Humanists mark historic day as first humanist takes part in National Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph

11 November, 2018

Non-religious armed forces personnel will be officially represented alongside religious representatives at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph today, in a historic day for humanists.

Humanists UK and its armed forces section, Defence Humanists, will be represented at the London ceremony by Chief Executive Andrew Copson, after it was announced last month that a humanist representative would be invited for the first time after years of campaigning by Humanists UK and Defence Humanists.

It will also be the first time that a Wales humanist representative will take part in the Welsh national service. Lorraine Barrett, the former AM who conducted the First Minister of Wales’ funeral last year, will represent Wales Humanists in Cardiff.

More than a quarter of serving members of the armed forces describe themselves as having ‘no religion’ but, until now, they have not been officially recognised at the National Remembrance Day ceremony despite religious representatives having an official spot at the commemorations.

Representatives from Northern Ireland Humanists will be taking part in the official ceremony in Belfast and Humanist Society Scotland’s John Bishop will be representing the non-religious at the official ceremony in Edinburgh.

Humanists UK has a proud history of advocating for inclusive public ceremonies that are equally inclusive of all faiths and none. For many years Humanists UK and Defence Humanists ran ‘For All Who Serve’ to campaign for a 21st century remembrance.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said: 

‘Today is a hugely special day for humanist representatives across the UK. We are honoured to represent non-religious armed forces personnel who have given tremendous sacrifices in serving their country in conflict and war.

‘We believe that it is vital that we equally honour everyone who gave their lives in military service regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs. It has also been deeply moving that families of personnel have been in touch with us in recent weeks expressing how delighted they were that their loved ones would be properly honoured and represented at this year’s ceremonies.’

Last month when the announcement of the first humanist representative being invited to take part was made, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said:  

‘A significant number of people serving in Britain’s military do not prescribe to a particular faith, but many of these will associate with humanist beliefs. It is important that in our quest to create a National Remembrance Service which is reflective of modern Britain, that major belief systems are recognised as well as faiths, including the humanists.’

Humanists UK will continue to urge that remembrance services across the UK should be secular and fully inclusive occasions.


For more information, contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read our news item from October:

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaign work on Remembrance:

Visit the For All Who Serve campaign’s website:

Read more about Defence Humanists:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.