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Bursary launched in honour of humanist ceremonies pioneer as she retires from Birmingham Humanists Committee

Photo used with permission of Ruth Willson

A new bursary has been launched to honour Jane Wynne Willson, author and patron of Humanists UK, who stepped down from the Committee of Birmingham Humanists on Sunday. To mark the occasion, a celebrant training bursary was launched in her honour.

The Jane Wynne Willson Celebrant Training Bursary, provided by Birmingham Humanists and Humanists UK, is worth £1,000 and will be awarded once a year. It will be given to applicants who either reside in, or have a strong connection with the West Midlands. The bursary will give preference to applicants from low-income backgrounds and groups that are currently under-represented in the Humanists UK celebrant network.

Jane is best known within the humanist movement for her engaging and popular books on humanist ceremonies that have had a huge influence on the development and growth of humanist ceremonies since their publication. Her books include Funerals Without God, first published in 1989, and now on its sixth edition; Sharing the Future, on weddings and civil partnerships, first published in 1988; and New Arrivals, on baby namings, first published in 1991. Years on, the books are indispensable practical guides to non-religious and humanist ceremonies. Their enormous influence has made Jane the progenitor of non-religious ceremonies across the UK today.

Beyond her writing, Jane has been involved in the humanist movement locally, nationally, and internationally since the 1960s, including being Chair of Humanists UK from 1989 to 1992, and is also a former Vice President. She was one of the three chairs of the then International Humanist and Ethical Union (now Humanists International) from 1993 to 1996 and was Vice President until 2002.

Sarah Robbins, Chair of Birmingham Humanists, commented:

‘We’re delighted to recognise Jane’s huge contribution to the humanist movement with the introduction of the Jane Wynne Willson Celebrant Training Bursary. For years, Jane has been a pivotal humanist figure locally, nationally, and even internationally. Through her brilliant work she has inspired many celebrants and the countless ceremonies they have conducted.’

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK said:

‘Jane is a humanist hero to all who know her, including to me ever since I first met her when joining Humanists UK many years ago. Her complete integrity and relentless optimism inspire all who have been lucky enough to work alongside her.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Public Affairs Manager Karen Wright via 07946443159 or

Read more about Jane Wynne Willson here:

Read more about humanist ceremonies here:

Birmingham Humanists is a partner group of Humanists UK first founded in 1962.

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