Southowram resident wins national award and is elected Vice President of Association
Jeff Heaton, a funeral and wedding celebrant who lives in Southowram, attended the Association of Independent Celebrants (AOIC) conference in Harrogate at the weekend and was given the Runner-up Award in the Funeral Celebrants section.
At the same meeting Jeff was also voted onto the AOIC Committee as one of the Vice Presidents by the members of the association.
Jeff is an independent celebrant who has taken many funerals at most of the local crematoria and cemeteries including green burials in woodland cemeteries and have covered all ages from babies born sleeping to centenarians. Jeff is also trained particularly in dealing with those who have died by suicide.
In his award he was praised for the way he makes his services a real “celebration of life” making them truly personal to the deceased and the family. Jeff was also praised for his compassion and empathy when meeting with the families of those who have passed away.
Jeff’s wedding work has included taking weddings in Crete and The Gambia as well as at many venues throughout the UK including Hever Castle (the home of Anne Boleyn), Cliveden House, Old Trafford and many more. In fact, he had to miss part of the conference to take a wedding at Carlton Towers near Snaith. He also represents the AOIC on the Wedding Celebrancy Commission
The AOIC is “the voice of the celebrant” being a national trade association for independent celebrants throughout the UK and represents celebrants on various government and other committees. The work of the AOIC during the past 18 months has been, very much, Covid related in pushing for clarification on the numbers who have been allowed to attend funerals. On the wedding front there has been work with the Law Commission on a report which should go to government before the end of this year on reform of the Marriage Act which, it is hoped, will allow celebrants to perform the legal parts of a marriage and will allow couples the opportunity to have their wedding where they want, when they want and with the content they want.
On receiving the award Jeff said that he was “delighted and proud to accept it on behalf of all those he has worked with in what has undoubtedly been a very difficult 18 months. It is always a privilege to be able to work with people at some of the most difficult times in their lives.”