Debbie Duggan - Civil Celebrant
Runner up in the Association of Independent Celebrant awards for Celebrant of the year : 2020
In a recent interview, Debbie explains why she makes a good Celebrant;
My experience and skills demonstrate a strong aptitude for helping people through challenging times. The theme running through my career history has been about displaying a positive and caring approach towards members of the public, colleagues and other stakeholders when facilitating change or managing conflict using coaching and leading skills.
I have natural empathy with others, especially when dealing with life challenges and I became very aware of the role and value of Celebrant when dealing with tragedy among family and friends. I had the unfortunate, but rewarding opportunity to guide others through the funeral process and deliver eulogies. This also included the compassionate process of facilitating living wishes and arranging funerals where close relatives of the dying were unable to do so.
The role provides a great opportunity to continue my life-long learning passion around how we all deal with life defining situations with dignity, composure and humanity. Performing as a Celebrant seems a natural step for me both professionally and personally at the maturity of my professional life.
Debbie talks more about the Celebrant role as a force for good and providing choice and quality service to the public;
We all face life challenges from our own perspective and without the power of hindsight, we deal with them as they arrive. This can often mean we fail to mark the occasion deeply enough to take strength, learn or be mindful of others around us.
Having someone there for you to help everyone through the transition presented by both positive and negative life events can make all the difference when it comes to travelling through the journey of change. The journey is well documented and known under many names including The Grief Process or The Change Cycle for example. My experience of dealing with a diverse range of individuals at every point on the cycle has taught me there is always something new to learn about how we react to, learn and cope with change.
For me, the role of The Celebrant should be a positive guide through life events that also helps people express their emotions in ways that would not be possible while they are still going through the change process themselves. A key part of the guidance is a sensitive and investigative approach that reaches the meaning of the event to the people involved, how it fits in their lives and others. Achieving that and providing an experience that touches the people involved requires a blend of skills and personality to encourage engagement and trust in the Celebrant. In my career, one of the most important aspects to my roles was to ensure positive relations with others to keep dialogue open to provide opportunity to negotiate and resolve issues as they arise through conflict and change.
The Celebrant must also co-ordinate with other agencies or stakeholders involved to ensure a seamless experience and contribute to the overall positive role of the wider industry that supports life events. My experience of networking and liaising with multiple agencies on a day to day basis helps me maintain awareness of the potential challenges in maintaining a quality customer experience.
Individual choice and self-empowerment have become important forces for good in our society that helps people deal with life events on their own terms. The Celebrant role helps people engage with the event in a healthy way that encourages the support of the people around them. I fully support this development and see the Celebrant as a way to encourage a sensitive and sensible approach to helping people deal with life events in their own unique way.
As a Celebrant I fully appreciate the need to be an ambassador for the value Celebrants can add to what for many people will be the first time they have experienced a formal life event. I have developed a reputation for trustworthiness, integrity, confidentiality and diplomacy in many situations from the most intimate to high profile projects with VIP’s. I have developed a wide range of professional skills and experience to support me as a Celebrant from technical administration to interpersonal professionalism in dealing with the public in the most challenging circumstances. Raising the profile of the Celebrant role is a public relations challenge that requires a co-ordinated approach by the Celebrant community. My sensitive ear is one of my key strengths and I hope to contribute to the growth and development of the celebrant role and I am keen to invest time to develop my network and develop relationships with peers, influencers and referrers to achieve this. I look forward to playing my part in the Celebrant community and implementing best practice and creativity from the start. As a profession, I see the celebrant becoming more accepted as a key partner to life’s important events supported by public and industry outreach and ongoing training and development of skills and standards".