About John & Sue

Sue Gill


Born in Yorkshire and educated in Hull and Cambridge.

After working as Head Teacher of the smallest village school in remote North Yorkshire and lecturing in Bradford Art College Sue evolved to be:

  • an author,
  • performer,
  • secular celebrant,
  • cook,
  • saxophonist,
  • truck driver,
  • co founder of Welfare State International (1968-2006)
  • and grandmother

After WSI was archived she was, for one year, Director of Ceremonies

for Lanternhouse International.

From 1998-2006 course leader for WSI's groundbreaking MA in Cultural Performance created in partnership with Bristol University.

Honorary Fellow of the University of Cumbria.

Invited to be Celebrant for the Ceremony of Remembrance for Great Ormond Street Hospital (2001)


Co-author of the Dead Good Guides  - books on Funerals and Baby Namings.


Presently leads Rites of Passage Summer Schools across the UK with Gilly Adams, and works as a secular celebrant for weddings and naming ceremonies and funeral officiant, particularly for woodland burials.



John Fox


Printmaker, poet, author, artist, theatre director, occasional musician, lecturer and cultural provocateur. Co–author, with Sue Gill, of the Dead Good Guides.

1938  Born Hull. National Service West Africa, Hons Degrees in PPE at Oxford and Fine Art in Newcastle. After lecturing in art colleges:

1968 co- founded Welfare State International . Artistic Director.1968-2006

1991/ 1998 Northern Electric Awards for Outstanding Achievement

1998 Large woodcut triptych, for English Estates : permanent mural in The Trinity     Enterprise Centre Barrow in Furness

2002 "Eyes on Stalks "autobiog.Methuen

2006  April Fools Day. Archived Welfare State International

            Arts '06  Arts Council of England  Life Times achievement Award.  

"An immense influence on three generations of artists, teachers and administrators, both in this country and throughout the world."

ACE Artist/Time/Space Award for cross disciplinary project "Pick Up Sticks"

“Graphics and Gifts". Retrospective exhib. of woodcuts for Mid Pennine Arts.   

2009  Companion of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts  LIPA

2009  Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

2008 -11 Senior Research Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts. Arts and Humanities Research Council ( AHRC) at the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Art (LICA) at Lancaster University. An exploration of ecology, place and performance on the shoreline of Morecambe  Bay.

Hon Fellow of Universities of Cumbria and Central Lancashire.

2012 June MBE in Queen's Birthday Honours.

"This is an acknowledgement of the unstinting contribution you have made as an inventor of forms of creative participation and celebration. As a leading exponent of celebratory arts in the UK you have inspired and trained hundreds of community leaders across the UK. I am delighted that your work has been recognised in this way.
Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP. Sec of State. Department for Culture Media and Sport.
Quick time "movie" by Johnny McGee.  Studio view. Click here.