Anna Lyons, Co-Director of Life Death Whatever
Anna is an end of life doula, helping those who are living with dying. Her experiences have shown her that people want and need to talk about dying, but they just don't know how. She's also a teacher and fine arts lecturer.
Dr Ros Taylor MBE
Professor Deborah Bowman MBE FRSA, Professor of Bioethics, Clinical Ethics and Medical Law, St George’s, University of London
Deborah is a Professor of Bioethics and Clinical Ethics at St. George's, University of London with a particular interest in the role of emotion in ethical decision-making, moral distress and public involvement in ethical debate. She also works as a broadcaster, mostly recently writing and presenting Test Case for BBC Radio 4. When not in lecture theatres, she can usually be found in proper theatres. She has drawn on her interest in drama, theatre and the arts to explore ethical questions and matters of life and death through the lenses of the arts and humanities. Most recently, she worked with The Park Theatre on its production of Zoe Mills’ play about death and dying ‘Killing Time’ and The Donmar Warehouse on its production of Nick Payne’s ‘Elegy’. Previously, she has collaborated on productions at The Southwark Playhouse (TomCat), Theatre 503 (‘Valhalla’ and ‘The State We’re In’) and The Arcola Theatre (‘Professor Bernhardi’). She's a member of the Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Committee and Chair of The Deafinitely Theatre Company. In 2016, she was awarded the MBE for Services to Medical Ethics.
Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Regius Professor of Psychiatry, Director - King's Centre Military Health Research, King's College London, Past President Royal College of Psychiatrists
Stephanie Owens, Senior Communications Officer, Hospice UK and Dying Matters
Dying Matters believes that everyone from any walk of life has a right to the highest level of end of life care. As part of Dying Matters, Stephanie is passionate about getting people to open up about dying, death and bereavement. She believes understanding and acknowledging this helps people to live a more fulfilling life. The main way we go about this is via Dying Matters Awareness Week in May each year, but the work continues throughout the year with your help and support.
Dr Ollie Minton PhD FRCP FHEA, Macmillan Consultant and honorary senior lecturer in palliative medicine
Ollie declares his professional interest in Life Death Whatever as a consultant who deals with death every day. He sees a lot of late conversations and lack of planning in his day job.
His approach is to encourage people to normalise death and accept that we can't live forever. It's quality, not quantity, that matters at the end of life.
Fran Hall, CEO, Good Funeral Guide
Fran looks after the day to day running of the Good Funeral Guide, the UK's trusted independent not for profit information resource for funeral advice. The GFG runs an accreditation scheme for funeral directors, burial grounds and crematoria, and Fran regularly visits each business to write reviews which are published on the website. Fran also runs the Good Funeral Guild, a network of like-minded individuals who are all keen to see the way we do funerals in the UK improve. Fran is also part of the Good Funeral Awards, the event that celebrates excellence in the funeral industry.
Claire and Rupert Callender, self taught ceremonial undertakers since 1999
Claire and Rupert's key ideals are honesty, appropriateness and participation. The duo reject the formal etiquette that governs the mainstream in favour of a deeper working relationship with the bereaved. Euphemisms of any type are avoided, including embalming. They empower families to reclaim the experience of death through creative practical involvement. They also write performance rituals around grief, time and ancestors.
Philip Ball, Director of Patient Care, St Clare Hospice, Essex
In his training as a Registered Nurse, Philip realised he wanted to work with those nearing the end of their lives and as they died. Hospices were being set up and Palliative Care was developed. In over 25 years working in end of life care in a variety of settings, he has recognised the importance of acknowledging that we'll die. He's spent time with people as they died; in that he has been privileged to share that experience.
Philip is now in a position to develop services and the people who provide the care to those who are facing dying and those who've been bereaved. Life. Death. Whatever. provides the opportunity to enhance the dialogue and expand the media in which death and dying can be explored.
Christopher Chavez, Chief Hospitality Officer, prime produce, House of Genius
Chris creates collaboratories. He is the co-founder of prime produce, a guild for 21st century craft in Hell’s Kitchen in New York built on the values of hospitality and intentional service. He also leads expansion for House of Genius, a global neighborhood of people who want to make neighborhoods as resourceful as the world and the world feel as intimate as a neighborhood with locations in cities around the globe including New York, London, Denver, Tel Aviv, Sao Paolo, Bangalore, and Sao Paulo.
Erica Buist, Writer
Erica is a freelance journalist, mainly for the Guardian. She is working on The Deathtivals Project, a book in which she travels to eight different countries to experience their death festivals. The idea was sparked when she and her husband found her father-in-law dead in his house and, in the traumatic aftermath, wondered about the places in the world where death is celebrated rather than reviled. The book is currently being developed for TV.
Anna Marks, Freelance art writer, curator & content creator
Anna is a freelance art writer, curator, and a content creator and has just completed her Master's Degree in Curating Contemporary Design. Anna takes an interest in design for the ageing population and is interested in establishing a new dialogue in how we communicate death and ageing in the community.
Abi Pattenden, Vice-President of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), Funeral Director
Abi is the Manager of an independent and family run funeral service and the current Vice-President of the NAFD. She's passionate about communication, inclusivity and diversity.
Toby Angel, Managing Director of Sacred Stones
Sacred Stones was established in late 2014. We are a small private company that design, build and administer unique handcrafted burial mounds for cremation ashes. Our ethos is very simple. We provide secular venues where community can celebrate life. Our burial mounds, or barrows as they are commonly known, provide intimate, romantic space for funerals and commemorative events. For us time is the most valuable element. We don't prescribe or restrict, but simply accommodate personal journeys helping to celebrating life.
Emma Curtis, Extraordinary Ceremonies
Emma is a Minister ‘without religion’ and the founder of Extraordinary Ceremonies. She creates highly personalised funerals and memorial ceremonies based on the personalities and beliefs of those she serves. As a certified thanatologist and grief specialist, as well as a celebrant, she helps the bereaved to feel fully supported through and beyond the funeral ceremony. Emma believes that the traditional stiff upper lip is not serving us well in our grief and facilities gentle, supportive ways to mourn with dignity. She was a finalist for the Good Funeral Guide’s ‘Celebrant of the Year’ Award in both 2015 and 2016.
Cate Field, Sound & Visual Artist, Teacher and Lecturer
After more than ten years of teaching and lecturing in mainstream education, Cate now works as a freelance artist and teacher within special educational needs and disabilities. She enjoys the freedom of lecturing, teaching and presenting work in different places and to different people. Her visual artwork is mainly digital and is often site specific to where she is exhibiting or lecturing, and her soundscapes reflect the ordinariness of daily life. Combined they connect people and places and create an environment through which conversations can happen.
Dr Panagiotis Pentaris, Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich
Panagiotis is a thanatologist and a researcher with educational and experiential background in social work and psychotherapy. He has researched extensively how faith or belief intersect with the experiences of death, dying and bereavement, and explored the role of media and technology in dying and grieving. He is a Death Cafe practitioner, a representative of Let's Talk About Death in San Francisco and great advocate of embracing life, with death in it.
Emy Forster-Sharma, Funeral Director, Bereavement Counsellor & Vice-President of the Southern District of the London Association of Funeral Directors
Having started her career in the field of social work, Emy is bringing a new perspective to what is still, arguably, a traditional and male dominated ‘death industry’ in the UK. She is keen to promote personalisation and choice for the bereaved and is passionate about providing ongoing care for her clients. She believes that the conversation about death and dying, only recently restarted in the Western world after decades of reserve, is vital to the wellbeing of the living.
Ivor Williams, Designer - Helix Centre, Co-founder - Humane Engineering, Founder - Being and Dying
Ivor specialises in design for death and dying, through his work at the Helix Centre as Senior Design Associate and his research consultancy Being and Dying. His design practice is focused around art direction, interaction and experience design. Informed by transdisciplinary collaboration, he works with designers, researchers, academics and clinicians. He explores the use of technology for social good as co-founder of the design company, Humane Engineering. Their first product, Cove, is a music maker designed to support people experiencing bereavement. It was one of the first mental health apps approved by the NHS for their new digital library.
Nuri McBridge, Research Fellow, Advocate, Writer
Nuri McBride is a Research Fellow at the Minerva Centre for the Study of Law under Extreme Conditions, where she investigates how society, specifically, how the law, copes with mass death events and the refugees these events create. Nuri is a 5th generation Metaharet (ritual preparer of the dead in Judaism) and is active in natural death and death positivity education. As a journeyman perfumer, she examines the use of olfaction in death rituals in her blog deathscent.com and has written pieces on death for Death and the Maiden, Offbeat Home and other publications.
Catherine Fox, Psychosynthesis Psychotherapist
Catherine is a Psychosynthesis Psychotherapist and Bereavement Counsellor with over 20 years experience. She specialises in individual and family needs with death and life transitions as well as addictions, alcoholism and recovery.
Rebecca Goss, Poet, Tutor, Mentor
Rebecca Goss is an established poet. Her second collection, Her Birth (Carcanet, 2013) about the death of her young daughter from a rare heart condition, was shortlisted for The 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection, The Warwick Prize for Writing 2015 and The Portico Prize for Literature 2015. Rebecca believes grief must be articulated in order to survive it. She has worked extensively in the world of medical humanities, judging the Hippocrates International Prize for Poetry and Medicine in 2015 and speaking at internationally recognised conferences including Medicine Unboxed; Life Death, Whatever; UCL Encountering Pain and ‘Neonatal Palliative and End of Life Care’ for Child Bereavement UK. In 2014, Rebecca was selected for The Poetry Book Society's Next Generation Poets, a list complied every ten years of twenty poets ‘expected to dominate the poetry landscape of the coming decade’.
Dr Helen Frisby, Secretary, Association for the Study of Death & Society
We're all going to die. Death is universal: but the ways in which we approach, avoid and attempt to subvert mortality are often historically and culturally specific. The way(s) in which we die reveal a society's most treasured values and profound fears in life. This insight underpins Helen's research into the history of death, dying and funerals.
Helen obtained her PhD on 'The Spiritual, Social and Emotional Significance of Death and Dying in Yorkshire, c.1840-c.1914' from the University of Leeds, UK, in 2009, and is an internationally recognised expert on the history, folklore and material culture of death, dying and funerals.
Caroline Lloyd, PhD Candidate, Trinity College, Dublin; Volunteer, Educator, Author
Caroline has 30 years' experience supporting the bereaved as a volunteer in the roles of befriender, counsellor, group facilitator and Board Trustee. Her current priorities are researching for a PhD in bereavement, delivering training on grief to professionals, running workshops & supporting those bereaved after a road death. She was commissioned to write an accessible book on grief by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, which will be published in November 2017.
Merryn Henderson, Uniqueulogy
Life stops, but great words may live forever. Merryn writes eulogies for special situations, but she hopes you’ll never realise where or when she’s been involved. She echoes her speakers’ tone of voice, working in confidence with families and media teams; she’s commited to promoting the art of better funerary rhetoric and would like everyone to have more support and better options, when they need them, if they’re completely lost for words.
Fergus Wessel, Stoneletters Studio
Based in Oxfordshire, Stoneletters Studio specialises in unique, finely carved memorials. Fergus is passionate about memorials and believes that the importance of a memorial is often overlooked. People tend to be hurried into making a hasty decision, but they need time and space to choose a fitting memorial for their loved one, and the whole process of choosing a headstone or cremation tablet can be therapeutic and comforting if done with patience and compassion. Fergus' blog is full of advice and inspiration on choosing a memorial.
Dr Deborah Forrest PHD, MSN, Registered Psychologist, Registered Nurse, Author & Speaker Specializing in Issues of Aging, Dementia and End-of-Life
Deborah A. Forrest, PhD., author of Symphony of Spirits: Encounters with the Spiritual Dimensions of Alzheimer and Touch the Spirit: Connecting to the Inner World of Dementia, is a registered psychologist and a registered nurse. She earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology under the tutelage of Dr. Catherine Sanders, the late Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. Inge Broverman. She completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in geriatric neuropsychology. Dr. Forrest writes and lectures around the world on the topics of aging, spirituality, bereavement and dementia. She lives in Cheltenham, England.
Sarah Weller, Owner of Natural Home Funerals
Sarah is passionate about empowering people to connect with death in their families and communities. She works from 'end of life to funeral' as a Soul Midwife, home funeral advocate and funeral celebrant. The recent birth of Natural Home Funerals addresses the needs of those who love the idea of involvement and care within the home but do not feel able to manage the process themselves. As part of this venture, Sarah will also be teaching home funeral skills and continuing to support people to feel empowered around their own deaths and those of others through creative workshops and education.