Town crier goes national with mentions in New York Times, Have I got News For You and The Guardian

Bognor’s town crier has gone national this week, with mentions in major publications like The Guardian and The New York Times and TV’s Have I got News For You.

The newspapers and TV shows featured the town crier to get her take on changes made to the National Town Criers Championship, which will now be judged on the quality of written entries, rather than traditionally performed cries, as a result of restrictions introduced during Covid-19.

Mrs Jane Smith, who also acts as the secretary of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers, said the attention seemed to come out of nowhere.

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“Because my email address is given out on anything to do with guild, I get all sorts of people emailing me asking me to talk about the competition,” she said.

Jane Smith - Bognor Regis Town Crier. Pic S Robards SR2104281 SUS-210428-162440001

This was despite the fact that the competition is organised by a separate organisation of town criers, one with which Mrs Smith has no association.

“I had to very politely email back and say, well actually, it’s not anything to do with us.”

After finding out more about Mrs Smith, though, the newspapers agreed to chat to her. “It all sort of happened by default, if you like.” Mrs Smith said.

“It was kind of surreal to see that all in there.”

Because it is hosted by a different organisation – The Loyal Company of Town Criers – Mrs Smith won’t actually be participating in the National Championships, which are due to be held between May 10 and 16 .

Even so, she is curious about how exactly this year’s championships will work with the planned changes.

“If you write a cry for yourself, you know where you’re going to put your inflection and you know the way that cry is going to flow.,” she said.

“So, for someone to write it where it’s not even going to be spoken, it’s just going to be read, I think that’s a really difficult thing to do.

“At the end of the day, we’re town criers. We ring our bells and shout at people.

“I think it’s great that they’re raising money for charity and everything, but I don’t think I – personally – would have entered anyway.”