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Funeral celebrant says new role is ‘a great privilege’

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An Occold man is set to take the other side of the lectern when he changes jobs to become a funeral celebrant.

Andrew Fairweather originally trained as a pastor at theological college in Dorset for three years, before going on to become a funeral director in 1999.

The 49-year-old said: “We took a ‘care of the bereaved’ course there, which was taken by a funeral director.

Andrew Fairweather has started work as a funeral celebrant. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Andrew Fairweather has started work as a funeral celebrant. Picture: Mark Bullimore

“When I came back here, I watched a funeral done by Rackhams Funeral Service and I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Mr Fairweather started as a trainee funeral director in Ipswich before moving to Diss Funeralcare, in Stanley Road.

After 17 years with them, he decided to become a celebrant – a role he feels has become more popular over the years, contributing to a very different approach to funeral services.

He said: “Over the 20 years I have been in the industry, funeral services have changed so much; it used to be a parish minister taking them.

“Now, with celebrants, the service can be much more tailored to the person’s beliefs and passions, giving relatives and friends a more personal touch.”

Though some may not like the idea of a job in the funeral service, Mr Fairweather says he takes great pride in helping families and hopes his new venture will also help him to be there for more people.

He said: “It is helping someone through their most difficult times that I take most from the job.

“Some may think it is a strange occupation, but those in the industry will tell you that working in the funeral service gives you so much job satisfaction.

“Becoming a celebrant and talking to the person’s relatives and friends about them, finding out all their stories and memories, makes you feel part of the family, which, for me, is a great privilege.”

Mr Fairweather, who has been part of many ceremonies, including burials at sea, hopes the future of funerals will not only have personalised words, but also feature more services at a venue with a special connection to the deceased.

He said: “With my new role, I would like to explore tailoring the venue, as well as the service itself.

“For example, if they were a member of a golf club, we could hold a service at the club. There are a lot of options.”

To learn more about Andrew's new role, click here.

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