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National Town Criers Championship, 1952, winner was Ben Johnson from Fowey, Cornwall.

Fowey's long-standing town crier who is now set to retire has been honoured for his generous service to the port spanning nearly forty years.

Michael Penprase has been bestowed the Freedom of Fowey joining an exclusive few who have also been granted the title of Freeman by the town council and former borough council before him.

After taking over as crier in 1978 from Ben Johnson, who had held the post since 1935, Mr Penprase recently put away his bell and regalia for the very last time following his services of proclaiming the virtues of Fowey for some 37 years.

The dedicated town crier who was often seen around the boutique hotels Cornwall's hidden gem - Fowey - offers, has been an ever-present at events and civic ceremonies throughout his time in the role, and on Sunday in the town hall there was a surprise ceremony of his own.

Mayor Ruth Finlay declared that Mr Penprase had made a substantial contribution to the town and the town council was thrilled to confer on him the title that truly recognises the service he had given so proudly to Fowey.

Mr Penprase said it was a great honour to be awarded the Freedom of Fowey, and he could not have carried out the role as town crier without the support of his wife Celia.

"She's been with me through thick and thin, I simply couldn't have done it without her.

"Celia has written my speeches, kept the regalia spotless and basically done everything possible to keep me going, and even put up with me when I've been a naughty boy.

"I also have my children and grandchildren to thank for their support.''

Mr Penprase said he had very much enjoyed his time as town crier.

"I've loved every minute of it,'' he said, reminding the Cornish Guardian of the time he and its chief reporter were somehow allowed into Downing Street during a protest march against cottage hospital closures, and he proceeded to ring his bell and proclaim loud and clear what he thought of the impending closures outside Number 10.

"It's been a marvellous time. I've met so many people, including royalty and prime ministers and heroes like Simon Weston, who was badly injured in the Falklands War, and whom I found to be a wonderful man.

"But after 37 years, I've had my final shout,'' he said.


Phil Sellens under Creative Commons

Tagged under: Fowey   Cornwall   News