Oyez! Town crier is best in Europe

COLCHESTER'S official town crier has won international acclaim among his colleagues after scooping top prize at a European competition.Robert Needham battled out the "Oyez" with around 42 other town criers from across the continent at the Europees Kampionschap Bellemannen 2004 in Ninove, Belgium.

By Roddy Ashworth

COLCHESTER'S official town crier has won international acclaim among his colleagues after scooping top prize at a European competition.

Robert Needham battled out the "Oyez" with around 42 other town criers from across the continent at the Europees Kampionschap Bellemannen 2004 in Ninove, Belgium.

The big-voiced entrants were asked to prepare and deliver three different cries for the contest.


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These were on the subjects of their own home towns, an item on Flandersland and a piece about Beligian beer.

After two days of competition, the judging panel whittled the competition down to 12 entrants for the Grand Final.

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A tight battle followed which ultimately saw a tie for first place between Mr Needham and the town crier from Lyme Regis, Dorset, Philip Street – both scoring 329 points.

To settle the draw, the two men agreed to a further one-on-one contest the next day.

Taking place in front of the Ninove City hall – in front of a crowd of spectators – they faced each other for a "cry off."

After much deliberation, the judging panel stretched Mt Needham's score to 333.9 points and he was declared European Town Crier Champion – a title he will hold for two years.

"I am so pleased about this result. Four days of competition had taken its toll, and some of the competitors experienced failing voices as the championship reached its final stage," explained Mr Needham.

"This is really something exceptional for Colchester. Our town is getting an ever-increasing profile.

"Now it extends across Europe as well."

Yesterday Colchester Mayor Chris Hall praised Mr Needham and congratulated him for his success.

"It is absolutely first class," said Dr Hall. "It is very impressive indeed. I should like to say well done to him for the considerable achievement of becoming Eurpean champion.

"He is an excellent advertisement for Colchester, and yet he hasn't asked the council for a penny, not even for his costume. It is most fantastic."

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