Guest Blog By Diane McLeish

Celebrating Family – In Honour of New Beginnings

Did you know there are some very human ways to have a naming or welcoming ceremony?

I love them! They instantly give a sense of connecting and magical passion to life.

Hello, I’m Diane Mcleish Humanist Celebrant. I’m a mum, a Nana, a happily committed partner to Graham and an incurable optimist I am a lady who loves. My home in Blair Atholl, set deep in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park in Perthshire. Walks, muddy runs and adventures. Good food. Scottish traditions. Mountains, tall trees, rivers and wild fresh air. But above all, people. Next to life itself, my daily bread is my fellow beings. My heart is at its best when connecting with others.

Treating people with respect, concern and being happy and bringing happiness to others is important to me. I’m grateful for all the people who have come into my life and provided a helping hand, emotional space or shared with me, love, kindness, compassion, integrity, wisdom, or simply friendship, which is what really makes everything worthwhile.

It’s no small wonder then, since retiring from the NHS I have become a registered celebrant with the Humanist Society Scotland, the national charity close to my heart campaigning for a fairer world. Every day, in all walks of life and across the country, its members work to build an ethical, rational, secular society for all. Compassion and fairness rule.

As long as there have been human beings, there have been people whose views of the world can be described as ‘Humanists’. Non-religious, informed by evidence, inspired by empathy, and infused with hope and wonder for the world around them. They also place human welfare and happiness at the centre of decision making.

Celebrating lives according to those that live them

At a Humanist Naming or Welcoming ceremony, the society’s philosophy comes alive for all to see. In an ever-more democratic world, it’s no surprise that they’re gaining popularity year on year. They’re a direct alternative to a traditional baptism: the marking of a rite of passage and new beginnings in a way that can be sensed, felt and seen.

The Ceremony is such a fabulous, fun occasion, a chance to bring people together to celebrate, express hopes, wishes and dreams as you look to a future and all the possibilities that will unfold in that lifetime.

To me, celebrating a new addition to the world, or just changing the name of someone who’s been there for a while, means creating a ceremony that touches everyone close to them. It”s meaningful and memorable for everyone involved and is a beautiful and personal way of formally welcoming or celebrating new beginnings.

Ceremonies are for anyone. New babies, toddlers, blending of families, formalising an adoption, adolescents and adults transitioning gender or who just want to change their name, all need uniting with their families. Age, persuasion and reason don’t count. We have the freedom to change our names or how we identify ourselves at any stage of life, so why not celebrate these personal transitions too?.

Ceremonies are all about you and your family and are crafted to reflect what’s important to you. I start by getting to know you, your family, your stories. I learn about your dreams, hopes and desires.Your fulfilment of an ambition. Anything that matters in a life.

Creativity plus Humanity equals Memory

I will guide, advise and give you ideas of all the possibilities available. Ceremonies are hand-crafted to people, not from a manual. In other words, how we craft the ceremony is down to you!

So naturally. a Naming or Welcoming ceremony is as creative and imaginative as it is meaningful. In truth, everything’s possible, and I can make it happen. Music, colour, poetry, readings. Parent and guide parent promises or commitments.Symbolic gestures like sand ceremonies, hand and foot prints, family hand-fastings, memory boxes, planting trees, drinking from a quaich or lighting candles. Simple or intricate. Immense or intimate.

A ceremony, too, can involve siblings, extended family, friends, guide parents or mentors. Those who mean the most. They can read, sing, make promises, state their commitments. And it can happen where the mood takes them. From the house and back garden to a park, a beach and beyond. Anywhere that makes your celebration special to you.

The possibilities have no end. It’s as unique as you and your personalities, needs and emotions. There’s a beautiful way to celebrate everyone. It’s a question of finding it.

In short, my ceremonies are as bespoke as you are.

My formal, personally-written part of the ceremony usually lasts about 20 or 30 minutes. And along with a keepsake copy of the script you will also be given your signed naming ceremony certificate.

Whether it’s a small family gathering at your house or a full-on knees-up in a large venue, we can work together to make your naming or welcoming ceremony a magical occasion. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the moment!

In essence, we’re creating a special day in a family’s social history. A ceremony we write and conceive together, true to everyone, to be read, remembered and treasured by sons, daughters, partners, friends for years to come. Even over generations.”

Humanist Society Scotland

Arranging a Ceremony

If you want to know more you can email or call 07427668145 to discuss any aspect of a ceremony or start to plan one. I would be happy to meet with you to hear your story, discuss what you would like, offer advice and guidance to provide a memorable ceremony that perfectly reflects you. I am happy to travel. You can read my profile and learn more about the Society and the various ceremonies conducted, such as weddings and funerals on the charities own site at

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