Soap storyline could lead to more humanist funerals in Keighley area

Dawn Thewlis, of Haworth, who conducts humanist funerals for those wanting a non-religious service

Dawn Thewlis, of Haworth, who conducts humanist funerals for those wanting a non-religious service

First published in News by

Hayley Cropper’s death on Coronation Street may have caused viewers to shed tears. And now a Haworth woman believes it could lead to a rising number of humanist funerals.

Soap fans have been gripped by the Coronation Street character’s decision to end her own life after battling cancer.

Dawn Thewlis conducts non- religious humanist funerals like the one Hayley will be having and thinks the high-profile spotlight the show will provide will result in an increase in the popularity of alternative services.

Dawn, 52, of Midgley Drive, was so impressed by the non-religious funerals for her son and mother that she trained as a humanist celebrant to be able to conduct services herself.

She has undertaken the role for the past seven years and has conducted more than 600 ceremonies during that time.

She said: “We’re all unique and lead such different lives, so it’s only right each funeral reflects this and focuses on the person as an individual.” Miss Thewlis said she was “delighted” Coronation Street, watched by so many people, was showcasing this type of ceremony.

“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,” she said.

“People want an occasion that is about celebrating a life and the relationships forged with family and friends, as well as being able to share in the sadness of loss.”

Miss Thewlis is an accredited celebrant of the British Humanist Association and has previously worked as a children’s social worker and counsellor.

She lived in Long Lee before moving to Haworth four years ago.

Demand for humanist funeral services is on the rise. Miss Thewlis said: “When I first qualified I thought I’d be doing a couple of funerals a month but from the first week I worked as a celebrant I haven’t stopped.

“People think this is a strange area of work to go into but it’s really rewarding and I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

“Providing people with the perfect way to say goodbye to someone they love is a privilege.”

When preparing a funeral, Miss Thewlis visits those closest to the deceased to find out about their life and what is wanted from the occasion.

She advises on music, readings and contributions from other people, before sitting down to write a unique ceremony.

Miss Thewlis can be contacted via e-mail at dawnthewlis@yahoo.co.uk or call 07879 467799.

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