‘Many have their own ideas today’

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DEALING with her own father’s death led to a new way of life for Derren Gallo. She was so inspired by the unusual funeral service reflecting his true personality that she became a civil celebrant herself.

She trained immediately and since November has been offering the bereaved the same chance to experience the ceremony that means the most, whatever their beliefs.

Derren, of Buxton Drive, was previously a compliance officer but her path took this different turn when she was organising the funeral arrangements for her dad last May.

“He was not religious at all - no beliefs whatsoever - and definitely would not have wanted a religious service. But you have to do something because of family left behind who need to acknowledge the death and come to terms with it. So I found a funeral officiant and she spent time with me asking all about him and what he had done in life, the type of life that he gave us, and the service then was so personal that people came away asking - did she know him? It was that good, people thought she knew everything about him, and it made it more personal. I loved it so much. And I thought - that is what I want to do.”

Her work now is to provide clients with the celebration they want and need at the time when they are least able to do it themselves. She takes time to talk and find out personal details which make all the difference. As a civil celebrant she is able to help create whatever service is required, religious or non-religious, and plan the event around individual preference.

She said: “A good funeral can be a celebration of life, and an occasion to draw in strength and support when it’s most needed. People coping with bereavement are not always fully aware of many of the funeral choices available. Often they gratefully accept whatver suggestions are made and do not realise they could have done it differently until afterwards.It’s something her own husband discovered trying to organise a family funeral. He told the vicar his dad loved cricket, and so he wanted the Test Match Special theme with his father’s comments edited over the top, but was told - you can’t do that.

Derren, a member of the Fellowshsip of Professional Celebrants, commented: “The ceremony can include whatever religious, spiritual or humanist content you choose; it may include different stages, with time just for close friends and family, as well as time for gathering the wider circle of people who want to say goodbye.” Contact Derren on 01424 733052/07835 656970.