The 15th July 2023 saw the great and the good of the AHGTC membership gather for the now once again annual Championship, this year in Calne in Wiltshire. After much deliberation, the decision was made to hold the competition indoors. Rain and high winds were forecast and we just didn’t have enough Scouts to hold down the gazebos!
Despite this, we attempted to gather outside Calne Library for a group photo and to process around the town, only to be immediately driven back inside by a sudden downpour. Undeterred, we ventured forth again once the rain had passed, and had not one but three photo calls as photographers from different papers – both local and national – turned up at different times. The procession set off with the mayor and the Guild Standard to the fore, and we processed around the town to the delight and often bemusement of the townsfolk. There was a slight pang of regret as we passed over the River Marden by Beach Terrace, which was the original venue for the competition, the sun now fully out and defiant.
Calne Town Hall is blessed with a long, beautifully wood-panelled Large Hall, allowing for sufficient distance from the judges for the event to remain true to the AHGTC Competition Rules. And so, only a few minutes later than advertised, we began round one, the Home Town Cry. We were delighted to have four international criers among the 29 competitors – Ed Christopher from Hamilton in Bermuda, Jim Stewart from New Glasgow in Nova Scotia, Mike Willet from the City of Victor Harbor in South Australia, and Jeff Evans from Holyhead, Anglesea, Wales! Jeff had only recently joined the Guild, and it was a real pleasure to welcome him and all the criers to Calne.
After a hearty lunch, round two got underway. The theme of the round was Cry Me A River. Just beforehand, the Mayor, Cllr Robert MacNaughton, explained why he is passionate about UK rivers in general and the Marden in particular. This really set the scene for the cries to come, with many competitors picking up this theme and developing it. Of course, the whole point of a vague title for the cry was to get variety, and we had plenty of that, with many excellent and amusing cries.
The Best Themed Cry, chosen by Cllr MacNaughton, went to Ros Charlton-Chard from Hatherleigh:
Best Dressed Crier was won by Tony Evans from Tetbury, our esteemed President, who became the first to win the newly-commissioned trophy, presented by our chairman Christian Ashdown:
Best Dressed Consort was won by Jennifer Smirthwaite from Liskeard:
Jenny was shocked when I asked her to stay where she was before announcing the Best Dressed Couple as Chris and Jennifer Smirthwaite:
The positions for Best Crier had to be decided by a cry off. Davide Hinde and John Griffiths were asked to cry again, each performing their Home Town Cry for the judges. After the closest decision, Third Place went to David Hinde from Helmsley…
..and Second Place went to John Griffiths from Sleaford:
There is a unique award presented at the Guild Championship. The Bob Walker Shield is given to the highest placed crier who has never before won a competition held under the AHGTC Competition Rules. This year, the honours went to David Green from Torpoint:
And finally. The moment you have all been waiting for. The winner, and new AHGTC Champion is… Terry Ford from Otley! Terry won the George Carpenter Cup as well as the Two Johns Trophy, which is presented to the winner at every Calne competition.
Congratulations Terry, and to all the winners. Thank you to all who competed. You did yourselves, your towns, cities, boroughs, and the Guild proud. See you next year in Montgomery!