How one daughter is preparing a ‘celebration of life’ for her mother - while she is still alive

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Lorna Cooper, the daughter of Monica Ward - the former head teacher at Chickenley Infant and Nursery School in Dewsbury - is preparing to celebrate her ‘lovely’ mother’s life - while she is still alive.

Lorna, who works as a celebrant in Derbyshire, carries out non-religious ‘celebration of life’ funerals, where people can celebrate a person's life while they are still alive.

Over the last eight years, Lorna's 85 year-old mother, Monica, has battled with Parkinson’s disease. To lift her spirits, Lorna is now planning a ‘celebration of life’ service for her, while she is still around to enjoy and appreciate it.

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The celebration of life, which will take place on October 8, will include an order of service, pictures, tributes and live music.

Eighty-five year-old Monica Ward.Eighty-five year-old Monica Ward.
Eighty-five year-old Monica Ward.

Lorna said: “I often find that families say to me,’they would have loved this’ or ‘I wish they could have heard all the amazing things said today’.

“So on that note I have decided to hold a ‘celebration of life’ whilst my lovely mother is still alive.

"We won’t be having a funeral when she dies, just a private scattering of her ashes.

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“As far as I’m aware this hasn’t really been done in this country and I hope to be in the forefront of its growth.”

Monica Ward with her grandchildren Charlie and Grace.Monica Ward with her grandchildren Charlie and Grace.
Monica Ward with her grandchildren Charlie and Grace.

Lorna hopes that old pupils from Chickenley Infant and Nursery School - where Monica was head teacher between 1981 and 1996 - may attend the day.

Lorna added: “She was hugely passionate about the role and was a real champion of the children there who struggled with disadvantages from an early age.

“She was instrumental in inviting parents to be involved in the school and its activities, she got nursery nurses to go into the community to meet pre-school children and support the parents - as many struggled - and got a pharmacy on-site.

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“I remember going on school trips with the kids to the seaside. Many had never been on holiday and this was a special time.

“She absolutely devoted her life to the school and I know she was much loved and respected.”

The celebration of Monica’s life will take place on Saturday, October 8, at The Royal British Legion on St Mary’s Street in Penniston, Sheffield, from noon until 3pm.