Tributes paid to Sheringham’s first Town Crier Tony Nelson who passed away hours before he was due to be recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours
- Credit: � ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC
Tributes have been paid to Sheringham's first Town Crier, Tony Nelson, who passed away - just hours before he was due to be publicly recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
He has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) 'for services to the community'.
Mr Nelson, who was also a former chairman of Sheringham Little Theatre, served in the role of Town Crier for 29 years until his retiral last summer.
He was a familiar face throughout the town where he played a leading role in the annual Carnival.
A spokesperson for Sheringham Carnival said: 'It was with enormous sadness that we learned of the death of a Sheringham legend, Tony Nelson, earlier today (Friday).
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'Tony was the town's first Town Crier, from 1987 until 2016, and a magnificent friend to the Carnival - not just through supporting all our events with his famed enthusiasm but as a past committee member, confidant, and colleague.
'He had an extensive collection of Carnival photographs which he freely and generously shared through the Carnival Archive project, which so epitomised his love of the event and the town.
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'His contribution over so many years cannot ever be expressed in words alone, so we were honoured to make him the face of our 2016 programme, marking his retirement as our Town Crier that year.
'Along with so many others in the town, we will miss him terribly, and we send our condolences to his wife Hilary, family and very many friends in Sheringham and way beyond.'
A mural of the Town Crier was painted on a wall in the town centre in recognition of his service.
Speaking in 2012, Mr Nelson said he had done the job for so long because he enjoyed it.
He added: 'It's one of those jobs where it's difficult to get the sack. And I do a lot of singing, so the crying complements that. Singing keeps me permanently warmed up for town crying and vice versa.'
He began as a Sheringham Carnival novelty, when officials wanted a temporary Town Crier to add to the festivities.
Mr Nelson, who was succeeded in the role by local insurance broker Andrew Cunningham-Brown, also said he loved the opportunities his role afforded to meet locals and visitors to Sheringham, saying: 'You become a tourist office on legs'.
Town criers, or bellmen as they were sometimes known, were the original newsmen. Usually people of standing in the community were chosen as criers as they had to be able to write and read official proclamations.
Announcements are preceded by the cry of oyez, oyez, oyez, which is French for listen, and concludes with God save the Queen.
Mr Nelson was also instrumental in securing the future of the town's theatre.
Sheringham Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: 'It is with such sorrow that we hear of the very sad loss of our dear friend Tony Nelson. Tony was one of the very important people who was responsible for The Little Theatre still being here today.
'He was one of the original founders of The Little Theatre Society in the 1970s and he was a tremendous long-serving past chairman. He was responsible for securing one of the first ever Lottery grants, in the early 1990s, that totally refurbished the building and saved the Theatre.
'Tony was a great support and adviser but more than all this, he was a great friend and all our thoughts are with Hilary and his family.'