Wokingham Town Council’s Mayor has appointed a humanist to be the Mayor’s Celebrant for the first time ever. Councillor Sally Gurney [pictured, left] has chosen Helen Jefferies [pictured, right] – who is also a Humanists UK celebrant – and Helen will now participate in civic functions such as the Mayor’s Sunday and the Remembrance Day ceremony. Humanists UK congratulates Helen on her appointment and welcomes the recognition of the role of humanists in public life.

Helen joins a growing number of humanists who have been and continue to be involved in civic ceremonies and civic duties. A humanist chaplain was appointed to the Mayor of Lewisham in 1998-9, and many other examples have followed, including celebrants appointed by the Mayors of Leicester, Camden, Neath, Carmarthen, Stafford, Basingstoke, and the Vale of Glamorgan, to officiate at mayoral inaugurations and to lead ‘time for reflection’ at formal occasions. Celebrants are frequently asked to lead memorial ceremonies in places such as schools and community centres.

Councillor Sally Gurney, the Mayor of Wokingham Town Council said:
‘Wokingham is a town rich in history and council traditions. Over the years it has been customary for a Mayor to choose a chaplain to work alongside them in their term of office, to offer support and guidance. It was important to me to choose someone to work with in my mayoral year who is not connected to any religion, and is aligned with my own views, so together we can look at the core values we all seek, regardless of faith or belief. Helen and I clicked from the start, and I am delighted that she agreed to take on this role and go on this journey with me.’

Helen Jefferies, the newly appointed humanist Mayor’s Chaplain, commented:
‘As a Humanists UK celebrant, I know how important it is to make time for moments of reflection. Big personal events like weddings and naming ceremonies give people a chance to think about the kind of parent or partner they want to be. In public life, a humanist chaplain can be truly inclusive by reminding everyone of our shared human values, regardless of faith or belief. I’m honoured to have been appointed and look forward to serving the Council and the town.’

Humanists UK Director of Ceremonies Deborah Hooper commented:
‘We send our congratulations to Helen and Sally for Helen’s well-deserved appointment and wish her well throughout her tenure. Over half the UK’s population now say that they belong to no religion and it is important that this is reflected in public life.’

Taken from Humanists UK