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Northern Ireland Humanists celebrant to take part in Northern Ireland’s Thought for the Day for the first time

Tomorrow (Wednesday 22 September) Janni Knox will be the first Northern Ireland Humanists voice to take part in Northern Ireland’s Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Ulster.

Janni is a Northern Ireland Humanists weddings, namings, and funerals celebrant based in Belfast. Her contribution will be focused on the Balmoral Show. It marks the start of a series of Northern Ireland Humanists contributions going out throughout September, October, and November.

There has only ever previously been one non-religious contribution to Thought for the Day in Northern Ireland. Ruth Yeo recorded the one-off contribution in 2016. Humanists have long pressed for the right to regularly share their views on Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Four, and elsewhere. In 2018, 33 high profile humanists wrote an open letter to the BBC calling for humanist voices to be included on the programme on BBC Radio Four.

In a nutshell, humanists are those who put human beings and other living things at the centre of their moral outlook. They see the world as a natural place and look to science and reason to make sense of it. And they promote and support human flourishing across all frontiers, championing human rights for everyone. The most recent Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey found a record number of the population now belong to no religion, at 27%, up from 12% a decade ago. It is thought that around half of them share the humanist outlook on life, and this is reflected in the surging popularity of humanist ceremonies since humanist marriages gained legal recognition in Northern Ireland in 2018.

Humanist celebrant Janni Knox commented:

‘I’m delighted and proud to be the first Northern Ireland Humanists voice on the BBC’s Thought for the Day in Northern Ireland. Humanists are people who shape their own lives in the here and now, because it’s the only life we know of. That outlook on life does not mean that our lives are devoid of meaning. That’s why I am a full-time celebrant. As humanists we have thousands of years of moral and ethical thinking to draw upon to shape our reflections on the issues of our day.’

Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator commented:

‘It’s a great moment for Northern Ireland as we mark the first Northern Ireland Humanists voice on Thought for the Day, and the first in a planned series at that. This reflects the growing contribution and visibility of the non-religious in Northern Ireland – we are the fastest-growing segment of the population.

‘Northern Ireland is also ahead of the curve, with the UK as a whole now needing to catch up. We call on BBC Radio Four to likewise move with the times and allow humanists to take part in their Thought for the Day!’


For further comment or information, media should contact Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator at or phone 07918 975795.

Janni Knox’s contribution can be heard around 06:50 and again on BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle at 07:50, during Good Morning Ulster and The Breakfast Show on Wednesday 22 September.

Read more about our work on broadcasting:

Read the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey:

Northern Ireland Humanists is part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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