Pictured: Shrewsbury Town Crier Martin Wood with his wife Sue doing a special cry for My Shrewsbury's Carols on the Doorstep event
Fingers Crossed for our Town Crier!
Martin Wood, our very famous and remarkably tall town crier is through to the final of the British Town Crier Championships, which are being held in silence this year, due to Covid.
There’s a certain irony in a silent ‘Oyez’, which can be translated as ‘hear ye’ – Shrewsbury’s town crier has made the finals with his written cry, staying on theme of nature and the environment, sticking carefully to his 14-word limit.
The competition, organised by the Loyal Company of Town Criers is in support of mental health week (May 10-16) and the charity Shout. Judges this year include Ian McMillan, aka ‘the Bard of Barnsley’ and the winner will be announced on 13 May.
Fittingly, Martin tells the story in his own words! We’ll only be able to read his cry once the winner is announced, however.
“Once upon a time there was a group of town criers who met every year to take part in the National town criers championships of the Loyal Company of Town Criers, (Known as the LCTC).
However, this year a nasty little bug, called Covid, came along and spoilt all their fun and the criers were very upset.
“What shall we do?” they all cried, “We can’t meet up and shout at each other and then have a drink to celebrate the winner."
Then a very clever crier, Carole, came up with a wonderful idea.
“Instead of shouting our cry, let’s just write one and get some judges to judge our efforts,” she said and all the criers thought that this was a wonderful idea because they could write their cries, have their own drinks at home and not have to buy a round of drinks at the bar for everyone else, thus saving themselves a lot of money!
So, it was decided that each crier taking part, about 24 in all, would write their cry as normal, each cry would be between 100 – 140 words including the three ‘Oyez!’ At the start and God Save the Queen at the end and the cries would be sent (without names or mention of hometowns), to an adjudicator who would number them for the three judges who would give each cry a mark out of 25 points.
Once all the judges had seen each cry the adjudicator would add the scores up and the top ten criers would then go to another lot of judges who would do the same and eventually a winner would be announced.
Each crier has had to pay an entrance fee of at least £10 and this money will go to our chosen charity for the competition which is called, Shout!
Pretty clever I thought.
So, he said slamming the book shut, that’s the end of the story for now.”
The second instalment of Martin’s story will be in May when the winners are announced – watch this space!