Welcome to Dorset Humanists

Dorset Humanists welcomes atheists, agnostics, sceptics, secularists and all who question organised religion. Join us to live without religion, using reason, evidence, science and ethical behaviour. See 'About Us' and 'About Humanism'. Receive the free monthly pdf Dorset Humanists Bulletin/Newsletter. A partner of British Humanist Association.

Humanist Celebrant Leads Dorset’s First Secular Civic Service

DavidHewitt-20104-200x300We are delighted to report that local Humanist Celebrant David Hewitt (pictured) officiated at Ferndown’s first fully inclusive Civil Service on Friday July 11th 2014.

Having recognised that church-based thanksgiving services exclude a significant number of the area’s increasingly secular population, Ferndown’s town council recently took the commendable decision to break with tradition and host a non-religious outdoor service that would celebrate the town and its facilities.

In its coverage of the event, Blackmore Vale Magazine reported that Mayor of Ferndown, Councillor Mike Parkes and Town Clerk, Vanessa Ricketts were “delighted with the positive response from around 200 attendees”.

In the following article written for Dorset Humanists’ forthcoming August Bulletin, David Hewitt shares his recollections of the service, and describes the circumstances that led to this very welcome development.

A Humanist ‘Civic Ceremony’ by David Hewitt

On a quiet Friday lunchtime in May I received an intriguing email from the Town Clerk at Ferndown Town Council. She wrote: “Every year mayoral towns hold Civic Services which normally take the form of a church service of re-dedication and involve a few hymns, normally ‘I vow to thee my Country’ and ‘Jerusalem’, a sermon from the Vicar followed by tea and cake. The mayor, the youngest in the town’s history, and I want to bring this event into the 21st century!”

And so the idea was born of holding a fully inclusive Civic Service; one that would avoid alienating all those in the community who are not CofE, as so many previous services had done, by focussing more on celebration and less on thanksgiving. As I say in all my different ceremonies, if Humanism is about anything it is about leading ethical lives based on rationality and our common humanity. What better foundation then, what more apposite sentiments could there be for a ceremony to celebrate the high ethical standards and secular service that this lively and diverse community expects and enjoys?

True to the brief, we had no hymns, no prayers and definitely not a sermon. Instead the Mayor delivered a speech that talked about the past, present and future of Ferndown. We had a handful of readings, mostly delivered by youngsters from the community, and a period of reflection to appreciate what the council and community does for residents, and - paraphrasing JFK - what residents could do for the community. We even played some music: Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. It seemed the perfect song with those lyrics that talk about reaping what you will sow. The ceremony celebrated sowing the seeds of community spirit and encouraging community support, for doing so surely reaps countless rewards. Unfortunately, there was no ‘sangria in the park’, only Ringwood Best!

On-line coverage in the Blackmore Vale Magazine afterwards claimed it as a first for Dorset, but I suspect it might be the first anywhere in the country. How did it go down? The overall response was enthusiastic and positive, for at the heart of the ceremony was a ‘commendment’ that had as its theme a celebration of the wonderful ‘hard’ facilities the town enjoys, not least the spacious playing fields on which the open-air event took place, and the continuing ‘soft’ input that comes from the army of volunteers operating through - indeed bringing to life - the many organisations that serve the varied needs of this vibrant community. A truly Humanist celebration!

David Hewitt    BHA Accredited Naming, Wedding & Funeral Celebrant


For more about the services offered by Humanist Celebrants, please see our Ceremonies page and the links contained within at:

Making Sense of Animal Rights

Making Sense of Animal Rights 13th September 2014Saturday 13th September 2.00pm 
Moordown Community Centre, Coronation Avenue, Moordown Bournemouth BH9 1TW

With Emeritus Professor of Genetics Norman Maclean

The relationship between animals and humans has been the subject of differing philosophical views for thousands of years and the controversy continues today. Science has shown beyond doubt that we are part of the same evolutionary continuum as all other life on earth, sharing behaviour, physiology and many of our genes with our animal cousins, yet even the most passionate animal rights campaigner would be unlikely to argue that a cockroach warrants the same rights as a human being. So how should we treat other animals, whether farmed, domesticated, or wild, and what rights should we accord to the diverse range of species with which we share our planet? Is a vegan lifestyle the only moral choice?

In this presentation, Norman Maclean will explain the important role played by scientists in providing us with a strong evidence base for improving animal welfare attitudes and practices, and argue that, as a minimum, animal rights should include rights to exist, to hold territory, to reproduce, and to be free from unnecessary pain and exploitation. He will also examine controversial topics such as intensive farming, badger culls, hunting for sport, and the use of large numbers of laboratory animals in medical research and product testing.

Join us for a thought-provoking examination of the animal rights debate with geneticist and author Norman Maclean

Norman Maclean (SDA, BSc, PhD, FLS, FIBiol) is an Emeritus Professor of Genetics at The University of Southampton. Besides genetics he has worked in wildlife conservation and river management. He is an elected Fellow of the Institute of Biology and the Linnaean Society and served as the editor of the Molecular and Cell Science section of the Journal of Fish Biology. He was also a Trustee of Marwell Wildlife Park for many years, and served as its Honorary Scientific Advisor. Norman is an active member of the British Humanist Association and currently serves as a chair of his local humanist group.

Norman has authored, co-authored and edited over a dozen textbooks and reference books in genetics and cell biology. Between 1984 and 1991 he edited an annual review entitled 'Oxford Surveys on Eukaryotic Genes' (published by Oxford University Press) and most recently edited ‘Silent Summer’ (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He is editor of the forthcoming book, ‘A Less Green and Pleasant Land (Cambridge University Press, 2014), due for release in February 2014. The book details the current state of wildlife in Britain and Ireland and offers an insight into the outlook for the future. Chris Packham wrote the foreword.

Free entry (donations appreciated).     Everyone welcome!

Please help us promote Dorset Humanists and this event by displaying an A4 poster. Download an A4 printable copy here, or email Dave at DHcensus(at) for a PDF.

Click here to view details of other forthcoming and recent events on this website.

July Bulletin

DWPeter Tatchell is a fearless defender of human rights, not just in the UK but in numerous other countries, and we are delighted to have him speaking to us this month. Please arrive early to secure a seat, as we’re expecting a full venue. Peter last visited Dorset Humanists in 2005.

Also in this month's Bulletin, we bring you reports of our recent talks on Buddhism and Agnosticism, and our usual roundup of interesting local events including Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival, where we’ll have a stand to help promote our group and humanism.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.
David Warden
Chair, Dorset Humanists

Science & Pseudoscience: How to Tell the Difference

Science & Pseudoscience 17th July 2014Thursday 17th July 7.30pm
The Green House Hotel,  4 Grove Road, Bournemouth BH1 3AX

A Discussion with Science Journalist Peter Hadfield

In these times of information overload, media hype, disinformation, and chequebook journalism, how do reasonably intelligent people ensure we are accurately informed about science? What sources can we trust and what are the relative merits of books, websites, newspapers, and scientific journals?

With a particular focus on the topical issue of climate change, science journalist Peter Hadfield and Chair of Dorset Humanists David Warden will discuss how credible information is gathered, how to spot bogus information, and how to minimise the risk of being deceived.

Peter Hadfield is a firm defender of science and a staunch critic of pseudoscience, creationism, and global warming denialism. He regularly debunks pseudoscience and conspiracy theories on his YouTube channel, Potholer54, which now has approaching 90,000 subscribers, and also hosts the annual Crocoduck Awards.

“Join us for this lively discussion in which Peter Hadfield will guide us through the process of defending ourselves against pseudoscience and scientific deception”.

Free entry (donations appreciated).     Everyone welcome!

(The Green House Hotel can also be accessed by car and on foot via it’s rear driveway in Gervis Road. Gervis Road is well lit and has roadside parking available).

Please help us promote Dorset Humanists and this event by displaying an A4 poster. Download an A4 printable copy here, or email Dave at DHcensus(at) for a PDF.

Click here to view details of other forthcoming and recent events on this website.