Michael Hannah

“Empathy, poetry … and a sense of humour”

Now in my mid-sixties, I came to celebrancy late in life. I’ve had a very varied career and have lived in different cities and countries, something that has helps me relate to people in all sorts of circumstances.

I have known loss myself – the death of close friends and relatives. And I have attended numerous funerals and memorial services, both good and, sometimes, very bad.

This experience, coupled with having created memorials for friends and relatives including my own father, led me to train as a celebrant. Neil Dorward, Scotland’s first Civil Funeral Celebrant, was my trainer. I received the Certificate with Distinction from his company (Bespoke Civil Ceremonies now the Celebrant Training Academy) in 2018.

Michael Hannah outside the Rutherford Building at Dumfries Campus

Key qualities I bring to this work include a talent for story-telling, a strong belief in the power and poetry of the spoken word and a feeling for ceremony. A keen sense of humour coupled with good judgment. Above all, empathy and an ability and willingness to listen.

As a gay man, I have a special understanding of the sensitivity often needed when conducting ceremonies for LGBTQ people.

I’ve now been working as a celebrant since early 2019 and I now regard it as a vocation. You can read more about my experience and training. And if you would like to know more about me and where I work don’t hesitate to get in touch or watch this short video interview made by my fellow celebrant, Angela Maughan.

My interest in end of life issues is wider than just my professional interest in funeral celebrancy. In January 2021 I started a part time online MSc in End of Life Studies at Glasgow University. I’ve now completed the degree and will graduate with distinction in July 2024. The experience has greatly strengthened my interest in the evolving history of the Scottish funeral and for “thanatology” (the scientific study of death) in general – and given me a taste for research.

(Y por último, hablo español….)

Michael Hannah

Michael Hannah, June 2024