Graham is "over the moon" to be declared the best town crier's escort in the UK

PUBLISHED: 08:49 03 November 2011

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AFTER years of staying in the background, the husband of Ely's champion Town Crier has taken centre stage, by being been declared the top town crier's escort in the UK.

Graham Hayter-Smith - who has been supporting his wife Avril since 2004 - has been recognised by the Royal Company of Town Criers, and will receive the Bill Phillips Marshall Trophy at a ceremony in Coventry later this month.

Graham said: “It was a wonderful surprise, I just could not believe it when I first heard; it is an international award and a great honour. I am really thrilled; I am over the moon.”

As Avril’s escort, Graham is the “Keeper of the Bell,” and carries Avril’s bell when she takes to the stand at competitions and events.

Nominating Graham for the award, Stafford town crier Peter Taunton said: “I have been honoured to attend quite a few of the town crier competitions held in Ely and on every occasion he has been exemplary.”

Graham, who works at City Cycle Centre, added: “There are only two or three male town crier escorts in the country.” Avril runs the Voluntary Community Action in Ely.

Avril and Graham met on Ely railway station back in 2002 when she shouted at the arrival of the Cathedrals Express steam train.

Graham began acting as Avril’s escort in 2004, and they were married in 2005. Graham added: “It is just brilliant fun escorting Avril, town criers are an amazing group of people.”

Graham and Avril, who live in Little Downham, run a town crier competition in Ely every year, which attracts town criers from all around the country. They are already searching for sponsors for the event to be held in early May 2012.

For a £100 donation, a specific town crier will be allocated to shout for a sponsor; while smaller donations will lead to Avril shouting the names of sponsors as she tours the city.

Anyone wanting to sponsor the town crier competition can contact Graham and Avril on 01353 699396.

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