Hayley Cropper’s funeral: Simon Nightingale, local Humanist celebrant, comments on radio

200px-Hayley_Cropper1Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper’s Humanist funeral was screened to a huge audience. This is not the first Humanist funeral in the Street – Alma Baldwin’s funeral in 2001 was also a Humanist one. Simon Nightingale, a Shrewsbury hospital consultant, is a Humanist celebrant, and has officiated at many funerals. He was asked to comment on Shropshire Radio’s early morning program about Hayley’s funeral and also a bit about suicide and assisted dying.

This can be heard again for a few more days by going to:
and listening on the time-line between 1:18:00 and 1:26.00.

Many people who aren’t religious know they wouldn’t want a church funeral for themselves but aren’t really sure what else is available. Hayley’s funeral will certainly let people know that there is an alternative – and that it’s a really good one.

Humanist celebrants conduct bespoke non-religious funerals in crematoria, burial grounds and other settings. Everyone is unique and leads a different life. The funeral reflects this and focuses on that person as an individual. By giving Hayley a humanist funeral, Corrie is reflecting what many of us now want from funerals. People want an occasion that is about celebrating a life led and the relationships forged with family and friends, as well as being able to share sadness.

When preparing a funeral, the celebrant visits those closest to the person that has died to find out about their life and what is wanted from the occasion. He/she advises on music, readings and contributions from other people and then goes away and writes a unique ceremony. Humanist funerals are completely flexible. There are no rules or set script. The celebrant’s role is about helping to create a funeral that’s just right for that person that has died.

Hayley Cropper’s life has been a colourful one, even for a soap character. The first transgender character in a UK soap, the final storyline has stirred up debate around ‘right to die’ issues as Hayley took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Humanist celebrants also mark the other important stages of life and the British Humanist Association accredits celebrants for non-religious baby naming and wedding ceremonies as well as funerals.

You can see a short video about humanist funerals at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28FxOKDpobE and read more at https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/non-religious-funerals/.

The British Humanist Association has around 300 celebrants in its Humanist Ceremonies network. It is estimated that around 750,00 people each year attend a humanist baby naming, wedding or funeral ceremony.

For more information about local funerals, weddings and baby namings, please contact us at info@shropshire.humanist.org.uk or your local Humanist group.

Humanist books for children

From Tricia Budd:

I’m a member of the North Staffordshire/South Cheshire Humanist group.

I have written three books for children, that could also be read with parents or teachers, to give a humanist perspective on three main events in our lives – a  baby naming, a wedding and a funeral. They are centred around a girl called Rosie and her family and friends.

The books show from a young person’s perspective how these events in life do not need a religious element to have value and meaning. I wrote the stories as an alternative to the many religious children’s books dealing with these events.

The books are available from the BHA (and are shown on their website) or at Oakes Bank Publishing.

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