Meet the Team

AltarNatives believe that getting the right celebrant is the most important decision you will make when marking events in your life. Over the course of writing and performing your ceremony we will spend lots of time together and so we thought you might like to get to know us a bit better.

Samantha Edmundson (Sam)

Sam is a Family and Funeral Celebrant, Therapeutic Coach and Yoga Instructor. Having spent her career helping other people be heard, being a celebrant is second nature to Sam. A gifted writer and creative soul, Sam will help you have a ceremony that will not easily be forgotten. 

 

To hear about Sam in her own words, click “more info”.

Hi, my name is Samantha, Sam for short. Paul and I have been together since 2010, although we met four years before that when Paul interviewed me for a job as an Advocate! Paul and I live in a small cottage in a village in Bedfordshire with our two cats, Atticus and Esmerelda. Between us we have five grown up children, as well as vast numbers of grandchildren who are scattered across the country and one child living in Canada.

Over the last 20 years I’ve been working directly with people in the public and charity sectors, which I’ve loved. A few years ago, Paul and I decided we wanted to work together so, after a period of travel in our old motorhome Bessie, we trained to become celebrants, along with our friend Lara. 

The training we received from the UK Society of Celebrants (UKSOC) reignited my interest in crafting words, which I use when preparing ceremonies. It also unleashed a new-found creative streak which I’ve put to use in many new and inventive ways, to add the special touches which make each ceremony unique.

I will work closely with you so that I understand exactly what you want from your ceremony. My aim is to prepare and deliver a meaningful, beautiful ceremony which reflects the personalities of the people involved. I am keen to help you mark any milestone or occasion in whichever way would be most significant for you.

As well as spending time with my nearest and dearest, my other interests include yoga and meditation (practicing and teaching), reading for personal development and pleasure, walking and spending time in nature. I am a qualified Fusion Therapeutic Coach and I volunteer for TreeSisters, a charity which promotes tree planting worldwide and feminine nature-based leadership.

If you’d like to discuss your ceremony requirements please feel free to contact me by email to samantha.e@uksoc.com or on my mobile number 07581 431425.

Paul Standbrook​

Paul is a Family and Funeral Celebrant, MC and Therapeutic Coach. Paul has dedicated much of his life to supporting people. His work in the voluntary and community sector has given him the empathy needed to really listen and understand your needs along with the creative speaking skills to make your ceremony truly special.

To hear about Paul  in his own words, click “more info”.

Hello, I’m Paul Standbrook and I’m Dad and Grandad to a close-knit, large extended family. I live with my partner Sam (see above!) in a little cottage in the country and she and I share long experience of providing support at important times in people’s lives. Over the last twenty years I have developed a keen interest in people and in the way in which key events impact their lives. I have become very aware of the difference an effective Celebrant can make to any milestone you may wish to celebrate, whether that’s a coming-of-age, a wedding or union, welcoming a new life or saying goodbye to a loved one.  My many personal and professional experiences in working closely and effectively with people as they navigate some of the happiest, saddest or most challenging times in their lives has given me a great satisfaction in what I do. Working in this way continues to be a huge privilege and is the reason I chose to become a Celebrant.

I have had a long and varied career and for the last twenty years I have worked and volunteered in a range of charities focussed on supporting people. My personal and professional experiences have given me some real insights into the issues people face and the importance of making sure that those key events in your life are well organised and deeply meaningful, accurately capturing your thoughts, ideas and wishes and creating powerful lasting memories. My learning and experiences have given me a deep empathy for the human condition so that I can help you clarify what is most important to you, ensuring that your wishes are always paramount and that you always feel fully in control of the process.

I tailor my services in line with your wishes and I am happy to offer whatever level of service you need, from simple advice and background support to complete preparation, management and delivery of your ceremony. I have worked with a diverse selection of people and I have organised, hosted and spoken at a wide range of events. This has given me a comprehensive toolkit of skills which I can put to good use to make sure that everyone involved in creating your ceremony is well informed of your wishes and that we all work together as a team to deliver the results you want.

I very much look forward to working with you, now or in the future, to create the perfect ceremony for you or your loved ones. Please feel free to contact me by 

email: paul.standbrook@uksoc.com or telephone my mobile:  07534 151166

Lara Norris

Lara is a Family and Funeral Celebrant living and working in France. Lara’s work in the political and charity sector have meant that she is very creative and sometimes quirky in her approach to celebrancy.

To hear about Lara in her own words, click “more info”.

Bonjour! My name is Lara; and I am a Family and Funeral Celebrant based in France. I live in rural Normandy with my alpacas, kittens and chickens. Not to forget my wonderful Husband Paul who I married right here in France. 

I come from an enormous and close family. You can be sure that I have been to more than my fair share of weddings and funerals (not to mention christenings and other events)

Frankly, they just seemed to be the same. Something you had to get through to ‘qualify’ for the party afterwards. Two remarkable celebrants convinced me that this did not have to be the case and that is why I am a family and funeral celebrant today. 

A celebrant should allow you to have a ceremony that means something to you. A ceremony that is right for your family. A wedding that reflects who you are as a couple. A funeral that truly celebrates the life and the character of the person you loved. 

I only want to perform ceremonies that are as individual and special as ‘the dress’, the flowers, the venue and you. You deserve nothing less. 

I have had an amazing career working for over 25 years in community and politics.  I had the challenge of leading charities through difficult times and the honour of working in the UK Parliament. Now however, I realise that as well as being rewarding these experiences were also a giant training course, helping to make me a better celebrant.

I know the importance of attention to detail. Working in Parliament meant working to the highest standard all of the time. I believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing to the best of your abilities. I only strive for excellence and never accept mediocre. 

I have helped organise hundreds of events including a garden party for a Prime Minister, an international celebration of the life of a radio hero and a christmas party for over 100 children and their families.  Whatever the event, whoever it is for, having excellent organisational skills makes it special. 

Some of most rewarding moments have been supporting families, especially with the wonderful charity Home-Start. Really listening to what people need and want, helping them, through hard times means I not only listen, but hear you.

A big part of my career has been about being creative.  Trying new things and not being afraid to be different. I love bringing that creativity to celebrancy and making every celebration different and special, and sometimes quirky.

Paul Norris

Paul N is the technical and administrative hero of the team. Living in France Paul is happier behind the scenes of your celebration. He is the person that makes sure there are no technical hitches EVER (only matrimonial ones) 

A lifetime’s experience as an aeronautical engineer and as an artisan upcycler means there is nothing he cannot turn his hand to making, creating and inventing to make your ceremony dreams a technical reality.

To hear about Paul in his own words, click “more info”.

Coming soon!

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