Celebrating Somerset’s registrars after a year like no other

A new event to celebrate the vital work done by registrars and their colleagues is being held on 1 July with National Registrars’ Day.

Members of Somerset County Council’s Registration Service are using the day to reflect on all that’s been achieved over the last year, from the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit to ground-breaking legislation changes.

Covid-19 significantly disrupted the normal routine which would see the service conduct around 3,000 ceremonies each year. A new digital enquiry system was launched in response to Covid in August last year.

The small booking team received more than 6,700 enquiries in just 10 months. They also rearranged around 2,000 ceremonies affected by the first two lockdowns. Despite the many restrictions and 30 sets of national rule changes, ceremony staff have still created meaningful and intimate ceremonies for couples.

Birth registrations, a face to face process, ceased completely during the first lockdown. Returning staff were faced with an unprecedented backlog of hundreds of new babies to document once offices opened again. A total of 4,861 Somerset newborns were successfully registered up to April this year, with an extra 1,270 Bristol-born babies of North Somerset couples recorded thanks to a new partnership agreement with Bristol City Council.

Death registrations continued throughout the pandemic as a priority, with the team adapting overnight to new legislation. As a result, a total of 8,675 deaths were registered by phone by the bereaved.

This essential job is understandably emotional, and staff involved deserve enormous praise for handling this work sensitively and compassionately.

Registration staff have found it uplifting to hear stories from members of the public about what a difference these services have made to their lives. Citizenship ceremonies, the final statutory part of a person’s journey to becoming a British citizen, normally involve a large group ceremony complete with local dignitary and celebratory tea and cakes.

Continuing this work remotely using video calls has been a very different experience, but staff have still managed to make it a special moment.

The work continues to record and officiate at major life events through new challenges such as the switch from traditional registers to a new digital record system for marriages that was introduced in May.

As part of the evolving Covid regulations, marriage ceremonies can now take place outdoors, something couples have wanted for a long time.

Cllr David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “At Somerset County Council we promote key values of customer focus, care and respect, collaboration and a can-do attitude. Our registration service staff embody these values. I’d like to take this opportunity to applaud them all and thank them for their outstanding service.

“Everyone in the registration service has always strived to go above and beyond to provide the best service they possibly can.  In a year like no other, they have excelled yet again, exceeding all expectations to overcome the enormous challenges along the way.  It’s truly an honour to work with them all.”

This essential work carries on week in, week out, to record life events. Why not drop your local Registration service a line on social media, email or even a card in the post to let them know how this has made a difference to you this Registrars’ Day via these channels: www.somersetweddingservice.org.uk www.facebook.com/SomersetWeddingService/ www.instagram.com/somersetregistrations/ https://twitter.com/SCC_Weddings