By STEVE DOWNES
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
He began as a Sheringham Carnival novelty in 1987, when officials wanted a temporary town crier to add to the festivities.
And if you had told Tony Nelson that he would still be saying “oyez” a quarter of a century later, he would have said “no way”.
But the novelty never wore off, and Mr Nelson is on the brink of celebrating 25 years of ringing his bell and booming out introductions in the town and beyond.
To mark the milestone, Sheringham Town Council has paid for Mr Nelson’s new costume - his fourth since 1987 - and a clutch of local criers will gather in the town on carnival day, Sunday August 5.
He admitted his emotions would be “running high” on the day, as he looked back at so many years of enjoyment.
He said: “In 1987 I was on the carnival committee and senior members decided it would be a good wheeze to ask me to be carnival town crier - a carnival novelty.
“I thought it would be good to do it. I had a go and it has developed from there. Eventually the town council made me official and 25 years later, here I am.”
The latest costume, which was unveiled during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend, is red, white and blue - but its colour scheme is a tribute to the RNLI, which features as one of his lapel badges, alongside ones representing Sheringham, twin town Otterndorf and the Honourable Guild of Town Criers.
Mr Nelson played a central role in drawing up the specifications for the outfit, which was designed and made by Beryl Patterson.
He said: “I haven’t had an Otterndorf badge before, but thought it was time I did after 25 years of twinning.
“The RNLI badge comes because Sheringham has a long-established lifeboat station and I would like to link with that.”
Another change to the uniform is that Mr Nelson has opted for a top hat to replace the traditional tricorn. He said: “Many criers wear the tricorn, but there are historic precedents for the top hat - including town crier William Childerhouse in Norwich.”
Mr Nelson said he had done the job for 25 years because he “enjoys it”.
He added: “It’s one of those jobs where it’s difficult to get the sack. And I do a lot of singing, so the crying complements that. Singing keeps me permanently warmed up for town crying and vice versa.”
Mr Nelson also said he loved the opportunities his role afforded to meet locals and visitors to Sheringham, saying: “You become a tourist office on legs”.