolutely necessary to do funeral celebrancy. Can’t imagine doing this work without doing this training. Extremely well organised! It was like a well oiled machine, every part planned perfectly. Excellent quality teaching. I learned so much. Intense but well worth the hard work. I wish you were running the country! Alice Cullingworth – February 2019.

What a fantastic week. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute, though some were slightly more nerve-wracking than others! So many tips, so much help. How hard you must work to collate all the information and put it together in a coherent, seamless week. I cannot imagine attempting to deliver a funeral ceremony without this wealth of knowledge behind me. It is slowly starting to sink in. Usually when I drive anywhere I listen to the radio, but on Friday I drove the two and half hours in complete silence – just thinking. The venue was fantastic, so friendly and welcoming. Today (Sunday) I am going to quietly go through all my notes and the mass of information you gave us so I can find what I’m looking for. I am excited to get going and I am ready for the challenges ahead. With many many thanks. Alison Griffin – February–March 2019.

Having completed the course last week I used all we had been taught in putting the ceremonies together and have had amazing feedback! Two funeral directors have made me their favoured celebrant, the regular crem chapel attendant has asked for a pile of my cards to give to who ever asks him for advice on who to take their service – he says he is asked a lot. To top it all, the family today were so delighted they have passed on an extra payment for me to the funeral director as they reckon my fee isn’t high enough … unbelievable. So thank you for transforming the way I do funerals! Nigel Evans – July 2018 (was already practicing as a celebrant).

I just wanted to drop you an email to let you know that I conducted my first funeral last Friday. The family were lovely and the funeral was very well received by those who attended (over 150 according to crematorium staff). I’ve since met the family again earlier this week and took the opportunity to let them know, after the event, that it had been my first funeral – they were gobsmacked! It took me almost half an hour to convince them that I was telling the truth.
Apparently, I conducted myself in such a professional and confident manner they thought I’d been conducting funerals for years. To say I was a “wee bit proud” of myself would be an understatement! Thank you for all your help and feedback during my training. My being “professional and confident” is owed in no small part to the training I received in May – I took so much from it. Susan Maitland – May 2018.

I just wanted to say “thank you” for the excellent training I received from Civil Ceremonies. I performed my first funeral today, a real test since it was someone I knew. I was the trainee who said I would never do a funeral for a friend but it was a testament to the confidence your organisation instilled that I got through it with composure, (not to say relief!). Family very pleased and the funeral director has indicated he will use me again. He was very complimentary. Jacqueline Barr – March 2018.

I just wanted to let you know that I conducted my first ceremony today. There were over 150 people there for a thirty-minute slot. Anyway, the feedback was so good that I received a phone call a couple of hours later offering me another funeral on the 11th April! Thank you so much for such a thorough training. I was very nervous today but kept telling myself, ‘trust your training’. Debra Homer – March 2018.

On a personal note, last week was incredibly special for me. I learned so much from you and your wonderful team, and I enjoyed every minute – it was the right balance of information provision, continual support and constant challenge, pushing us to practice what had been taught – so a huge and very sincere ‘thank you’ to you, Jill, John and the rest of your amazing team. Your passion for, and belief in, what you do shines through the entire course – from the materials you provide, to the trainers you engage, to the guest speakers who came to talk to us, to the administration team in the office; every one of them shares your commitment and passion for what you do. This job really is a ‘profession’, and I hope that in the weeks and months to come, I can provide a high quality, personal, unique ceremony for every future client who engages my services. – Clair O’Reilly – February 2018 (Ireland).

The course is thorough which is necessary, the tutors are fantastic. The course is so thorough it is the best preparation I could imagine for entry into such a challenging role. Crafted and delivered with such care and attention. I conducted my first ceremony yesterday; it went very well and I was very very grateful for my incredibly thorough Civil Ceremonies training! Thank you once again for taking such care in crafting the course – I don’t think I could have felt more prepared. Thank you!! Libby Curley – October 2018.

The course was enjoyable, well presented and very professional. I enjoyed all the guest presenters who provided a good insight into the funeral industry. The content of the course has equipped me well to work as a funeral celebrant and was full and comprehensive in content. Presenting at the crematorium was a pivotal part of the training, well planned and executed. The training team were true professionals and made the course interesting and inspiring. There was pressure to complete tasks in a limited time, but it proved effective, yes we can do it. This was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I will never forget the brilliant, inspiring training, or the trainers. Quite simply I cannot thank you enough. Nikki Ayling – Oct 2017.

I have now conducted my first funeral, in fact I was lucky to do so less than one week after completing the course. I spent hours at the keyboard typing out facts, constructing someone’s life story and then the big day rolled round and I stood before a crowd of around 35 people and told the story. And it felt that this is what I am truly meant to do, it was hard work, but so incredibly rewarding. I felt so incredibly humble as I stood at the front of the chapel, telling a story about the man in the coffin. Half of the congregation were stars of the story. I knew no-one. Afterwards I even got a lovely email from the family. I really didn’t expect that, even the funeral director had said, they might not be the type of family who give any feedback, but equally so, if they weren’t happy, we would soon know about it! So thank you so very much again, for being so very kind, friendly and patient. Lorraine Inglis – March 2017.

It really was one of the best courses I have ever been on (and I’ve been on, written and taught quite a few). Please thank everyone again for a really well put-together and challenging week’. Tamara Bibby – March 2017.

Just a quick line to say I can’t believe it just coming up to one year since the course. It’s been an incredible year, full of challenges and a sense of achievement in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I’ve certainly had some frights and delights along the way.

Though I was totally exhausted after the course (and took a week to recover) I hit the ground running. It wasn’t until I was doing the job that it became clear how thoroughly the course had prepared me. I have already done well over one hundred services though I have to admit it has been hard work at times to get the funeral directors to try me out. Happily I am starting to get a few who think of me now as a first call. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories and the challenge of accurately reflecting a life in a way that is suited to the individual family. The creative side of a service is so very rewarding.

I would like to thank you for all the support and advice you have given me over the past twelve months and enabling me to do a job that has made me feel properly useful in the world. I look forward to joining you on a further course later this year. Louise Goode – March 2016.

Thank you very much for a wonderful course last week. I found you and all the tutors truly inspirational and am very keen to put everything you taught us into practice. Your kind encouragement and wonderful motivation gives me confidence, and I am preparing to hit the ground running. Thank you once again for a splendid course and for opening up such exciting possibilities. Oliver Tims – March 2017.

Distance Learning Feedback

I found the first part of the training to be most enjoyable, stimulating and thought provoking. It was fun, (if that is the right word) and I couldn’t wait to get to the next section. The material was very well presented, clear and concise and laid out in logical form which made working through it enjoyable. Right from the outset rigour in process and applying standards was most apparent adding to a feeling of worth and satisfaction. You people seem to be exceptional and, rather uncommonly, the right hand knows what the left hand is doing!!

I have been impressed throughout by the combination of friendly and professional assistance given.

I have undertaken many training programmes over the years and mostly what lets them down is poor administration and poor communication. Civil Ceremonies appears to have got both sorted – I have nothing but praise for both elements. When I have had questions, Hazel has been able to help me and has even gone out of her way to provide me with helpful additional information, for which I am extremely grateful. The distance learning was very good, and written in a way that underpins the guidance to write clearly, concisely and simply.

Comments received on the Distance Learning element of the training

Excellent information given on every aspect of the residential course.

It was an excellent resource to work from. All the information was very clearly presented.

So far I have been delighted with every aspect of this course.

Always friendly, understanding, helpful and willing to go the extra mile. Also very positive and encouraging.

I have been impressed throughout by the combination of friendly and professional assistance given.

Course feedback from established celebrants

We love to hear from funeral celebrants that we have trained as they grow and develop their business. These are some comments we have had from Celebrants who ‘got going’ recently.

Can I just say how valuable the course has been to get me started as a Funeral Celebrant. It does not matter how long you have been in the business, this still helped me considerably in advice and also tools of the trade. Therefore many thanks for all the hard work from all the instructors.

I just wanted to thank you – not only for the course last year, but also for the continued support and assistance along the way. Things are going well – and I have averaged 4 to 5 funerals per month so far – and have 3 now booked for January. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you.

I completed the Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy in February 2014 and on Monday 5th January I lead my 50th ceremony. I just thought I’d drop you a line to say what amazing preparation the training has proved to be. At no time did I feel out of my depth (and I’ve had a very wide range of situations to deal with!). Thank you again.

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        IT Skills you will need both during your training and working as a celebrant

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        1. Ability in creating, naming, using, saving and retrieving files and folders.
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