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'Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!' twenty town criers set to descend on Norfolk seaside town for national championships

PUBLISHED: 12:21 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 11 May 2019

Cromer town crier Jason Bell with Steven Burbidge, who is sponsoring the annual Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Crier championships, which will take place in Cromer town centre next weekend.
Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Cromer town crier Jason Bell with Steven Burbidge, who is sponsoring the annual Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Crier championships, which will take place in Cromer town centre next weekend. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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Nearly 20 town criers from all over the country will be heading to Cromer next weekend, to take part in a prestigious competition which will see one of them hailed the best - and the loudest - in their field.

Jason Bell demonstrates his town crier skills to local trader Steven Burbidge, who is sponsoring the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Crier championships, which will take place in Cromer town centre next weekend.
Picture: KAREN BETHELLJason Bell demonstrates his town crier skills to local trader Steven Burbidge, who is sponsoring the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Crier championships, which will take place in Cromer town centre next weekend. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

The annual contest, which is organised by the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers, will see booming-voiced individuals including Norwich crier Bob Lloyd, Watton crier Mike Wabe, Newmarket crier Brenda Willison and others from as far afield as Somerset, Wiltshire and Lancashire parade through the town centre.

Competitors will then line up in front of a panel of judges taking notes on diction, clarity, inflection and volume from their seats in the churchyard.

Cromer crier Jason Bell, who will step down from his role at the end of the town carnival in August after 35 years of appearing at local events ranging from football matches, to festivals, will be taking part in the event, although, as host crier, he is not eligible to compete.

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A former World Town Crier championships semi-finalist, Beccles-born Mr Bell will be celebrating his retirement by sponsoring two runner-up trophies, with Cromer Town Council and Steven Burbidge, of Cromer Trophies and Engraving, sponsoring trophies and shields for other categories including best dressed crier, consort and couple.

"I think it is an honour for Cromer to be chosen as the host town and, with so many different uniforms and different cries, the championships provide quite a spectacle," Mr Bell said.

Those taking part are required to pen cries of no more than 150 words, including shouting 'Oh Yez' three times and finishing with a cry of 'God Save the Queen'.

Home cries should praise the merits of the crier's town, while a second 'cry of choice' can be on any subject,

"For my home cry, I usually add in something about Cromer Pier Show, the Blue Flag beaches, crab fishing and the church tower, but with the cry of choice, you can often get some humour in there, which can be quite entertaining," Mr Bell explained.

The Honourable Guild of Town Criers championships run in Cromer town centre on Saturday, May 18. Following a parade through the town at 10.45am, competitors will line up across High Street, which will be closed to traffic. The contest will run from 11.30am-12.30pm and again from 2.15pm, with presentation of trophies and shields at 3.30pm.

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