‘Focused On Funerals’

The National UK Funeral Celebrancy Conference for Continuing Professional Development

10 & 11 October 2020

Hellidon Lakes Resort and Spa, Daventry


Inclusivity & Diversity

Improving personalised services

A weekend of workshops, talks and discussions about working with LGBTQIA+ people, addictions, mental health challenges, learning disability, survivors of suicide, family discord, and much more. Discovering how skilled interview techniques and details in ceremony writing can make all the difference.

“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength” – Maya Angelou

Plus great networking, support, resources and some relaxation at a fabulous 4 star hotel and spa near to Rugby / Banbury in the Heart of England.

“Well worth the 2 days”, “Fantastic. I feel inspired”

5 stars

100% of last year’s feedback said celebrants recommend Ceremony Matters workshops to their colleagues!

This 2 day conference intensive remains priced as the 2019 conference – early bird £297 

14 hours of CPD available

Join us!


“Thank you Emma Curtis for your wonderful and inspiring creative writing session at the Conference. It encouraged me to try a new opening today, slightly out of my comfort/safe zone and ‘stretch myself’. At the funeral today it worked so well… The widow said that service was ‘brilliant’ and it was as if her husband was actually there.”

Bev Symonds

Fellowship of Professional Celebrants, Beverley Symonds, Independent Funeral Celebrant

“Fantasic conference. Thank you”

Following our 5-star success at Ceremony Matters’ first National UK Funeral Celebrancy Conference for Continuing Professional Development, this year’s 2020 ‘Focused On Funerals’ will be two full days of training and development devoted to Inclusivity and Diversity for specialist funeral celebrants. Ceremony Matters is dedicated to providing advanced training and the best opportunities for you and your business. We welcome funeral celebrants from any association, fellowship, belief system or training organisation for two days of workshops, networking and talks that will leave you inspired and ready to take your business to the next level.

“Can’t rate the day high enough”

Ceremony Matters conferences are open to all celebrants who are dedicated to raising the bar and offering the best service possible to their clients and families. An additional aspect to the weekend will be focusing on collegiality, good networking and sharing resources and support, benefiting each of us individually, and the profession as a whole.

The conference is being held at the Hellidon Lakes Resort and Spa in Daventry, on the 10th and 11th October 2020. A weekend of ‘funerals only’, recognising the importance of continual learning and development in refining and developing our roles as funeral celebrants; giving us opportunities for meeting and learning from a wide range of other celebrants with diverse experience and specialist experts; all in an excellent hotel where we can kick back and relax when the working day is done. Lunch on both days will be a hot and cold buffet with tea and coffee flowing all day, as and when you need it. 

We have an amazing early bird booking offer of 20% off both days of the conference – grab it while it lasts.

Creativity, learning, support and networking, together with great food, attentive hotel service,
open log fires and a soak in the hot tub, if that’s your thing!

There is rapid change in the public expectation of a funeral service, demanding more personalisation of ceremonies. With growing numbers of funeral celebrants, the need has never been greater for those with experience to get together to develop their celebrancy skills and creativity. There is an increased demand for truly person-centred services and we increasingly find ourselves creating ceremony for people with experiences very different from our own.

Offering high quality, meaningful and personalised funeral ceremonies is the best way of growing sustainable businesses. The focus of this conference will be on quality and ‘equality’ of service, with creative writing workshops, inspiring talks and discussions. We will also be sharing best practice so that we can continue to offer excellent service as our clients and families demand more highly personalised and individual ceremonies.

“You delivered the right amount of helpful information whilst still allowing it to be a discussion between us with plenty of time to take on board our thoughts too. Rather than it being lectures it was lovely that it included so much ‘audience participation’ in a very relaxed informative manner. So thank you once again for what I felt was a very enjoyable conference. Looking forward to the next one.”

Marion Lambshead

Independent Funeral Celebrant

This conference is not just going to be about marketing and making money. Of course we all want to be financially successful in our work, however, there are plenty of other such offerings and those skills alone wont help you sustain your business.

This conference is about providing the very best quality of service possible to our clients and ‘families’. That is the core of a successful celebrancy business. The growth and sustainability of our businesses depend upon our skills, our relationships and the quality of personalisation that we offer.

We can make new contacts and let people get to know us through our media presence, but in the end it is the service that we provide that is meaningful and memorable. This helps us maintain our business as successful and in demand funeral celebrants.

Ceremony Matters ‘Focused On Funerals’ is a conference for those who are truly committed to providing the best service to the bereaved, who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves and grow their business reputation as excellent celebrants offering services that really help people get through the days, weeks. months and years after a death.

I very much hope that you will join me and an inspiring group of colleagues who see this weekend as an invaluable investment in their skills, their personal growth and their business development when we get together for our National UK Funeral Celebrancy  Conference – it’s going to be awesome!

See you in October.


Emma Curtis, CEO Ceremony Matters, including Celebrant Support

“Emma has helped me so much with my work as a celebrant. I didn’t feel that my training adequately prepared me for working as a celebrant so Emma mentored me. I felt supported, encouraged and guided and developed my own style of ceremonies. Highly recommended service for funeral celebrants, no matter how experienced.”

Louise Winter

Celebrant and Funeral Director, Poetic Endings

‘Focused On Funerals’ National UK Funeral Celebrancy Conference

Hellidion Lakes Resort and Spa

Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October 2020

Two day Continuing Professional Development Conference focused on Inclusivity & Diversity
with Emma Curtis, plus guest speakers – Specialist Diversity Celebrants: Angie McLachlan, Nick Laurie and David Miles and Funeral Professional Ash Hayhurst.

This is a two day conference, rather than two single days. Content from Day 1 will be carried through into Day 2 and we will continue working with the principals explored on Day 1. You are welcome to join us for one day only, if you need to, however, please note that, while there will be some review of material from Day 1 on Sunday as we go forward, we will not be revising the lessons of the previous day. 

Conference Saturday: 
Inclusivity & Diversity Day 1: Non-binary lives, LGBTQIA+ Experiences, Difficult Dynamics, Family Meetings and a very special ceremony.
10.00 till 5.30pm 

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
– Stephen R Covey

In the morning we will have talks from Emma, and from Angie McLachlan and Ash Hayhurst. Angie is an experienced celebrant who was also an embalmer through the AIDS crisis of the 1990s. Ash is a transgender man who is a funeral arranger for a prominent London independent funeral directors.

The talks and discussion sessions will cover not only issues relevant to LGBTQIA+ people, but to any situation were diversity causes disenfranchisement, estrangement or discord within families. We will learn and discuss what we, as celebrants, can do to make sure that the ceremony we prepare is relevant to all. The afternoon session will be an interactive workshop focused around interview style and how to get great information about a person who fits no boxes. We will close with a unique ceremony to demonstrate the importance of understanding non-binary life. 

Topics that we will discuss:

  • Appreciating that there are a multitude of ways in which people can feel disenfranchised or excluded
  • Understanding how we can use neutral language to be inclusive of everyone
  • Becoming aware of a non-binary perspective on life, and death
  • Looking back at what history has taught us about stigmatised communities
  • Being mindful of confidentiality while supporting LGBTQIA people
  • Exploring why it is important to respect someone’s confidentiality after they die
  • Learning how the Gender Recognition Act informs the way we work as funeral celebrants
  • Gain insight into how we can support trans and gender diverse people
  • Find out how to navigate delicate conversations
  • Opportunities to ask questions in a judgement-free space
  • Finding our confidence as professionals and managing the fear of “putting our foot in it”

Share your stories and your experience, and discover that we can be more resilient and confident when we support each other. Celebrancy is becoming more competitive, but supportive alliances can help us stay strong and doing our best work. 

After Saturday’s sessions embrace the opportunity to really relax and rest, before we all meet for in the evening for a scrumptious dinner. If you have chosen to stay at the hotel there’s a spa, a pool, steam room and jacuzzi, and even a bowling alley.

Give yourself at treat, look after you, and get what you need from your time with us. Advice and support will be available all day.


“I had the pleasure of chatting with Emma recently about a celebrant business idea I couldn’t get straight in my head. She helped me to break it down and enabled me to formulate a plan… Without Emma’s focussed reasoning, my idea would still be swimming around my head making little or no sense, even to me! Thank you Emma for your calm logic.”

Michelle Taylor

Funky Celebrant (Wedding and Family Celebrant), mtaylorcelebrant.co.uk

Conference Sunday:
Inclusivity & Diversity Day 2: Alcoholism and Addiction, Approaches to Disability, Mental Health Issues and working with Suicide Survivors, Creative Ceremony Writing in Difficult Circumstances.

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

– Jimmy Carter

On day 2 of our conference we bring the learning and discussions from day 1 into how we approach serving clients and families affected by other issues that have often been stigmatised in our culture: alcoholism and addiction, disability, mental heath issues, neurobiological differences and suicide.

Nick Laurie and David Miles, both funeral celebrants for many years, will be presenting their areas of expertise which have informed their celebrancy practices. Nick is a Somerset based celebrant, specialist in working with families affected by addiction. David, a winner of The Good Funeral Award for Celebrant of the Year, will talk about Approaches to Disability. There will be a panel to discuss working with families affected by disability and mental health issues, and how we approach ceremony writing in exceptional circumstances.

Emma Curtis has become well respected for her really popular creative writing workshops. In the afternoon she will lead a session in creative ceremony writing bringing together the many threads of the weekends program and focused on how we write to create ceremonies that are as helpful as possible in difficult circumstances. Be prepared to write, bring your laptop if you wish, dare to get off script and write something totally unique and person-centred. 

This is the best time to try something special with no ‘real’ client to answer to and a fantastic creative environment. There will be plenty of support for anyone who is abandoning their own script for the first time. No matter how you write your ceremonies now, you’ll be inspired to put your client/family right at the centre and create something especially beneficial and beautiful for them.

  • Learn from first hand experience of our expert presenters 
  • Consider how being more flexible to the needs of our clients can also benefit us as we work
  • Understand how we can be more aware of the diversity of mourners listening to our service
  • Discover a social approach to disability
  • Learn how to make everyone feel included and no one feel excluded by the ceremony we’ve prepared
  • Observe how we can find paths between simply good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure as we develop trust with our clients and families,
  • Learn about the unique difficulties facing a funeral celebrant in the preparation of a ceremony for someone who died by suicide
  • A chance to write and try out new ideas by presenting your work to a great crowd of colleagues if you wish

The atmosphere at last years conference was amazing and celebrants found it so useful and supportive. Join us this year to discover what it’s like to be part of a face-to-face community of celebrants who are all dedicated to a person-centred approach to creating funerals. It’s going to be a packed weekend and you’ll leave with new tools and ideas you are excited to try.

We are so excited to be able to offer you this weekend conference that we have an Amazing Early Bird Sale for early booking, offering a great 20% discount. 

A downloadable CPD certificate will be available after the conference.

“Overall it gave me confidence in what I am doing already which was needed. it also gave me inspiration and ideas for some new approaches. Plus the rare opportunity to talk with other celebrants – bringing us together for collaboration rather than competition.”

Becky Lee-Wale, Daisy Chain Celebrant at Focused On Funerals 2019



Conference Dinner – Saturday evening
7.30pm (book separately)

Just imagine:

  • A wonderful opportunity to network and get to know each other better
  • Really good food from the Hellidon Hotel’s excellent chefs
  • Dishes are created using only the freshest ingredients and where possible the finest local produce
  • A great evening of camaraderie and laughter
  • Bars open ’til late and open log fires, or an early night at Hellidon Lakes, or wherever you choose to stay.

To take a look at Hellidon Lakes food and wine, and read their reviews go here.



Here are your options for booking

Click to book, and don’t forget to book Saturday’s 3-course Dinner!

Early Bird sale, grab it while it’s here!

This is a two day conference, rather than two single days. PLEASE NOTE: content from Day 1 will be carried through into Day 2 and we will continue working with the principals explored on Day 1. You are welcome to join us for one day only, if you need to, however, please bear in mind that, while there will be some review of material from Day 1 on Sunday as we go forward, we will not be revising the lessons of the previous day. 

Accommodation: Bed and Breakfast Offer at Hellidon Lakes Resort and Spa £80 for Saturday night special conference rate, and £79 for Friday night. To book your room please call the Hellidon Lakes on 01327 262550 and give the code: CEREMONY MATTERS. Offer ends 9 August, so don’t forget to book.

Tutor and speaker profiles

Emma Curtis is an award-winning influencer in funeral celebrancy working to raise the standards of funeral celebrancy throughout the profession and working to gain recognition for the valuable work that celebrants do in the service of the bereaved. She is a founder representative on the Funeral Celebrancy Council, and now offers this National Conference to Celebrants who wish to offer services that really make a lasting difference to their clients, and that build their reputation as excellent celebrants.

Emma is also a certified Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist, Pastoral Counsellor, Grief and Resilience Specialist with a therapy practice on the corner of Harley Street and Cavendish Square, W1 and an award-winning Opera Singer, bringing that wealth of experience not only to her clients, but to supporting celebrants through mentoring, supervision and further training. Emma is the founder of Celebrant Support www.celebrantsupport.com and CeremonyMatters, further trainings for Funeral Celebrants.  You can find out more about Emma here

Angie McLachlan was catapulted suddenly into the funeral business. Having French Polished her mum’s coffin, she didn’t leave the undertakers; staying on, initially to run the coffin workshop. While working as transport manager and funeral operative she trained as an embalmer. In the early 90s Angie pioneered embalming treatment and care for those who had died from ‘AIDS Related Conditions’. This very personal choice was against professional and government guidelines in the U.K. Angie looked after many of her friends. She is an experienced celebrant, known for creating beautiful personalised ceremonies for people of diverse pathways.

Angie holds BA Hons Death Loss and Palliative Care; MA (Distinction) Religion, the Rhetoric and Rituals of Death; and teaches Care of the Body with Ichabod her hand-made Death Dummy.

Photo: The University of Winchester

Ash Hayhurst is a relatively new kid on the block and has been a part-time Funeral Arranger in London since April 2019. He is the author of ‘Making informed choices when planning a funeral – a guide for queer people’, and has written articles for the Funeral Service Journal and the ICCM journal. Before joining the funeral profession, Ash volunteered with LGBT+ charities Stonewall Housing (www.stonewallhousing.org) and Educate & Celebrate (www.educateandcelebrate.org) helping to develop workshops and resources for young people. He has a degree in Popular Music Composition and is a qualified secondary school music teacher. Ash is a bisexual transgender man, and his pronouns are he/him.

Photo: Fox Fisher

Nick Laurie is an independent celebrant. He has worked and played with alcoholics and addicts for many years and after 23 years of sobriety can still remember the whats, whys and wherefores of alcoholism. He has conducted funerals for many addicts both recovering and those still in the throes of their illness. He hopes to show you that an addict is a human being too. nicklaurie.co.uk

David Miles is an award-winning funeral celebrant. He is passionate about recognising, respecting and responding to equality and diversity principles, seeing these values as essential to his role. As a deaf Disabled person he promotes Disability Equality as a Trainer.  Having been a Nurse and Social Worker David has supported people with learning difficulties for many years. davidmilesuk.com

Emma delivered with sensitivity, passion and fun, keeping everyone fully engaged from start to finish.
The practical exercises that she gave the celebrants to do were stimulating, thought provoking and challenged them to think outside of the box and stretched their creative writing skills to new levels, with those present even saying that they produced levels of writing which they didn’t know they could deliver.” – 2018 CPD conference

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