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Belinda Carlisle

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Ilkley to host National Town Crier Competition

Ilkley will hold a prestigious National Town Crier Competition in May, welcoming town criers from across the country to compete against each other under the watchful eyes of the local judges.

The event on Saturday 13 May is being organised and funded by the Ilkley Business Improvement District and will be hosted by Ilkley’s own town crier, Isabel Ashman.

The judges include Mark Stidworthy, Ilkley Mayor; Samantha Hill, President of Ilkley Playhouse and Ian White, Chair of Ilkley BID.

The official proceedings will begin at 11am at the bandstand. Prior to this the town criers will parade on foot from Ilkley Town Hall along The Grove ringing their bells and greeting people in town.

Following a benchmark ‘home cry’ from Ms Ashman, the first official cry by the competing town criers will be their home cries, extolling the virtues of where they live in 100-140 words to the audience.

The criers will then travel on a vintage open top bus around Ilkley and to the Riverside Park for more ‘meets and greets’.

The second cry will take place at 2.30pm at the bandstand. Each town crier has been allocated a local Ilkley business to research and their task is to deliver a cry about that particular business that entertains and enlightens the audience. Some of the businesses include Lishman’s of Ilkley, Mortens, Ilkley Cinema and Outside the Box.

Each of the cries will be judged and marked for clarity, diction, delivery and entertainment, and the town crier with the highest overall mark will be declared the winner and win a top prize of £100. There will also be a prize for the Best Dressed Town Crier.

Local primary schools have been invited to participate in a junior competition with Ms Ashman visiting the schools in the coming weeks to talk about her role as Ilkley Town Crier. She will also be providing the school with its own tricorn hat and bell for the children to be able to practice in advance prior to the day.

Ilkley BID Project Coordination, Lisa Drake, said: “Did you know that a group of town criers is called a ‘bellow of criers’? We’re excited to welcome this bellow to our town and we’re sure that it will be a tremendous spectacle seeing so many town criers dressed in their regalia. We’re hoping that lots of Ilkley residents and visitors come out to enjoy the occasion and show their support for the town criers and their themed cries.”

Ilkley Town Crier, Isabel Ashman, said: “I’m delighted that we are hosting a national competition in Ilkley and I’m looking forward to welcoming my fellow town criers to the town for this friendly contest. It’s wonderful that the local community is involved and I’m excited to hear the themed cries of the competitors as well as the performances of the school children who are participating.”

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