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Town Criers Competition – 9th September 2023

After a dismal summer the sun had decided to shine upon Newton Abbot for the Competition, however it had not only decided to shine but to generate temperatures not normally found in September in Devon.

The Mayor, competitors, escorts, family members and judges assembled at the Royal British Legion to renew old friendships and to provide a suitable venue for the draw of who and when each would perform their cries in the competition.

Once all the appropriate pre-competition procedures were completed we left the RBL and to prevent the appearance of excessively perspiring Town Criers at the start of the competition a coach was arranged to transport the gathered “host” to a bus stop close to the competition site instead of the usual parade through the town.

Once at St Leonards Tower, the assembled criers and consorts provided picture opportunities for residents and visitors alike prior to the welcoming cry by the host Nigel Kenneison and a welcome from the Newton Abbot Mayor David Corney-Walker.

The competition then proceeded in the usual format, of a hometown base cry from the host followed by a hometown cry by the competitors in the previously drawn order.

Upon completion of the hometown cry the criers, escorts and officials were provided with vouchers for a refreshment at either the Clock Tower Café or the 1220, a local hostelry to relax and refresh their vocal cords prior to the second cry.

The second cry was themed “Sweets” as Sunshine Sweets, a local market trader, was providing a take home pack for the competitors. As with the first cry the host commenced with a base cry – a variation upon “Bring me Sunshine” reworded as – “Bring me Sweets” – we had had enough of actual sunshine by this time anyway.

The winner of the second cry, who had presumably spent a considerable amount of time getting a list of the possible sweets and had worked them into his cry, he came with a true Bounty of Topics causing several Snickers and a Boost to the gathered crowd, which had been judged by Sally-Ann Walker and John Thomas of Sunshine Sweets. A basket of confectionary was presented by Sunshine Sweets whilst numbers were compiled by the score collators, Dulcie and Ken Purchase.

The winners were presented with their appropriate envelopes (stuffed with cash courtesy of the Lord of the Manor, Keith Stokes-Smith) and cups, shields, and perfumery which was kindly donated by Austins department store.

  • 1st Place – Andrew Fox (Ilminster)
  • 2nd Place – John Pitt (Plymouth)
  • 3rd Place – Mark Wylie (Calne)
  • Best Dressed Crier – Chris Smirthwaite (Liskeard)
  • Best Dressed Escort – Angie Bishop (Frome)
  • Best Dressed Couple – Phil and Rose Northcott (Penzance)
  • Loudest Crier – Andrew Fox
  • Best Devon Crier – John Pitt
  • Sweet Cry Winner – David Green (Torpoint)

There was plenty of things happening in the town as well as the competition on Saturday. From the Clock Tower being open for tours, free crafts with Creative Newton Abbot and free face painting and balloon modelling.

Once all the presentations had taken place, all criers reboarded the bus and returned to the RBL for a cold buffet, refreshments and chatter prior to departing for their homes.

Newton AbbotTown Council would like to thank the following for their help:

  • Lord of the Borough Keith Stokes-Smith, sponsor of cash prizes & consort gifts;
  • Natalie Hicks & Kelly Burridge, Town Council Events Co-ordinators;
  • Nigel Kennieson, Newton Abbot Town Crier;
  • Newton Abbot branch of the Royal British Legion;
  • Austin’s Department Store, gifts for the ‘Best Dressed’ categories;
  • Twelve Twenty & The Clock Tower Café;
  • Tony Little, Steve Ryan & David Samson, Town Council Maintenance Officers;
  • PA – ‘The Booze Brothers’;
  • Sunshine Sweets.