I am originally from Perth and along with my wife, Elizabeth, I moved to Moray in 1979 where I served until December 2008 as a Police Officer in Grampian Police. It is a beautiful part of the country which seems to have its own microclimate as the national weather forecast is mostly wrong, fortunately towards the better than forecast end of the spectrum.
With my children having grown up and moved away and my retirement from the Police Force, Elizabeth and I thought that we would have more time now to indulge ourselves in pursuits we never had time for before. We are members of Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. We enjoy the history and beauty of the buildings, not to mention the tea rooms and the buns. I do not go there with the intention of scouting out new venues but sometimes the fact that the locations do seem ideal for a wedding come to mind.
We have developed a love for the beautiful island of Madeira and head off there in the latter part of the year after the hectic wedding season is over. It is said that Madeira is for the “nearly dead” or the “newlywed” as it attracts the more mature visitor and those looking for a lovely setting for a honeymoon. It is a quiet place with excellent restaurants, very friendly people and fantastic scenery. Within hours of arriving, you can feel all the stress leaving your body. After a fortnight, you have developed muscles in your legs you never knew you had with the amount of walking up and down hills you do as Madeira is definitely not flat.
The one drawback to living in Moray is the amount of travelling involved in getting anywhere, whether to airports or even visiting our children and grandchildren. I do travel extensively to conduct weddings especially the central belt which gives me an excuse to visit my grandsons!!!
Why I became a Celebrant
I became a Celebrant due to several apparently unconnected occurrences. My daughter was looking to marry in a non-religious ceremony and wanted something different than a civil ceremony with a Registrar if at all possible. Between her and my wife they found that the Humanist Society of Scotland had been licensed to carry out fully legal weddings and the next I knew, we were having a Humanist ceremony. I thought I had better find out a bit about them so as not to appear too ignorant when I met the person conducting their ceremony. When I visited their website, I found that their aspirations and ethos of placing all humans as equals with the same rights and responsibilities matched my own values. Never having been a believer in any God, I now had a name I could call myself when such discussions came up. The ceremony itself was very traditional but what struck all who were attending their first Humanist ceremony was how personal and reflective of the bride and groom it was.
Some months later, I attended a Humanist funeral service and found the fact the ceremony was about the person and had people laughing and crying as we relived his life. After the ceremony which was the most enjoyable funeral I had attended, I reflected on what it had been. It was, as said in the HSS funeral leaflet, a celebration of his life.
As I was approaching the end of my time in the Police, a colleague died and his funeral had me spitting blood. He was quite a character and the stories about him were legion. However, during the religious ceremony, his name was mentioned twice. I was annoyed that so little of the person I knew was contained in the funeral service as were others.
A few weeks after this funeral, Elizabeth saw an advert for Celebrants in this area and suggested that I consider it as I had the skills they were looking for. After speaking with people I trusted to tell me the truth about whether or not I would be a capable Celebrant (I did not wish to be likened to that minister) and being encouraged to go for it I applied. Following a couple of successful interviews, I trained in March 2009. Following a mentoring period, I conducted my first funeral in May and my first wedding in August that year.
It is a really enjoyable, sometimes stressful but very rewarding feeling when after a ceremony people approach and make positive comments about how the ceremony captured the couple/deceased. The one downside is that all the time I thought I would have to myself to visit places or even just fit in a round of golf has been severely restricted such has been the demand for my services.