TOWN CRIERS from across the country descended on Royal Wootton Bassett at the weekend.

The 2012 National Town Crier Competition took place in the High Street on Saturday and saw 21 town criers going head to head.

The event started with a parade of the town criers from Boroughfields Square to the town hall and was followed by an opening shout from Royal Wootton Bassett town crier Owen Collier welcoming visitors to the town. Mayor Mike Leighfield also addressed the crowd.

Swindon’s town crier Fred Ferris was taking part in the competition.

Fred, 80, of Penhill, who already has 16 awards for best dressed town crier, said: “I always go for best dressed. I already have 16 trophies but I still turn out in the hope that I can get another.”

The contest saw the town criers, including those from Ryde on the Isle of Wight, Oxford, Gloucester, Colchester and Frome, complete two shouts each.

Fred said: “In the morning, the shouts advertise your own home town, encouraging people to visit, then in the afternoon you usually have to write a shout on a subject that they give you, but this competition is open so you can write it on anything, and mine is very suggestive with lots of innuendos.

“I don’t get nervous at all, once you are up there and you’ve rung your bell, you don’t think of anyone else being there.”