Town crier championships to be held in complete silence this year due to Covid

21 April 2021, 13:49 | Updated: 21 April 2021, 13:54

The national Town Crier competition will be held in silence this year
The national Town Crier competition will be held in silence this year. Picture: Getty Images/PA Images

This year, competitors taking part in the Town Crier Championships will have to stay silent.

For the first time in history, the British Town Crier Championships will be held in complete silence.

The annual event usually sees the best criers from across the UK gather to give their best ‘Oyez, Oyezs’ shout.

But due to Covid restrictions, the event will not be allowed to take place in its usual form.

Instead, competitors will submit a 140 word written entry based on this year’s ‘nature and the environment’ theme.

The British Town Crier Championships were cancelled last year
The British Town Crier Championships were cancelled last year. Picture: PA Images

While the organisers had initially planned to hold a virtual version of the competition, some criers found it difficult to get quality sound recordings so this idea was scrapped.

Bishops Stortford crier and Loyal Company of Town Criers’ chair Carole Williams says the new format is ‘a return to the bare bones of crying’.

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She said: “It’s a real skill to write a cry that sticks to the theme, that enlightens people, and doesn’t bore the audience.

“And it all has to be done in 140 words.”

When asked what the judges look for when judging the competition, Ms Williams added they usually looked at three distinct parts of a cry: “Sustained volume and clarity, diction and inflection, and content.”

This comes after the championships were cancelled altogether last year due to the pandemic.

The current national champion is Dorchester’s Alistair Chisholm who won in Darlington in 2019.

He has also bagged the top spot 10 times over the years, and has said this year’s competition will be sure to ‘cheer people up’.

Alistair said: “In some ways it is absurd. It is a bit funny but if it helps cheer people up, that’s fine.

“The composition side of the town crying is a skill in itself so it is a good alternative way of judging a competition.”

Entries are now closed and judges include an English teacher, a former Royal pageant master and poet Ian McMillan, who is also known as the Bard of Barnsley.

This year's championships are in aid of mental health charity Shout, and the winner will be announced during Mental Health Awareness week in May.

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