From a huge field of contenders for this award, this year’s Celebrant of the Year was chosen for her genuine likeability as well as her exceptional professionalism.
Highly regarded by fellow deathcare staff and affectionately referred to in the testimonials from families she has helped, Stevie’s caring support up to and throughout the funeral is matched only by the unassuming way she slips out of the door when her job is done. It’s not her style to accept any gratitude or thanks shaking hands afterwards, she believes the attention should be for the gathered grieving family.
Unflappable, smart, articulate and with crystal clear delivery, she has the rare ability to produce a bespoke service for each family without cutting and pasting from other ceremonies and is described by funeral directors as serene, calming, soothing and gentle in her presentation.
One funeral director told her that if a particular family’s request for her to use bad language in the ceremony was too much, he would turn the job down rather than cause her any distress. She didn’t mind, she had spent years editing ‘arse’ jokes in her previous job.
Stevie worked as production manager for Viz magazine for 20 years until she was made redundant in 2012 when she was in her fifties. Her relationship with Viz magazine dates from 1992 when she starred in a photo story alongside Harry Enfield. She said “I think they kept me on so long because I could spell diarrhoea and they couldn’t.”
Finding herself redundant in her fifties, Stevie’s first thought was to train as a funeral director “because I like making things right for people and I’m not too squeamish.” Instead she trained as a funeral celebrant – and never looked back: “At the beginning, I thought the funeral directors were saving the best families for me, because they were all so lovely. I don’t know if it’s that people in extreme situations behave well, but they tell me such wonderful stories about the departed that my only regret is I can’t meet them. I’d love to have a cup of tea with them!”
Stevie attends Sunday Assembly in Newcastle where she recently gave an address on death.
Stevie has no idea who nominated her for this award.
Runners Up: Rosalie Kuyvenhoven and Pat Winslow
The judges also gave special thanks to Diana Gould for her pioneering work with baby funerals over many years.