Parkes Shire Town Crier reaches milestone

Parkes Shire Town Crier, Tim Keith, delivered his 250th cry at the Reading Day ceremony in Cooke Park. Today he is competing in the Annual National Town Crier Championships in West Wyalong.
Parkes Shire Town Crier, Tim Keith, delivered his 250th cry at the Reading Day ceremony in Cooke Park. Today he is competing in the Annual National Town Crier Championships in West Wyalong.

On the back of celebrating his 250th cry as Parkes Shire Town Crier, Tim Keith is today competing in the 26th Annual National Town Crier Championships in West Wyalong.

Tim gave his 250th cry at the Reading Day ceremony in Cooke Park on August 18. 

“This year’s theme was friends, so I wrote a rhyme about friendship,” Tim said.

“I always do the one for reading day in rhyme as it’s part of the ‘Read, Talk, Sing and Rhyme to Your Baby Every Day’ theme.” 

Tim will compete against 18 Town Criers from across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Each will deliver two cries.

“The first one is a home cry about your own town and what’s good about it,” Tim said.

“The second is a host cry, a story you’ve written about the hospitality and history of the host town.

This year’s theme is “Hearts of Gold”. 

“In the 1920s around 10 miners were killed at Lake Cowal Gold Mine and the community rallied behind their families and gave support for all their children right through until they finished high school, so I’ve incorporated that in the story as the Hearts of Gold,” Tim said. 

A panel of guest judges assess the Town Criers across a number of categories including diction and inflection, bearing and confidence, sustained volume and clarity, accuracy and content as well as best dressed and best scroll.

A member of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Australian Town Criers, Tim said the event is like a family reunion.

“We only see each other once a year, so it’s great to catch up with everyone,” he said.

“Everyone is there to do their best and hopefully win, but everyone is there to also help each other. It’s a guild, we all want everyone to be the best that they can as Town Criers.”

Tim has been in the ceremonial role for 21 years and averages 11 or 12 cries a year. 

His career highlights include delivering cries at NSW Governor, Governor General and Department of Foreign Affairs Consular visits.  Tim has even cried inside Parliament House. 

He has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“I want to get to at least 300 cries or 25 years, whichever comes second.” Tim said.

“I love it. I love meeting people and mixing with people, being able to represent our town and give it a bit of notoriety. You go to some civic receptions and they’ve never seen a Town Crier. It’s a bit of fun and it’s always interesting.”