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AOIC membership continues to grow

A former teacher is one of the latest celebrants to join the Association of Independent Celebrants, (AOIC).

The professional association has welcomed Wendi Surtees-Smith – taking its overall membership to 110.

Born just a stone’s throw from the River Mersey, in Liverpool, Wendi was trained by Civil Ceremonies Ltd and conducts ceremonies across Merseyside and Cheshire. Her work also takes her as far a-field as Devon.

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With her background in education, Wendi is now using the skills in her past profession to help her in her new role: “I have taught in both mainstream and special educational needs schools for over 20 years.

“As a celebrant, I can bring the interpersonal skills I have developed over the years and use them to help clients navigate their way through getting the best ceremony for themselves or their loved ones,” explains Wendi.

Her own life experiences have also helped her develop her understanding. She adds: “Losing both my parents within days of each other gave me an insight into what a bereaved person or family may need during a deeply difficult time.

“As a celebrant, I have the privilege of working with people to create and deliver personalised ceremonies for their significant life events.”

Wendi joins the AOIC ahead of its first two-day conference, which is being held in late October – and she will not have to travel very far, as the venue is in Liverpool.

The weekend event, on October 28 and 29, at the city’s Crowne Plaza Hotel will feature speeches and sessions from industry leaders. Meanwhile details of the Association’s unique mentoring scheme will also be highlighted to members.

Leading member Debbie Brooke explains: “With the number of celebrants increasing across the country, it is important that those new to the profession, and to our organisation, know they have support and access to advice.

“The reality of dealing with certain situations can sometimes be a little different to what is expected, and sometimes a listening ear from someone more experienced is what is needed. That is why the Association is keen to develop the mentoring scheme it already has in place,” she added.

Bookings for association members at the conference are still being taken, and can be made at

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