A unique collection of humanist funeral tributes

Because every human life is unique. And every humanist funeral is too.

The stories contained within the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive are from real people, donated by their families so that future generations can better know those who touched our lives, the things we did, and the ones we loved.

This unique portal into past generations is possible because humanist ceremonies have been around for at least 120 years, and in that time they’ve been the most personal, bespoke, and unique way to mark the life of someone who has died.

Sometimes the people we write tributes for are well known, sometimes they have had remarkable achievements, sometimes they have been essentially private people who have lived their lives far from the public gaze, but all of them are deserving of a story well told.

Felicity Harvest, Humanist Celebrant
Your story is our story


Stories detailed in the Humanist Funeral Tribute Archive feature people from all walks of life. Below are just six of the more than 400 to be found in the Archive.

One of the first scientists to write about the effects of climate change

Professor David Glyn Vaughan was a glacier geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, and led the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). He was appointed OBE for his services to glaciology.

A lifelong campaigner for a fairer world

Judith Elizabeth Hanna was an activist, working for organisations including CND and the Commission for Racial Equality CRE. She also initiated seed swaps, and organised people locally to plant and care for neglected areas of land.

A quiet and constructive life

Lancelot Melbourne was a porter at the Vale of Glamorgan’s Sully Hospital for almost 40 years. Remembered as quiet and easygoing from childhood, he was nonetheless ‘not backwards in coming forwards’, but nor did he bear a grudge.

From WW2 Land Girl to ‘Hells Granny’ on a moped

Whitechapel-born Peggy Newman described herself as a true cockney, being born within earshot of Bow
Bells. She embraced life as a Land Girl during the Second World War, enlisting at 17, and retained a lifelong love of tending to animals and gardens. She was married to Les—who she’d met at the beginning of the war—for 63 years.

Nearly ninety years in the cottage of his birth

Joey Thomas McKeown was born in the village of Aghalee, Northern Ireland in 1934. He had just turned 87 when he died unexpectedly in 2021, still living in the same weaver’s cottage where he was born. For his whole life he refused to have a telephone, preferring to leave the talking to the poets and to Dickens, who he loved to read.

Courage, creativity, and connection

In 1939, aged 12, Wolfgang Marc Schatzberger escaped Vienna on the Kindertransport. He had a successful career in engineering, and in retirement became a violin-maker and school speaker on Jewish persecution. In 2020, he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Holocaust Education and Awareness.


Anyone who owns a tribute or script from a humanist funeral conducted by a Humanists UK celebrant can add their loved one’s tribute to the Archive. It is estimated that as many as one million people in the UK could have something to add.

If you have a tribute to add, speak to the celebrant who led the ceremony. And if you have any questions about the Archive, then you can get in touch by emailing ceremonies-archive@humanists.uk.

Real people, real stories

It’s often said after humanist funerals that mourners come away feeling like they know more about their loved ones, and feeling even more appreciation for them, than they did going in.

Now that same richness and understanding—contained in the funeral tribute—will help historians better understand the past through the stories of the people who lived and died in the UK.

Timeless memories

As humanists, we focus on shaping our own lives in the here and now because we believe it’s the only life we have. When we die, we live on mainly in the memories of others. These memories and stories come to the fore at a humanist funeral, painting a vivid picture of the life of the person who has died.

By donating copies of your humanist funeral tributes to the archive, you can help those vivid memories of your loved ones to live on forever.