Members gallery 3
Charlie Blowers, Founder and Director of Moving Pieces
Charlie founded Moving Pieces as an innovative mental health provision combining arts psychotherapy, physical theatre and body-based approaches to protecting health and wellbeing. The company offers workshops, seminars and training to artists, theatre makers, healthcare workers, therapists, and counsellors who may be helping clients to manage loss, trauma and grief. They also devise live theatre performance integrating life experience, movement, mask work and storytelling. Moving Pieces’ latest theatre work, Total Eclipse, is a creative response to dealing with death based on the company’s own experiences of bereavement. It follows the story of Lily and Paco, who have both recently lost their mothers, as they travel to the top of a mountain to see a lunar eclipse, a moment that holds different cultural symbolism for both of them.
The Revd Dr Sandra Millar, Head of Life Events, Church of England
Sandra leads work for the Church of England that encourages local churches as they serve individuals and communities around life's big events, which includes talking about death and dying, as well as helping with funerals and bereavement. Resources such as GraveTalk help churches to get people talking and planning around death, dying and bereavement. There are big questions to think about as the cultural context around death and funerals continues to change, and the Church of England is working on good practice around practical help as well asspace to think about the issues.
Dr Stacey Pitsillides, Lecturer in Design, University of Greenwich
Dr. Stacey Pitsillides is a Lecturer in Design at the University of Greenwich. She has curated various events for public engagement around death and technology and collaborated with Hospices, introducing co-design as a method to artistically work with the bereaved. Her research has featured in a range of festivals including Death: The Southbank Centre's Festival for the Living, The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, Internet Week Europe, FutureFest, the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the Southbank Centre’s Beyond Belief Festival and Dying Matters Week. She is the editor of a special issue on Networked Emotions for the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media and is on the standing committee for the Death Online Research Symposium.
Heidi Safia Mirza, Visiting Professor of Race, Faith and Culture, Goldsmith’s College, University of London Emeritus Professor Equality Studies in Education, UCL Institute of Education
Heidi Safia Mirza is a black feminist scholar, teacher, and activist who passionately believes in the transformative power of education to change lives and the quest for social justice in life and death. She is a public orator, celebrant, freelance writer and researcher on all things to do with women’s rights, equality, diversity and cultural difference. She is author of several bestselling books including Young Female and Black, which was voted in the British Educational Research Association (BERA) top 40 most influential educational studies in Britain. As one of the first and few female professors of colour in UK she has championed the cause of anti-racist educational reform for black and minority ethnic young people for over 30 years, and hopes one day to see truly progressive courses in ‘life, death, whatever’ on the university curriculum!
Isabel Russo, Head of Ceremonies at Humanists UK
Isabel is responsible for the 400 strong network of celebrants trained and accredited by Humanists UK that conduct non-religious humanist ceremonies throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. She is committed to excellence in celebrant training and also to opening up the conversation around the need for non-religious ritual in all areas of contemporary life.
Holly Smith, Independent Celebrant
Holly is an independent celebrant who creates funeral and memorial ceremonies that celebrate life. She believes that talking openly about death and dying is vitally important in creating a society that feels informed and empowered when it comes to planning funerals and coping with loss.
Dr LJ Smith, Respiratory and General Medicine Physician
LJ is an NHS hospital doctor who has seen good deaths, bad deaths and everything in between. She knows people want and need to talk about death and dying but there are too few spaces where this is encouraged and supported. She has many conversations with people very close to the end, and believes many of them would benefit from earlier discussions. But she also knows this requires a societal shift, and a community approach. This is too big for healthcare professionals to fix, so she seeks out other people doing great work, and tries to bridge the gap between hospital life and normal life. She has worked with the Life.Death.Whatever directors Louise and Anna, poet Hollie McNish, writer Marion Coutts, and Death Cafe founder Jon Underwood at events in the past, and has found them all uplifting, enriching and inspiring.
Harriet Allner, Writer, Blogger & Communications Professional
Harriet is a general word-nerd (currently working in fintech), with a penchant for setting up shop as a reader-in-residence. Having studied philosophy and literature at Edinburgh University, she went on complete her Masters at Durham where she had the chance to investigate the relationship between neuroscience and books, in particular the rise of the neuronovel and Extended Mind Theory. A central part of this looked at the relationship between our minds, technology, literature and the Uncanny, and how we understand the boundaries of skin and skull. Thus, from technology and brains to all things curious and (of course) bookish, Harriet tends to write about things that interest her rather than anything specific and is a big believer in multidisciplinary study and multipotential lives.
The Revd Dr Jeremy Brooks, Team Rector, Beaconsfield Anglican Team
Jeremy is a Church of England parish priest with over 20 years experience of taking funerals. His doctoral studies at Kings College London were on the changing patterns of Church of England funerals in the 21st Century. He is the author of a number of books, including Heaven's Morning Breaks, a resource book for ministers conducting funerals and all those interested in the subject. He is also part of the Archbishops' Council Working Group on Life Events.
Susan Morris, Natural Death Centre charity trustee
Susan has been a volunteer for the Natural Death Centre charity for over 25 years. Innovation and cross boundary working has been key throughout. In 2012 Susan was awarded the title of the UK nurse of the year for innovation. In 2016 she won the life time achievement award at the Death Oscars. Susan has completed the MSc Death and Society. Susan has worked as a specialist palliative care nurse for over 25 years.
Susan tweets as @ndccharity @moretodeath @EdenVBurials @SusanMorris88
The Art of Dying Well
Providing hopeful accompaniment for the human journey. The Art of Dying Well was established in November 2016 but is part of a much longer tradition of helping people to have a good death through accompaniment and the provision of good spiritual, medical and psychological care. Based in the Catholic tradition but open to all, the Art of Dying Well provides resources, videos, blogs and podcasts to help people have a better death. Dying well means different things to us all. Death is an individual experience, but a community of accompaniment on the journey can help us to prepare by bringing consolation and spiritual peace.
Poppy Mardall, Founder and Director, Poppy's Funerals
Poppy is a multi award-winning, progressive funeral director, based in London. A former Samaritan and Trinity Hospice volunteer, Poppy was appointed a Trustee of Cruse Bereavement Care in 2015.
Paul attended his first Death Cafe in 2014. Since then each subsequent Death Cafe he's attended - along with the other events he's been to which have sought to open up the dialogue around death and dying - have confirmed for him the worth in the idea that if death and dying are discussed in a frank and open way as possible it might just lead to a better appreciation of life and living.
Debbie Howard, Filmmaker, Big Buddha Films
Debbie makes films and documentaries. For the last few years she has been focusing on stillbirth and baby loss. She made a short film called Peekaboo and a feature documentary, Still Loved, both of which looked at the effects of baby death on a family. Still Loved has gone onto receive great critical acclaim and win several awards. It has helped break down the terrible stigma and silence around baby loss. The film is now available on line, on DVD or group screenings. You can find out more and watch a trailer on the website here.
Susan Parris, Executive Director, Brattleboro Area Hospice, Vermont USA
Susan has been the Executive Director of a volunteer hospice in Vermont for 21 years. The hospice is one of only 200 volunteer hospices left in the US that goes above and beyond the 'normal' hospice and grief services in the US. Their bereavement services are the most comprehensive in the state. The hospice held the first death cafe in Vermont, provides art & writing classes and performances on death, dying & grief. Their singing group Hallowell has trained other groups around the country. In the last few of years Susan has become curious about how to encourage the community to become more comfortable with exploring mortality. This year she started a project called A Year Well Lived to encourage people to finally do the things they keep putting off so they will die with less regret.
Alex Long, Soulful Ceremonies
Alex is a musician, a celebrant and an edge dweller - a woman interested in people and the stories they hold and in giving them the voice to share them through ceremony and ritual in whatever way feels right for them. She would like to give funerals and death back to the people and the communities they live in by responding directly to their unique needs.
Charlie Tuesday Gates, Artist, Taxidermist and Performance Artist
Charlie Tuesday Gates is an international artist with a reputation for unique and challenging sculpture, video and performance art that confronts, questions and challenges issues of morality, ethics and the very nature of controversy itself.
Art awakens the senses & brings darkness to light, exposing the cracks in humanity & even questioning the very principles that underpin our reality- The reality of death and the illusion of life.
'Sing For Your Life' was a multi award winning musical starring dead animal puppets, a hilariously disturbing and hard hitting political comedy dubbed 'The greatest show that ever died."
er pioneering D.I.Y Taxidermy Live provoked disgust, fear, hilarity and a sense of the tragic as she embraced an entirely new medium of workshops and live demonstrations that simply didn’t exist before.
The Flower Appreciation Society, Florists
The Flower Appreciation Society make funeral flowers for people who have loved their gardens, and love flowers. They bring their wild, natural approach to funeral arrangements, hoping the beauty of them makes the day a tiny bit easier.
Jane Robinson, Manager, Leeds Bereavement Forum
Leeds Bereavement Forum is a small charity which works to develop and improve bereavement services in the city to signpost individuals to the most appropriate bereavement service either locally or nationally and to provide training, information, events and conferences to people who work in the area of bereavement to support their professional development. The charity works in partnership with organisations across the city to improve the provision of bereavement services and also campaigns to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement and to make plans for the end of life.
Megan Devine, Founder, Refuge in Grief
A Pacific Northwest writer, speaker, and grief advocate, she currently runs Refuge In Grief, a hub of grief education and outreach, where she leads people through some of the most devastating times of their lives. Together with her team, she facilitates a growing catalog of courses, events, and trainings to help grieving people, and those who wish to support them, learn the skills they need to carry pain that cannot be fixed.
Megan has been featured widely in the media, including Huffington Post, Modern Loss, and The Manifest-Station, and in dozens of podcasts and radio appearances.
Jo Loveridge, Owner & Funeral Director, Albany Funerals
Concerned by how many mediocre funerals were being served up to people at their most vulnerable time, Jo was determined to give people access to simple, straightforward and well-informed guidance to create funerals and celebrations together that are truly personal and also affordable. She founded Albany Funerals – and created a beautiful place to come to that feels like home, where she supports grieving families and friends through the whole process, taking all the time they need – never pushing choices. This support carries on for as long as it is needed, often years later!
AJ Lilian Menashe, Jewish Lay Leader, Community of Living Traditions (an intentional community hosted by Stony Point Center
AJ Lilian Menashe coordinates Death Cafes and the Aural History Tradition program; she teaches Torah and focuses on Jewish perspectives in relation to the environment. She will be starting chaplaincy training this fall, focusing on the death and dying life cycle.
Dr Phil Isherwood - The Hospice Poet
Dr Phil Isherwood has been volunteering since 2010 as the ‘hospice poet’ – writing poems inspired by conversations with patients and by their creative work in the Creative Therapy Department at Bolton Hospice. He was awarded his PhD at the University of Bolton for ‘Numinous Connections: Poetry in the Hospice’ in July 2015. Earlier poetry work has involved writing workshops in mental illness recovery settings (community arts and hospital secure units) and at a brain injuries centre during his part-time studies for an MA in Creative Writing completed in 2005. His poems have appeared in various publications including Stand, Hot Wire, The Ugly Tree, ReSource Magazine and on local radio. Phil is also a church leader at Sports Village Church in Leigh, Lancashire (a CofE ‘Fresh Expressions’ outreach).
@poetrymeta4life and @hospicepoet
Dr Hannah Rumble (FHEA), Senior Research Associate, University of Bristol
Hannah is a social anthropologist interested in death, dying and disposal. Her research explores contemporary innovations and cultural change concerning human and nonhuman animal corpse disposal and funerary practices in Europe - for example, 'natural burial', as well as working with colleagues at the Centre for Death and Society at Bath University on policy issues related to 'funeral poverty' and 'direct cremation'. She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses on death, dying and bereavement at a number of universities, is the Early Career Researcher's Representative for the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS) and sits on the Editorial Board of the journal Mortality. She regularly organises public engagement events around death and dying, which to date, has seen her perform stand-up comedy about how we die and grieve today.
Debbie Jones, Independent Funeral Organiser & Celebrant
As a funeral organiser and celebrant, Debbie feels it is important to gently offer the whole range of options when supporting those with whom she is co-creating each funeral, sharing her knowledge and expertise and dispelling misunderstandings and myths. She also aims to skilfully guide anyone who wishes to, to think about and plan for their own funeral, focussing on their significant life events and any messages they wish to leave for those left behind. offer Debbie offers person-centred, bespoke ceremonies for all.
Sarah Kingham, Writer & Artist
Sarah is a writer, artist, and academic based in London. She is currently in the process of completing her MA in Cultural and Critical Studies at Birkbeck, alongside working at the Warburg Institute and in the Stores of the Science Museum. Her work on the ‘ruination’ of former NHS buildings will be featured in Birkbeck’s upcoming ‘Being Human’ Exhibition in November. She spoke on the personification of ‘Death’ in European art at Life.Death.Whatever at Sutton House in 2016.
David O'Driscoll, Psychotherapist NHS
David is a NHS psychoanalytic psychotherapist specialising in loss and bereavement and people with learning disability. He is also Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire and chair of two groups whose aim is to provide and promote psychodynamic psychotherapy with people with learning disabilities, the Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability (IPD), and the Associate for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the NHS (APP). He teaches widely on loss and bereavement and has written a number of papers on this subject, in particularly for the nursing journals.
Lea Gscheidel, Funeral Director at Charon Bestattungen in Berlin
Lea is the next generation in her father's small alternative funeral home in Berlin. Lea continues to work with the values of Charon Bestattungen and is adjusting them to the perspective of her generation. The emphasis of her work is on funerals for babies and children. In her work the leading questions are: How to encourage this particular family to actively go their own individual way - until the funeral, on the day of the funeral and for the rest of their lives? How to make time and space for a journey that is hard but healing for those involved?