Video: Booming Martin stands loud and proud as new Bungay town crier

Auditions for new Bungay town Crier won by Martin Payne.
The new Bungay Town Crier Martin Payne.
Auditions for new Bungay town Crier won by Martin Payne. The new Bungay Town Crier Martin Payne.

Monday, May 5, 2014
6:30 AM

It was a job interview like no other as one brave candidate took hold of the town crier’s bell and shouted “oyez, oyez, oyez” for all of Bungay to hear.

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Auditions for new Bungay town Crier won by Martin Payne.
(Left to right) David Bullock, Judy Cloake, les Knowles, Martin Payne and Michael Davies.Auditions for new Bungay town Crier won by Martin Payne. (Left to right) David Bullock, Judy Cloake, les Knowles, Martin Payne and Michael Davies.

Spectators flocked to the Butter Cross in Bungay town centre on Saturday to see whose lungs were strong enough to be crowned the winner of the town crier competition and continue the long-running tradition.

The competition was called following the retirement of town crier Les Knowles in December last year, who held the position for almost 11 years.

Fifty-eight-year-old Martin Payne, who was the only competitor to cry at the event, was asked to recite a short speech in front of the crowd, welcoming the residents of Bungay and finishing with God save the Queen.

Just moments later Mr Payne was crowned the winner of the competition and was handed the town crier’s cloak, hat and bell to begin his duties.

Mr Payne, who said it was an honour to be chosen, said: “I’m a third generation Punch and Judy man so I’m used to projecting my voice.

“I’m semi-retired so I travel around Norfolk and Suffolk quite a lot and love visiting Bungay. I thought it would be good to get involved in the local heritage and traditions of the town and I am honoured to have been chosen.

“I think it is a great privilege and I’m looking forward to being an ambassador for the town.”

The competition was judged by town mayor Judy Cloke and town reeve Michael Davies, with help from the town crier of Norwich David Bullock and former Bungay town crier Mr Knowles.

Although the role of a town crier goes back many centuries, Bungay has had one more modernly for the past 21 years – a tradition that Mrs Cloke and Mr Davies were keen to keep alive.

The role involves accompanying the mayor and town reeve in the execution of their public engagements.

The town crier is expected to be available to make announcements on behalf of the mayor or town reeve at a number of events including street fairs, the town dinner or the formal opening of a building, and there will also be occasions where he will be required to make public announcements in the town.

Despite only having one competitor, Mr Davies said he thought they had found the perfect man for the job.

He said: “He read the speech very well, his voice was loud and clear and we were very impressed.

“He is extremely keen and the fact that he is semi-retired means he will be available when we need him.”

Mr Davies also thanked Mr Knowles for his service as town crier and said he had “done the town proud.”

The late David Hollis became Bungay’s first modern day town crier in 1993, followed by Mr Knowles. Both men were chosen through public competitions.

The position is voluntary although there is a small honorarium, which is jointly split between Bungay Town Council and the Town Trust. An allowance is also made for expenses such as the cleaning of the robe.

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