Cries of joy as Chippenham goes Victorian
Trevor Heeks (Trowbridge town crier), Graeme Fearon (Ramsbury town crier), Dennis Phillips, Mark Wylie (Calne town crier) and Owen Collier (Royal Wootton Bassett town crier)
Chippenham has something to shout about after electing its own town crier at a cry-off held in the town centre on Saturday as part of a Victorian Fayre.
Sea cadet drill instructor Dennis Phillips, who has lived in the town all of his life, used his authoritative tones to good effect to win the coveted role.
He was inspired by shouts by experienced criers from neighbouring towns including Trevor Heeks from Trowbridge, Graeme Fearon from Ramsbury, Mark Wylie from Calne and Owen Collier from Royal Wootton Bassett. Mr Phillips, 56, from Monkton Park, said: “I had put my name down to enter but I hadn’t really prepared anything to say.
“But I know a lot about Chippenham and so I just shouted out about the history of the town and all its good points.
“I really enjoyed doing it and I am looking forward to taking part in civic events in my new role.”
He was presented with a bell by Chippenham Mayor Sylvia Gibson and is now being fitted for his robes.
The other town criers will act as mentors to help prepare Mr Phillips for his first official function which will be the St Paul’s community service on April 27.
Odd-job man Mr Phillips, who was up against Peggy Burgess and Jules Shore for the title, is well known in the town for his fundraising endeavors with Chippenham Crackpots and roles with Chippenham Highlights theatre company.
He said: “I think it is about time Chippenham got a town crier and I am really pleased I was chosen.”
The town crier competition was just one of a number of attractions that drew a crowd to the town centre and added a festive feel to the High Street.
The annual Victorian Fayre was one of the highlights.
Chippenham Town Council events manager Emma King said: “The whole event was very successful and drew a lot of people to the town. It really added to the festive mood and we are very pleased with how it went.
“We will most likely repeat it again next year.”
Town council staff dressed the part in Victorian costumes and town councillors wore their official robes to add colour to the occasion.
Members of CLOGS Musical Theatre performed Christmas songs and carols on the Town Hall steps and were accompanied by Chippenham Town Band. Staff from Chippenham Museum also got in the Victorian mood by dressing in period clothes and members of Bath’s Counterfeit Theatre Company looked festive with baskets of holly.
Mayor’s secretary and town council administrator Mary Laing, who helped organise the event, said: “It was a really lovely day and it is great that Chippenham now has its own town crier.”
The festive cheer was enhanced by parking fees in the town being scrapped for the day.
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