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Sidney’s town crier to mark D-Day anniversary

It’s a tradition that links to history and brings smiles to faces
Sidney’s town crier will be at the local Cenotaph on Thursday, June 6 to honour D-Day. (Contributed)

Kenny Podmore has been Sidney’s official town crier for more than 21 years and although he’s now 81 years old, his voice is still as clear and imposing as the peel of the large hand bell he sounds to draw attention to his announcements.

Not that Podmore has any problem in commanding a crowd’s attention.

His colorful period outfit, complete with top hat, white gloves, tricorn hat, and buckled shoes, grabs the attention of townsfolk with his every appearance.

“I always get a reaction,” Podmore said. “I write my own proclamations and I try to inject some humour when it’s appropriate, or sometimes I’ll even write it as poetry.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the tradition of a town crier (more’s the pity) here’s a bit of background information.

Town criers were the way folks used to get their important information, back in the days before 24-hour news networks, social media, and other more familiar media. They would venture into the public square (or other gathering places) with shouts of “oyez, oyez, oyez!” (that’s French for “hear ye”) and make their announcements. They would then nail their proclamation to a post so that the handful of literate townsfolk could read the message again. That’s where the term “posting a message” comes from.

And although some may claim much earlier beginnings, town criers are generally considered to have begun in Britain after the Norman invasion of 1066.

“Queen Victoria decreed that the town crier was a representative of the Crown and any attack on them was considered treason. It was literally a warning not to shoot the messenger,” Podmore said.

Podmore got his start in England where he was a town crier but, when he emigrated to Canada, it took a little while for him to garner the position in Sidney.

“I entered the World Championship (for town criers) in 1997 and although I didn’t win, I met this amazing lady in Sidney at about the same time. I didn’t win that competition, but I did win a bride,” Podmore said.

After that, he was invited to me the honorary town crier and when the official town crier passed away, he was installed as the official crier for the seaside community.

Since that time, Podmore has been a fixture in Sidney, announcing all manner of proclamations that range from the opening of the Summer Market to the Queens Diamond Jubilee.

His next appearance will be to proclaim the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing.

The tribute will be taking place at the war memorial at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney on June 6th at 11 a.m.

“There will be myself, two veterans and one pipers, so it’s not going to be a huge event, but it’s still an important one,” said Podmore. “I’m so blessed to be able to do this and to represent a beautiful town like Sidney. Tourists love it, and I get a lot of smiles, and, in the end, this is a tradition that is important to keep alive.”

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