Stars dine out at town's Oyster Feast
By Sharon AsplinTELEVISION presenter Dermot O'Leary and writer and broadcaster Sir Bernard Ingham were among the guests enjoying the special taste of Colchester Natives at the town's Oyster Feast.
By Sharon Asplin
TELEVISION presenter Dermot O'Leary and writer and broadcaster Sir Bernard Ingham were among the guests enjoying the special taste of Colchester Natives at the town's Oyster Feast.
They joined the High Sheriff of Essex, the chairman of Essex County Council, mayors, army and police commanders and representatives from Colchester's twin towns at yesterday's event at the Moot Hall.
More residents from the borough also attended the six-course extravaganza this year after Colchester mayor John Bouckley decided to make 10 free tickets available to people in his West Mersea ward in an attempt to open the historic event to a wider audience. Thirty further tickets were also up for grabs in the annual ballot for residents.
Councillors have the right to attend the Oyster Feast and pay for their own tickets, which cost £60 a head.
Speaking about this year's event, Mr Bouckley said: “The demand for tickets to the Oyster Feast has reached an all-time high this year, showing that it continues to be a tradition which is greatly respected by the people of the borough.”
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Sir Bernard, who was formerly press secretary for Margaret Thatcher, spoke at the feast, alongside the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Petre, Dr Philip Hills, formerly of the department of history at Essex University, and MP Bob Marshall-Andrews QC.
The origins of the Oyster Feast are shrouded in mystery, but the earliest record of a civic event involving oysters dates back to 1667.
Meanwhile, a mock re-enactment of the granting of the royal charter for Colchester's oyster fishery by Richard I in 1189, took place yesterday as part of the “Alternative Oyster Feast”.
East of England Euro MP Richard Howitt helped preside over the free dinner for Colchester pensioners at the town's Arena Leisure Centre, organised by Colchester's Labour Party and trade unions.
“This is a piece of innocent fun which complements the history and economic importance of the oyster fishery, with a sense of social responsibility that the feast should be enjoyed by all,” he said.