Swanage Town Crier wins world’s first virtual town crier competition!

Despite stiff competition from around the world including Australia, the town crier for Swanage, Andrew Fleming has scooped first place in the virtual town crier competition, that took place over the weekend via Zoom.

Usually throughout the summer there are regional and national town crier competitions but with all events cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic,Wareham’s town crier, Jacqui Hall came up with the idea of a virtual competition.

Using Zoom, competitors dialled in from around the world and there was a draw to decide the order in which the town criers would compete.

Zoom town crier competition on a screen
Vanessa Ricketts

Begin with three oyez’s and end with God Save the Queen!

The rules stated that each competitor had to ring their bell and perform their home cry, which must begin with three Oyez’s and end with God Save the Queen! A home cry is a speech about your home town and can only be a maximum of 125 words.

Each town crier was judged on sustained volume, clarity, diction and inflection.

Swanage Town Crier, Andrew Fleming said:

“I decided to perform my home cry at Prince Albert Gardens and it gave me a distinct advantage over others who were sitting in front of a computer indoors. My family helped me set up Zoom and it looked really good.

“I did warn people nearby that I was going to do a bit of town crying. You do have to be careful. On one of my first occasions as a town crier, I shouted outside Boots and I made two ladies jump so much they ended up in the road!”

Swanage Town Crier being filmed via Zoom
Andrew Fleming

Has won the South of England Championship in 2013, 2014, and 2015

Andrew Fleming has been Swanage’s town crier since 2011 and has won the South of England Championship in 2013, 2014, and 2015. During lockdown he has been keeping his voice in fine fettle by leading his neighbours in the Clap for the NHS on Thursday nights in his street, Hillsea Road.

After becoming the first Virtual Town Crier world champion, Andre Fleming said:

“I’m a bit surprised at winning as I’m not a Zoom tech person but it went well without a hitch – it’s certainly one for the CV! It does tickle me a bit. My mother, who’s 91 and lives in the New Forest has been telling all her neighbours about my win.

“It was a lovely occasion, something new and hopefully we can do more in the future. I really enjoyed it and it was a good excuse to celebrate with a few extra ciders that evening!”

Swanage Town Crier at Prince Albert Gardens
Andrew Fleming

Swanage Town Crier’s winning home cry

“Oyez, oyez, oyez!

“Greetings to my fellow Town Criers from Swanage in deepest Dorset nestling between the chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks and the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast.

“Swanage is a quintessential British seaside resort. Splendid scenery, safe sandy shores and swarms of squawking, screeching seagulls.

“The town boasts a steam railway, Victorian Pier, newly restored bandstand, a cornucopia of festivals and the south of England’s busiest Co-op

“It’s the birthplace of Basil Fawlty according to Fawlty Towers, episode 2, the summer home of Enid Blyton, and where I first met my dear wife Anja on holiday from Neustadt am Rubenbirge in Germany.

“Yes you don’t need to die to be in Paradise, instead come to Swanage in Dorset and live!

“God Save the Queen!”

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