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Isabel and Fran

Isabel Russo

Fran Hall

"I’ve been CEO of the Good Funeral Guide CIC since 2016, during which time I’ve continued the ground-breaking work of Charles Cowling, ensuring that the GFG is recognised as both the leading independent observer of the funeral sector, and a source of impartial advice and support for the public. Our website is full of information intended to empower bereaved people, and we are actively involved in current policy change at the highest level of government.
Before my appointment at GFG, my career in funerals spanned almost two decades as both funeral director and manager of the three largest natural burial grounds in the UK.  I was awarded the Scales Award, given to the most outstanding student nationally to qualify as a  funeral director that year, and I was a trustee of the Natural Death Centre Charity for several years.
Since 2021, following the death of my husband, Steve Mead from Covid-19, I have carried out a large amount of media appearances as a spokesperson for the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, also writing extensively about my personal experience. I continue to lead the volunteer team at the National Covid Memorial Wall and am intricately involved with plans for this iconic memorial to be made permanent. 
Having spent so many years immersed in all aspects of the funeral industry, I have a deep insight into the way that we do funerals in the UK  - and into the areas where we could do things so much better. There is an urgent need to bring change and wisdom into this space, and this is what Isabel and I are seeking to do with our workshops and coaching sessions.
Our teaching of ‘The Power of Liminal Time’ addresses this gap in our collective willingness to face death and offers gentle insight and guidance to help us navigate the experience of someone we love dying with grace, confidence and humility. 
I truly believe this work is absolutely essential for a heathier, happier society – if we are better prepared to meet death when it touches our lives, then we can live our lives fully while we can".


"In my early twenties I saw a bold and brave theatre show whose message was: 'If you know how to die, you know how to live' - and that insight has stayed with me ever since. 


Having originally trained, and then worked, as an actress for 20 years (you can see me kissing Hugh Grant in About A Boy) I now work as an Executive Director alongside Fran at the Good Funeral Guide. For the last seven years this work has included advocating for transparency in the funeral profession, as well as supporting people to feel empowered to have the kind of farewell process that they both want, and need, for their person. 


Previously, as Head of Ceremonies at Humanists UK from 2014 - 2021, I managed the training and the continued professional development of over 450 celebrants, as well as advocating for meaningful contemporary ceremonies and their benefit to the individual, to the community, and to society as a whole. 


I have had my own celebrant practice for 14 years, and have taken over 800 ceremonies, including the first ever legally recognised humanist wedding in Northern Ireland, and the funerals of Victoria Wood (comedienne), Terry Jones (Monty Python), and Doris Lessing (awarded Nobel Prize for literature.) Throughout my professional and personal life I have also been naturally drawn to personal development and training, and am recognised as a skilled coach. I worked regularly as an associate with Caroline Black, designing and delivering a suite of one day training and personal development workshops for clients, including senior ambassadors at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.


I am fortunate to have contributed to various publications, including ‘Emerging Ritual In Secular Societies’ and ‘Crafting Secular Ritual’ by Jeltje Gordon-Lennox, and I collaborated with Jayne Wynne Wilson on a new edition of the groundbreaking book ‘Funerals Without God’.

The ‘Liminal Time’ concept, and ‘The Power of Liminal Time’ workshops, are the culmination of both my professional and my personal life experience. Facilitating these workshops is one of the most life affirming things that I have ever done. They embody mine and Fran's commitment to supporting people to do ‘a better job’ of death and dying - with compassion, creativity, and common-sense. ‘If you know how to die, you know how to live’ remains a guiding principle."

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