Wigan funeral celebrant's poem set to music

Hilary Walker's piece Human Touch is about the loss of contact during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, 1st January 2021, 7:00 am
Funeral celebrant Hilary Walker

Hilary, from Up Holland, created the poem after conducting her first service at which she was not allowed to shake hands or offer any physical consolation to the grieving mourners.

Her words are sure to strike a chord with people who have now endured months of measures such as social distancing which prevent people getting close to each other for reasons of virus transmission.

Hilary entered the poem into a competition where the prize was to have a song made out of the verses and was delighted to win it.

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Musician Emma Mould

Manchester singer-songwriter Emma Mould has now created a musical setting of Human Touch.

Hilary, 64, said: “Usually when a funeral service is over and people leave the crematorium or the graveside everyone shakes your hand and you can offer the family a pat on the shoulder or some form of comfort.

“It’s so natural that the first time I had to do a funeral without offering a hand out was so difficult. That’s where the inspiration for the poem came from.

“The situation has now become commonplace, it’s what we do, but to me it’s still very sad and heart-breaking.

“I saw the competition advertised and the idea was for something about Covid-19 and its impact. It seemed the poem met the criteria so I sent it in.

“I was lucky enough to win. I really liked the prize of the winning poem being turned into a song, it’s quite unusual and felt really special.

“It was a really interesting experience having my words converted into music. I suppose it’s a nice story of turning something into something else. There’s an expression of hope at the end of it, I hope that’s the feeling that comes across in the song as well.

“I think this has maybe been a lesson for us all about how important human contact is. We take it for granted but we do need it. It is how we interact, particularly at times of intense sadness.”

Hilary has been writing poetry for some time and is a familiar face at open mic events around the North West.

The competition she won was called Living in Hope and was organised via Facebook by interfaith organisation Building Bridges Pendle.

Hilary was thrilled with Emma’s musical rendition of her words, saying the song was “beautiful” and “ethereal”, and musician Emma was similarly complimentary about Hilary’s way with words.

She said: “Hilary penned a fabulous poem which felt universal that many people could all relate to. She touched on things that so many of us from all walks of life were going through daily, and she articulated it so well poetically.

“As a live musician Covid-19 brought my world to a halt overnight. I had to quickly adapt and get my head around digital streaming, social media interaction and home recording as well as trying to homeschool my kids.

“I felt with Hilary’s words, and all the various emotions and experiences I and others around me had gone through, I was able to pour it all together and the song Human Touch was born.”

The song Human Touch is available to view on YouTube by searching for Emma Mould.

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