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Hear ye, hear ye! UK’s top town criers vie for crown
BANBURY’s streets will ring with the sound of the annual town criers’ competition and street organ festival today.
Hundreds are expected at the 10th town criers’ competition, when 25 town criers from all over the country go head to head.
It will also tie in with the 21st street organ festival, where up to 20 street organists will dress up in Victorian costumes and play popular songs to raise money for charity.
This year’s charity, chosen by the mayor of Banbury, is BHYP, which supports homeless young people and those at risk of becoming homeless.
Banbury town crier Anthony Church said he was looking forward to the event.
The 61-year-old from Cowley said: “We have to keep these kinds of traditions alive. Banbury has always been a town that has put on lots of events and it’s important to keep that going.
“I’m feeling good about it.”
The town criers’ competition will start at 11am in the band stand in High Street with the first judging, followed by another at 2pm.
Criers will be judged on a range of specifications, such as how loudly and clearly they can cry, and the winner will receive a trophy at the finish.
The street organ festival will run from 9.30am until 3.30pm across the town centre.
Banbury Town Council has organised the event and a spokeswoman said it brings “colour” and “fun”
to the town.
One organist who will be taking part is John Webb, from Twyford, near Banbury.
The 70-year-old said: “I want to raise about £200 – but it all depends on the weather.
“You can’t take street organs outside when it’s raining because it will get the sheet music wet.”
Mr Webb has taken part in the festival since it started 21 years ago and dresses up in a Union Jack suit.
Town mayor Nicholas Turner, who will be at the festival, said it is “quintessentially English”.
He said: “It’s great to see people celebrating something of yesteryear.
“People come from all over the country and the effort everyone goes to is fantastic.”
He added that BHYP, which helps young people to avoid becoming homeless and offers them support if they already have, does important work.
He said: “They’ve done a very good job, and because it’s an independent charity it’s one that young people feel they can approach.”
Anna Day, chief executive of BHYP, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected.
“The funds raised from it are vital and we need this support now more than ever.”
The day will end with a dinner in the town hall for the dozens of criers and organists, hosted by the town mayor.
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