‘Oyez, Oyez, Oyez’ - Ely’s town crier pays visit to March Rotary Club

CRIES of “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez” echoed around March Conservative Club on Monday as Ely’s official town crier paid a visit.

Avril Hayter-Smith and her husband Graham - the official keeper of the bell - dropped in to give a talk to March Rotary Club’s weekly meeting.

Mrs Hayter-Smith, who has held the position for almost 10 years, told the members that becoming town crier had happened “by accident”.

In 2002, Ely Town Council decided to reintroduce the role after a lapse of 50 years. They invited candidates to audition in public, before a panel of eight judges.

With women holding rank on the town council, Mrs Hayter-Smith questioned why there shouldn’t be a female town crier. She was duly elected.

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In 2005, Mrs Hayter-Smith won a competition for criers and she was invited to compete in the Town Crier European Championships - taking place in Cromer.

The traditional opening shout of “Oyez” is Norman French for “Hear Me”. The shout always end with “God Save The Queen” and the earliest reference to a crier in Ely was in 1636, when two pence was paid for him to shout against the draining of the Fens.

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A vote of thanks was given by David Hill, from the club, for an evening which left the audience “informed and thoroughly entertained”.

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