Daventry Town Crier quits role

Anthony Church at the Christmas Lights Switch on in 2012
Anthony Church at the Christmas Lights Switch on in 2012

Daventry Town Crier Anthony Church has quit his role after admitting wrongly wearing military medals and lying about serving in the Coldstream Guards.

Mr Church has apologised for a ‘grave error of judgement’ after being exposed on Facebook by a group calling themselves the Walter Mitty Hunters Club.

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 what had happened on Sunday 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 is accused of falsely using medals including the British Empire Medal, the South Atlantic Medal and General Service Medal with Northern Ireland clasp.

The 62-year-old – who over the past 12 years has also worked as a town crier in Banbury, Oxford, Thame, Chipping Norton and Wallingford – does not have a military background.

It is reported he also admitted once lying to Jim Lewendon, the county chairman of the Royal British Legion, telling him that he had served in the Coldstream Guards.

While the Royal British Legion said medals awarded to a deceased service/ex-service person may be worn on the right breast by a near relative, Mr Church wore the medals he acquired on the left.

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.”

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