Harking back to the day the civil registration service began in 1837, the 1st of July is becoming increasingly recognised within local government as a day of celebration for registrars across the country. Adopting the name National Registrar Day, the beginning of July has now come to represent the hard work registrars do for their communities day in and day out, from helping new parents start their family journey and preparing couples for their big day, to supporting the bereaved through some of their most difficult moments.
And this work has continued in the face of difficult circumstances, with the pandemic hitting registrars hard with backlogs and difficult working conditions. Despite this, services have continued to support big life moments with strength and empathy, recording over 625,008 live births (source) and 586,334 deaths (source) according to 2021’s latest statistics.
As a company that works with over 100 registration services, we’ve had the privilege of partnering with registrars throughout the UK and sharing their ups and downs with them. From their day-to-day experiences or even the pandemic, we’ve always found the job of being a registrar to be as unique as it is stressful, playing a role in vital moments and being there for people through various life stages.
So in the spirit of National Registrar Day, we set out to ask services “What’s the most rewarding thing about being a registrar”? We’ve listed what we’ve heard back below:
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a registrar?
The metropolitan district is one of the busiest in the North West, with their team processing not only 1,841 marriages in 2019 according to the latest statistics, but also registering the 3rd highest volumes for births and deaths in the region in 2020, 5,183 and 5,445 respectively.
Pat Evans, Superintendent Registrar –
“Having been in the Registration Service for over 35 years I have seen many changes from the introduction of approved venues for marriage, to the loss of handwritten registers and the introduction of IT, civil partnerships and same sex marriage and most recently a global pandemic. My belief now is the same as it has always been – no matter what processes we follow it is an honour and a privilege for registrars to guide members of the public through some of the most important life events. Our input will be remembered by families for many years as their significant milestones are marked. I am, and always will be, proud to have made this Service my career.”
The inner London borough famed for the Tower of London have handled the registration of 1,297 deaths (2020) and conducted 824 marriages (2019) in recent years. In addition to this, the team have worked tirelessly to register over 4,000 births in 2020, the 7th highest out of over 30 London Boroughs.
David Atkinson, Registration Service Manager –
“Registration is an extremely varied job and although conducting ceremonies in large venues for different people can be extremely fun, it’s seeing people get emotional when naturalising as a British citizen that really makes me enjoy the work I do”.
Christina Lane, Principal Ceremonies Officer –
“No two days are the same and to deal with births, deaths, ceremonies in one day can be challenging but very rewarding. It’s an important role providing excellent service to customers for their life events.”
Malwina Bukowska-Sadler, Statutory Officer –
“Every aspect of my work is fulfilling and rewarding and no day is the same in our office. I like the fact that as a registrar I work with and for our local community and can be present at the time of memorable moments in people’s lives, whether it is a joyous occasion of registering a baby or getting married or offering my support in sad times when they come in to register a death of their loved one.”
The service overseeing the most populous city in the South West of England, Bristol’s registrars have consistently deliver excellent service for their 450,000+ residents. Having sat with parents to record the highest amount of births of any unitary authority in England and Wales (5,270), the team have also supported the registration of 3,541 deaths within the district, and conducted 1,538 marriages (2019).
Sue, Registration Team –
“The most rewarding thing about being a Registrar is when informants leave the office having registered a death, feeling a little better than when they arrived.”
Chelsea, Registration Team –
“The most rewarding a thing about being a Registrar is helping people at huge life milestones, whether they be happy or sad”
Lorna, Registration Team –
“The most rewarding thing about being a Registrar is helping people when they need us the most.”
As a borough with one of the highest population densities in London, Hackney’s registrars oversee a significant number of life events within their area. Actively working to tackle backlogs throughout the pandemic, the team registered 3,930 births and 1,392 deaths during the first year of the pandemic.
The Hackney ceremony team are also often on their feet, with the area having the 4th highest amount of marriage ceremonies out of all London boroughs with 1,237.
Renae Parkes, Registration and Ceremonies Team Manager –
“I had a citizen contact us who was literally filled with worry and anxiety about her ceremony. She asked what would make us cancel our ceremony as she had been diagnosed with cancer 5 days before and everything in her life right now has just not been working out for the better. I advised her that in my 10 years of working here, we’ve only ever cancelled a ceremony due to lockdown. I told her not to worry about anything, if she needed to go to medical appointments or chemo or anything, it’s fine, we will work around her. I told her I’d even offer her a complimentary private citizenship ceremony if needs be.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that was so grateful and expressed so much gratitude in my life. I made a mental note to go and see her at her ceremony and I bought her a big bouquet of flowers (as close to red, white and blue that I could find!), chocolates and a little keyring that I felt was fitting. When my colleague brought her over to me, she just burst into tears and hugged me and just wouldn’t let go. When I showed her the gifts, she literally almost fell to the floor. It was so emotional, we were both crying. Even thinking about it now, I have a massive lump in my throat.”
Alongside being the 3rd busiest unitary authority in the UK for births, Durham registration service are also one of the busiest in the North East. This includes significant appointment and ceremony volumes for the North East, with the team registering the highest births and deaths during the COVID pandemic in 2020 within the region (4,668 and 6,700 respectively), and the second highest amount of marriages conducted for the year prior.
Anne Robson, Superintendent Registrar –
“Well I would not have stayed in the service for over 30 years if every day wasn’t an adventure. From my days as a casual registrar to my role as Superintendent Registrar, I have had the privilege of assisting people through all the different life events.
Meeting so many people with different experiences from welcoming new babies, conducting marriages and civil partnership, leading those making the transition of becoming a British Citizen or easing the passage for a family registering the death of a loved one. I have even had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of someone who’s birth I registered and registered my own grandchildren’s birth. So many emotions all in the same day are often a part of the life of a registrar and why so many of us love the occupation we have.”
The marriage capital of the North East with 2,130 marriages in 2019, Northumberland’s registrars work diligently to support local residents in their life events. Overseeing the registration of the 4th highest amount of births in the region, the team at Northumberland also take great pride in supporting families going through bereavement, helping register almost 4,000 deaths within the council area during the pandemic.
Neil Crompton, Registration Team –
“The most rewarding aspect of being a registrar is being able to support and guide people through the most significant events in their life. This includes the happy occasions, such as registering the birth of a child or planning and conducting a couple’s perfect wedding day, but it also includes the sad occasions such as registering the death of a close one. To be able to play a small part in these life events, and to make what can sometimes be a daunting and complicated process as simple and effortless as possible for people, is what makes the role of a registration officer the most rewarding.”
Andrew King, Registration Team –
For me the most rewarding thing about being a registrar has to be the weddings. It’s such an amazing feeling to be a part of a couples’ special day and every single time I pronounce a couple as married I get a little shiver down my spine. For me, there’s no better job in the world.”
Susan Hopper, Registration Team –
“How I am able to help everyone in all walks of life, at all stages of life. I am there to help, support and sometimes most importantly listen to people and their experiences while I carry out the legal requirements at that time.”
Claire McLaughlin, Registration Team –
“A career in registration is rewarding in so many ways, but the most enriching aspect for me, is the feeling of pride that comes with helping people during key life moments.”
Sarah Bowery, Registration Team –
“I can’t believe how lucky I am to meet such amazing people every day. I have the privilege of helping people during the most pivotal and emotional parts of anyone’s life and I will never take that for granted.”
Judith Redpath, Registration Team –
“Meeting nervous brides and grooms before their wedding the seeing them relaxed and happy afterwards, knowing we have helped in that process by remaining calm, cheerful and kind.”
Eva Rayner-Cook, Registration Team –
“Supporting people though the most difficult time in their lives.”
Sarah Mills, Registration Team –
“It’s a privilege to be part of the three most emotional times of people’s lives, meeting interesting people and making their experience a one they will not forget, no appointment is ever the same. Registering a death can be one of the most rewarding parts of the role, it can be very emotional for everyone involved, people assume it’s quite a depressing duty but it’s a way to tangibly help someone struggling through the grieving process. I just want to make it the best possible experience for those people.”
Based in the south of Outer London, Sutton registration service have continued to deliver outstanding service to local residents throughout the pandemic and beyond. The service have had to manage an increase of 18% for death registrations during the first year of the pandemic, while still being able to record 2,350 births and 282 marriages.
Sutton Registration Team –
“The most rewarding thing about being a registrar is seeing the smiles on the faces of our citizens after their citizenship ceremonies, birth registrations and marriages.”
The 16th largest county council in England, Oxfordshire’s registrars regularly deal with high volumes of appointments and bookings. Receiving the 5th and 6th largest amount of bookings in the South East for birth and death registrations respectively in 2020, the region is also popular for weddings due to amazing licensed venues like Blenheim Palace, attracting over 2,880 ceremonies across all venues in 2020.
Lorna Hind, Additional Superintendent Registrar –
“For me, the most rewarding thing about being a registrar is being able to make a small difference in someone’s life every day – helping someone to make sense of the paperwork they’ll need to get married abroad, reassuring a nervous reader at a wedding, promising new parents that sleepless nights don’t last for ever, talking to a bereaved family about happy memories.”
Nestling between Liverpool, Warrington, Knowsley, St Helens and Cheshire West, Halton Borough Council’s registrars play a vital role in registering births and deaths, enabling couples to give notice, and formally naturalising new British citizens via citizenship ceremonies in their region. The team have recorded 1,256 births (2020), supported bereaved families in registering the passing of 1,380 citizens (2020), and recorded 243 marriages throughout the borough (2019).
Halton Registration Team –
“We at Halton feel that the most rewarding thing about being a registrar is helping and supporting people during their major life events.”
Providing government services to over 200,000 people within their authority, the City of York’s registrars have strived to deliver excellent service to local residents. This includes in 2020 conducting over 3,500 registration appointments for births and deaths, while recording the 7th highest marriages in the Yorkshire and Humber region with 1,106 marriages, utilising unique licensed venues like York Racecourse.
York Registration Team –
“The most rewarding thing about being a registrar is being able to play a small part in a meaningful event that has happened in the lives of our customers, including conducting marriages, civil partnerships and registering births, deaths and marriages. Whichever service you are providing you know it will be poignant for that person(s) and you get to hear wonderful stories about their lives and families. It is a privilege to be a registrar. “
“It is an honour to be there to support and help people (and sometimes celebrate with them too!) at some of the most significant times in their lives and to feel that you have in some small way made the registration process as smooth, pleasant, efficient and stress-free as possible.”
From the Stopford team, our Marketing Assistant, Chris Freeman, had this to say:
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with and discussing how registration works at length with service leaders and registrars up and down the country over the last 3 years and though no person is the same, I can say there are threads between them all. Hard working, deeply empathetic, and a sense of duty to those in their communities.
It’s certainly not something you can just go and be. Every member of the team from Superintendent to Sessional Registrar take great pride in what they do, from being there to celebrate the union of a couple to supporting people who have lost a loved one, they bring professionalism and grace at times where not only their formal role matters, but what they bring to the table as themselves matters.”