Town crier quits after Walter Mitty Hunters Club exposes military record sham

Town crier Anthony Church
Town crier Anthony Church
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A town crier has stepped down after admitting to making up a career in the armed forces.

Anthony Church has performed the voluntary role in Thame since 2008 and was also used by Bucks County Council in May 2013 when he patrolled Aylesbury town centre to encourage more people to vote at the elections.

He tendered his resignation to Thame town council clerk Helen Stewart after it was alleged online by the Walter Mitty Hunters Club that he wrongly wore medals including the British Empire Medal.

Mr Church also boasted he had served in the Falklands with the Coldstream Guards.

Mrs Stewart said: “I was very surprised and disappointed.

“It is very unfortunate what has happened and I do not understand why Mr Church made these false claims.

“He has added a lot to Thame and has done a lot of good work in the town.”

Mrs Stewart added a decision on whether to appoint a replacement town crier would be discussed at the next council meeting.

Mr Church, 62, has also resigned from his town crier role in Banbury, Oxford, Chipping Norton and Wallingford and Daventry.

In a statement released to the media, Mr Church said: “I was told several years ago that as the sole-surviving son I was entitled to wear the BEM and put BEM after my name.

“I also wanted, with the anniversary of the Falklands and World War One, to show my solidarity for those people who had served in these campaigns and found a place I could purchase replica medals and purchased a South Atlantic Medal.

“In September I contacted Buckingham Palace on an unrelated matter and received a letter back asking when I had been awarded the BEM.

“I wrote back explaining the situation and was told that I had been misinformed and was in fact not allowed to use the title or wear the medal as it would lead people to assume that I had been awarded the medal, so I immediately removed all medals.

“I realise now that I made a grave error of judgement with this.”

He has now resigned from the Loyal Company of Town Criers and the Ancient and Honorable Guild of Town Criers.

John Robinson, secretary of The Loyal Company of Town Criers said: “We are shocked.

“We were contacted a month ago when we received a complaint that he had been seen wearing military medals so we investigated it and he said it was a one-off and a geniune mistake. He apologised profusely and we thought that was the end of it.

“But when we heard on Sunday what had happened we were trying to get our heads around it.

“It is the fact he said he got the BEM (British Empire Medal) and Imperial Service Medal (ISM) as well but why on earth did he say he was awarded them?

“It is dreadful and I want to feel sorry for him but I can’t.

“He was a good friend of mine but I cannot believe he has been so stupid.

“We have more than 80 members and some of our town criers have military backgrounds themselves.

“Can you imagine how they feel?

“The work he has done has been fantastic for the towns, but it is been blown away by these lies.”

Mr Church’s personal website – www.oyez-oyez-oyez.co.uk – today (Thursday) has a message saying it is ‘currently under maintenance’ and will be ‘back shortly’.

On a link to the Banbury Town Council website, where Mr Church was also a town crier, and which has since been removed, Mr Church described himself as “a fellow of the Loyal Company of Town Criers(FLCTC), a member of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers (MAHGTC) and a member of the European Contingent of Town Criers (ECTC).

“I am also a Fellow of the Britannic Guild of Toastmasters (FBGTM).

“I became a professional toastmaster in 1995 whilst working for Oxford City Council and trained as a butler for their civic and corporate events.

“I was trained under the watchful eye of Alan Myatt who is a professional toastmaster and the town crier of Gloucester and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds loudest crier.

“It was Alan who got me into town crying when he could not fulfil a function in Oxford and asked me to stand in for him, he lent me a hat, a coat and a bell and away I went and the rest is now history.”