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Who We Are

Contributors

Paul Hensby trained as a journalist with the Reader's Digest, before going on to edit Director Magazine for the Institute of Directors. He then worked as director of press and public relations at Westminster City Council and from there moved into the public sector.  He was director of Communications at the National Lottery Charities Board and the Community Fund before going freelance. In 2008, he concentrated his time and energy on establishing My Last Song.

A former BBC journalist, Suzi Lewis-Barned found working on My Last Song fascinating, particularly researching the different rituals around funerals and the attitudes to death that they convey. Although her work is increasingly focused on health and lifestyle matters, Suzi’s 20 years' writing experience has included work across all media and many subject areas. Her clients include major pharmaceutical companies, marketing communications agencies and many small and medium sized businesses. She particularly enjoys working with start-up enterprises, helping with web content development and marketing literature.

Dr Chris Browne, a vastly experienced GP, is My Last Song's doctor.  He comes from a medical family and trained in London.  He undertook specialist training before spending more than 20 years as a rural GP experiencing the complete range of medical problems and learning about people. He has worked in London for several years, and now practices in central London. Widely knowledgeable, he likes to treat the whole person rather than just the illness. He believes that the individual comes first and that treatment can be traditional or from the complementary system.

Simon Allen has been a Humanist Officiant since 1991, having taken over a thousand funerals at 34 crematoria and 25 cemeteries. He has trained over a hundred officiants, and spoken at many conferences.  Simon brings to mylastsong an understanding of the complete funeral process from the family’s perspective. He can answer questions about crematoria and the funeral ‘business’, in particular current developments in funerals. Simon decided when he was ten that he did not believe in god and has lived all of his life as an atheist and Humanist. He is based in West Hertfordshire and travels widely whenever he can.

Damon Parker is a litigator specialising in the field of contentious trusts, probate and tax matters. His clients include charities, trust companies and private individuals engaged in trust variations and disputes. He has wide experience in all aspects of Court work involving trusts and tax schemes, both in the UK and offshore.   His practice includes advising on defective tax schemes, often for large groups of investors. He acts for families and trustees in both onshore and offshore trust litigation. He is recommended in the 2009 edition of Chambers and Partners as one of the leading practitioners in his field. 

Jessica Tomlin is a public relations specialist. Since graduating from the University of Surrey in 2003, she has gained much experience working with national media whilst working as PR consultant and press spokesperson for Dignity in Dying, a not-for-profit organisation campaigning for greater choices at the end of life.  Much of the knowledge in end of life care articles came from this role. Jessica has also worked for Nightingale Associates, an international architecture practice specialising in producing patient-centric healthcare building designs. Jessica is also a freelance writer and adviser, and has worked for a variety of organisations.  

Reverend Akasha Lonsdale trained with the Interfaith Seminary in London for two years, and has been an ordained Interfaith Minister since July 2006.  She is also a qualified psychotherapist, ex-NHS surgery counsellor and spiritual counsellor.  Her experience in working with others spans 3O years and includes training and professional speaking.  She is author of How to do Life - Powerful Pointers for Powerful Living and her second book is due to be published in 2010.   What she brings to all her work is experience, compassion and respect.   Her knowledge of bereavement is extensive both through her work with others, and her own personal loss.  

Renee Smith is a retired counsellor and trainer/lecturer, specialising in death issues.  Her first career was as a nurse, and after spending five years in Kenya in the 1970s she concentrated on bereavement and counselling. Renee retired early when her kidneys failed in 2005. A transplant in October 2008 has given her renewed energy. A committed Christian all her life, Renee was married and had six children. In the 1990s, she finally ‘faced the truth’ in her words and came out as gay when she fell in love. She had a civil partnership as soon as the law allowed.

Kristie West is a Grief Specialist.  She specialises in helping adults who have lost a parent. After losingsix family members in four months herself, including her dad who died very suddenly, Kristie found herself on a journey to find the thing that few people believe in when it come to grief - true and complete healing.  And she didn't stop until she reached it.  Now she takes others through that process so they can talk about, remember, feel close to, and love those they have lost without it hurting them anymore.  You can find Kristie here.

Julia Hailes MBE is a leading opinion former, freelance consultant and speaker on social, environmental and ethical issues. Current or recent clients includeProcter & Gamble, Shell, McDonalds, Marks & Spencer and Morrisons.  Julia writes regularly for Telegraph Online and other media.  She is author or co-author of nine books, including The Green Consumer Guide, which sold over one million copies worldwide and more recently The New Green Consumer Guide.  In 1987 she co-founded, SustainAbility Ltd, a leading edge consultancy and think tank, which now has offices in London, Washington and Zurich.  In 1989 Julia Hailes was elected to the UN `Global500 Roll of Honour' for her 'outstanding environmental achievements' and in 1999 she was awarded an MBE.

Nicola Ball is a freelance researcher working mainly on radio programme and web content. She is also a literary specialist and tutor. Nicola was pleased to research funeral verse and eulogy content for mylastsong.com, as well as to look at the history of funeral flowers and how best to organise flowers at a funeral. Also as an animal lover who was brought up with a menagerie of animals, she understood the sensitivities and practical issues surrounding the loss of a much loved horse or pet – and as a mother of two children, how to turn this into a more positive experience. 

Kirsty Young is founder of Singers for Funerals, a service offering professional singers for church and civil funerals. She is a professional opera singer who performs regularly across the UK with her company Hatstand Opera, and passionately believes that opera, song and vocal music is for everyone - and everywhere. Kirsty is on the board of the Opera and Music Theatre Forum, a national body that represents small and medium scale companies in the UK.  She has contributed to the children's songbook series Singing Express, had a regular column in Classical Music, and her reviews and articles have appeared in publications as diverse as Time Out London and Dogs Monthly!

When her brother, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cameron  died at the end of her second year at university, Tabitha Jayne took two years out from her university course to set up The Pedro Project, a charity to help young adults affected by bereavement. Motivated by this she achieved a BSc in Psychology from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, where she focused her final year dissertation on ‘Attachment and the Type of Loss Experienced by the Bereaved in Continuing Bonds’.
The Pedro Project ran for six years and during this time, Tabitha was a finalist in the ‘Everywoman 2004 Awards, which recognises inspiring women in enterprise, and Cosmopolitans ‘Fun, Fearless Females 2006 Awards.
In March 2008, she moved to Spain where she taught English as she learned the language and culture.
Working now as a Transformational Loss Coach, she shares what she's learned from loss and helps others through their own journey. She believes that despite all the pain and and hurt, her brother dying was one of the best things that happened to her.
More information and her report 12 Transformational Tips - Loss to Life in 12 Hours is available here.

Tim McArthur is an international performer having performed seasons in Cape Town, London and New York as himself and also his musical comedy character Sister Mary McArthur. He has appeared in many musicals including Blair On Broadway, Joseph, South Pacific and Company. Tim’s presenting credits include BBC Radio London, Theatre 247.tv, Theatre Radio, Five Live and Gaydar Radio. Earlier in 2009 he directed two successful new musicals, Casanova at The Kings Head Theatre in Islington and Obama On My Mind at The Hen and Chickens, also in Islington.

Paul Brown is a life coach and NLP practitioner who specialises in assisting clients of all ages and backgrounds explore what they really want (which may differ from what they think is currently possible) and then helping them access their inner resources to achieve their potential. For more information (and for testimonials) please visit his website.

Jamie Wilson is My Last Song's developer. He is the genius who has built the site, makes it work and generally does the magic stuff that the rest of us can only marvel at.  He spends lots of hours thinking, lots of hours staring at his computer screen and without him none of this would work.

Better Brief helped by giving excellent advice, creating an earlier version of the site, setting up the feedback process and assisting above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks to Dan and Josh who are Better Brief.

Mission

My Last Song’s first catch line was: ‘A good life deserves a good ending.’

From this we agreed the mission of the site:

'To encourage visitors to have a more positive approach to the latter part of their lives, to plan their funerals, put their affairs in order and have as high a quality later part of their lives as possible.'

Values

  • To have accurate, relevant and up-to-date content;
  • To be easy to navigate, easy to understand, easy to join, easy to contribute;
  • To be as accessible as possible, technically and in the way the content is written and designed;
  • To ensure secure transactions and storage of information;
  • To provide high level of user support;
  • To have fast and reliable connections;
  • To have links to organisations with shared values and purpose;
  • To respect all visitors regardless of age, gender, race, religion, faith, physical and mental abilities, and sexual orientation;
  • To ensure the site is not used for or facilitates illegal activity;
  • To be a site and brand that other organisations want to be associated with due to shared values and purposes.

A limited company

Two successful business angels and a cricket playing friend invested start up capital, and a limited company, Mylastsong.com ltd was established in 2008.

Mylastsong.com is registered at Companies House, has regular board meetings, provides annual accounts and is run in a professional and competent way.

Its legal advisers are Field Fisher Waterhouse, 35 Vine Street London EC3N 2PX.

Accountant and company secretary: David Powell, 7 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QP