Dorothy Nowak

Wedding & Civil Partnership, Naming & Welcoming and Funeral Ceremonies

About

My Background
I started my working life as a primary school teacher and then moved into charity fundraising which was my main career for over 20 years. I had the great good fortune to work for some of the world’s leading charitable organisations helping them to raise the vital funds for their tremendous efforts worldwide. It was a real privilege to be involved in such work. In my long career I have also taught adults with learning difficulties and dance and exercise to women who want to have a bit of fun and let off steam. I love music and dance and have in my time managed a small band of musicians to play concerts and at festivals. My mid life crisis involved opening a Polish restaurant, with no experience, but I followed a dream. I enjoy making people happy by giving them good food and am proud of my Polish heritage and love Polish food! A wonderful, but exhausting experience.

Now at a slightly slower pace I love walking and exploring Scotland in my small, old but perfectly formed camper van, with my dog. But I still teach belly dancing, it keeps me fit and makes me smile.

For me being a Humanist is more than not believing in a god and all that goes with that, but it is about believing in humanity. We can be responsible for our actions, we can be compassionate and good moral beings without a deity to answer to. All living things are a part of the great and truly awesome cycle of life and nature and that includes human beings. We are no more or less important than any other part of that cycle, but we do have a responsibility of care for each other and for every living thing. And walking in the stunning countryside of this beautiful country only goes to reinforce my humanist beliefs.

Being a humanist celebrant is truly a privilege, we are invited into people’s hearts and minds to help them through the most important rites of passage in life, birth, marriage and death, some of course more joyous than others. When I meet people for all of those ceremonies I never fail to be struck by their capacity for love and sheer joy and also by the strength people can demonstrate at the most challenging moments of their lives. I have learned a great deal not only about human nature but also about myself, learning from the people I meet along the way.

Wedding & Civil Partnership Ceremonies

Until I became a celebrant I didn't know that such weddings were possible. Real weddings, where the couple are the focus of the ceremony. It is such a significant day in a couple's life, a major step. Humanist weddings recognise that and celebrate it in such a personal way and that means that the real significance of the marriage ceremony is fully embraced.

I love learning about my couples and really feel privileged that they share their feelings with me. It is so important to me that the ceremony truly reflects the couple and their relationship. I always say 'it is your ceremony and I am here to help you create the ceremony that is just right for you'. I guide them through every step of the way. I hope that their marriage ceremony is the highlight of their wedding day - full of joy and celebration as well as the serious matter of the ‘solemnisation of marriage’ and all the promises for the future that they make.

When thinking about what to include in their ceremony, I encourage my couples to keep it real, to really focus on the day to day reality of their relationship, what in that makes them so good together. In there you find joy and laughter as well as real companionship, strength and commitment. The ceremony is a culmination of their time spent together considering their relationship, each other and their future together, therefore

It is wonderful that every ceremony I do is so different, because every couple is different, but what is true about them all is that they love each other and want to make a real commitment to each other and they are full of hope for their future together. To be a part of that is just fantastic.... it keeps me young and full of the joy of living!!!

Naming & Welcoming Ceremonies

Naming ceremonies are fantastic, exhausting... there are always loads of children, all high as kites and having a ball. But that's what the ceremony is about, celebrating the joy of a new young life in the world. The start of an epic journey for a tiny helpless human! It’s about reflecting on their hopes and dreams for the future and recognising the baby's uniqueness.

I see my role as a celebrant is to guide the parents and help them create a ceremony that truly reflects the way they wish to welcome and to celebrate the arrival of their child, whether it be when the child is still a baby or when they are a little older and able to understand better the significance of the ceremony. With a baby naming ceremony there are often so many people, family especially, who are involved in the baby’s life, whether it be grandparents, aunts and uncles or guideparents, it is important to recognise that they too will be involved in the child’s life and so help them to feel involved in the ceremony.

And yes there are occasions when a child’s life is fragile from the start, and then the ceremony is much about the hopes for the future, about the support and the love that everyone gathered together has, for both the child and the parents. It is a precious time for parents, when they realize there are so many people around them, to offer them the love and the support they may so desperately need in times to come.

It’s such a privilege to talk to new parents about their child, about their love, their hopes and fears and their promises to their little one. I remember well how I felt when my children were born. Your life changes forever at that moment, for me to be invited to part of that with new parents… well it’s an understatement to say that it is a privilege!

Funeral Ceremonies

How I feel about being a Funeral Celebrant?
First and foremost I feel honoured that people put their trust and confidence in me to help them through one of the most difficult events in their lives. It is a huge responsibility to ensure that any persons’ life is remembered and celebrated with compassion and dignity. I am proud to be part of a group that have the same guiding principles and who take on this responsibility with so much thought and care.

My Approach to Funerals
I know that bereavement is a most difficult and surreal time for anyone. It’s like being in a bad dream. My approach must be to give a helping hand to the bereaved in this fog and I take on the responsibility of guiding them towards the good memories, to take them a little from grieving, towards the appreciation of and celebration of a life. I do this gently and with patience because I understand that it is not an easy process. I want to learn as much as I can from the family about the life and character of the deceased, so that I can paint a good picture of their loved one and celebrate who they were. That way I would hope that family and friends will leave the ceremony with some sense of gladness for a life as well as the sadness of their loss.

What Do I find Most Rewarding about conducting a funeral?
That people will entrust their most precious memories to me. When those close to the deceased person tell me that the ceremony truly reflects the life and character of their loved one, that is rewarding. When I know that I have helped and given some comfort to people through their loss in some small way, even by raising a smile or two during the ceremony, I am satisfied.

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