A FEMALE town crier has been appointed for the first time in Melksham, which will go down in the town’s history books.
Jax Brady became the new town crier when she won the town council’s competition at this year’s Food and River Festival. She takes over from the revered Peter Dauncey, who was in the role for 16 years.
“I am so excited to be town crier, it’s a very male dominated world!” says Jax. “There are 150 town criers in the UK and only 20 of them are female – 21 now! It’s something I have always liked the look of. It looks so much fun and you get to get out and talk to people. I asked the town council if women could apply when I saw the competition advertised and they said absolutely, so I went for it!
“I found that the first recorded female town crier was in the 1600s in Scotland and it was just then a job and there were three consecutive females before a man took over.
‘Give it my all’
“I thought, I am going to give it my all. I am quite loud anyway and I am very theatrical, I do a lot of theatre locally, so it just appealed to me. I liked the idea of the costume and the bell and the shouting. I also really like the history and looking at how we can take that forward to keep it relevant, to keep the historical elements, but also appeal to the now.”
Through being a female town crier, Jax says this is one way of bringing the traditions into the 21st century “The people now are history tomorrow, so it’s quite a big historical thing to have a female town crier,” she said. “There’s no way on earth I am going to follow in Peter’s footsteps, he did it so long and did it so well, so I am going to have to make it my own.
“I can remember as a little girl watching the carnival and watching all the events in Melksham and thinking I would really like to do that and I was actually quite moved on the audition day when a little girl got up and said she wanted to have a go. I thought, ‘I wonder if she knows it’s not normally girls and women who do these things.’”
Inspire the next generation
In her day job, Jax works at Lacock C of E Primary School, as a high-level TA, Emotional Learning Support and the family liaison worker, as well as the deputy designated safeguard lead.
Through her new role in the community, Jax, who also owned a sweet shop in the town for several years, is keen to inspire the next generation.
“She explained, “I have a really big heart for young people, I did a lot of work at Canberra [children’s centre] voluntarily and obviously had the sweet shop in town. In my new role I’ll do anything I can, I’d like to open school fetes, attend school plays, or speak in an assembly.”
Jax says she has had encouraging feedback from the pupils and parents at the school where she works. She said, “A lot of the parents have since said they’ve seen my new role. I have also had a lot of support from women saying it’s a really good thing and nice to be represented.”