Morley Town Crier set for 50th anniversary of stage career

Morley Town Crier Steven Holt is unlikely to get stage fright when called on to perform.

By Mark Lavery
Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 4:45 am

For the 66-year-old retired British Gas worker is a dab hand at entertaining audiences after 49 years' treading the boards in amateur theatre.

And despite being a relatively new town crier, Steven is already ensuring his voice is heard on a bigger stage.

He recently came joint third in a national competition for town criers held in Hastings.

Morley Town Cryer Steven Holt outside Morley Town Hall. Photo: Simon Hulme

Steven has been a member of Morley Amateur Operatic Society since he was age 16 in 1972 and has appeared in every production they have staged since.

He has been in more than 100 shows - including 47 pantomimes - and has played a pantio dame for the last 24 years.

Steven's wife Andrea is president of Morley Amateurs and has worked behind the scenes for 35 years

Steven spotted an advert for the new post of Morley Town Crier a couple of years ago and registered his interest.

Morley Town Cryer Steven Holt pictured in one of his many panto dame roles.

"The more I thought about it, the more excited I became by the prospect," he said.

"I was invited to attend an interview with the Mayor of Morley, Coun Andrew Hutchison, and the town clerk.

"I was delighted when my appointment was confirmed at the interview and we ran through a timetable of upcoming events that I would be attending.

"Little did we know back then in February 2020 how those plans and all our lives would change.

Morley Town Cryer Steven Holt outside Morley Town Hall. Photo: Simon Hulme

"I was later heartened when Andrew told me that based on my interview I was definitely the best person for the job.

"He later told me that I was the only person for the job, as no one else had applied!

"It was Andrew's idea to appoint a Morley Town Crier during his term of office as Mayor, and I am immensely proud of the fact that I am Morley's first town crier.

"I made my first cry outside Morley Town Hall on July 2 2020 announcing the re-opening of Morley shops, and thanking the NHS and all the workers in essential services that we all became even more dependent upon.

Knaresborough Town Cryer competition part of the Feva Festival, Knaresborough in August 2021. Morley Town Cryer Steven Holt won best dressed town cryer in the competition. Picture Gerard Binks

"More cries followed celebrating national events and anniversaries, Yorkshire Day and other local celebrations.

"I have been able to make over 20 cries in total, but until very recently all my cries have been made without being announced in advance due to social distancing restrictions.

"On August 15 I attended my first town crier competition in Knaresborough and was delighted to be judged as best dressed crier.

"On Saturday October 16 I ventured a little further and travelled to Hastings to take part in the 68th National Town Crier Competition.

"Each participant had to make two cries, the morning one was the 'home cry' in which the crier extols the virtues of their own town.

The afternoon cry was 'British heroes past and present.' The competition was judged on volume, clarity, diction and inflection."

Morley Town Cryer Steven Holt pictured in one of his many panto dame roles.

Steven said he was "flabbergasted" when he came joint third in the contest and loves his new voluntary role.

"It is brilliant," he said. "It is being creative in the writing of the cries, because we have to write everything ourselves."

Steven added: "I have been grateful that over the last 18 months I have been able to wear my ceremonial regalia, as I have really missed not being able to wear my dresses.

"Next year will mark my 50th year in amateur theatre.

"Morley Amateurs have just started rehearsals again and everyone in the society is looking forward to our production of Red Riding Hood and the three little pigs in February at Morley Town Hall.

"I've also been fortunate to play various roles with other societies in the area.

"The beauty of playing dame means there's no real upper age limit.

" We have got scripts to learn, but you have got that little bit of licence to deviate slightly, particularly as the dame."

Morlety Town Crier Steven Holt pictured playing 'Daddy Warbucks' in a production of Annie.