Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

AM to become humanist celebrant

Lorraine Barrett
Lorraine Barrett says she is conducting more and more funerals

Assembly Member Lorraine Barrett is to quit politics at the next election in 2011 to become a humanist celebrant.

Mrs Barrett, 58, has been the Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth since 1999 but said she now wants to spend the next decade "on herself".

She plans to expand her growing role conducting non-religious funerals and civil partnerships.

"I just feel the time is right. I have achieved quite a lot behind the scenes," said Mrs Barrett.

Before her election as an AM, the Rhondda-born coal miner's daughter was a nurse and a Vale of Glamorgan councillor.

She also worked as an assistant to Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael for 12 years.

My life has now taken a new path with my celebrant's work and I am looking forward to new challenges
Lorraine Barrett AM

Mrs Barrett, who informed her constituency party of her decision last week, said she would be committed to her constituency work until she retires from politics in 2011.

She is a member of the health and sustainability committees at the assembly and also chairs the all-party animal welfare group and all party co-operative.

She has also been an assembly commissioner since 2007.

"I have taken this decision because I trained last summer with the British Humanist Association as a humanist celebrant and I now conduct humanist or non-religious funeral ceremonies," she said.

She said she mainly conducted the funerals around her political commitments, on Mondays and Fridays and during recesses.

"It's going very well and I get huge satisfaction in being able to do something so special for families at the most difficult time of their lives.

New path

"I want to develop my work as a celebrant to do baby-namings, weddings and civil partnerships.

"I also want to do more work with the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society. It is for that reason that I have decided not to stand at the next election.

"My life has now taken a new path with my celebrant's work and I am looking forward to new challenges."

She said that one of her plans was to do more with the Marie Curie Hospice in Penarth, where she is the patron.

Mrs Barrett's husband Paul is a rock and roll agent who used to manage Shakin' Stevens.

They have two children, drum and bass DJ High Contrast (Lincoln Barrett) and Satellite City actress Shelley Barrett, and two grandchildren. The couple live in Penarth.

Mrs Barrett is also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

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