Since 1900 there have only been three Town Criers in Beaconsfield: Campbell Shepherd, Harry Leslie and current Town Crier, Dick Smith, who has held the position since 1969. After nearly 40 years in the job and having lived in the area all of his life, Dick is an expert on the local area and its history and has even won awards for his Town Crying in the 1970s at the All England National Town Crying Competition.
As Town Crier, Dick has a packed schedule, whether he is leading town tours during the summer months, giving after-dinner speeches or leading the parade during the Festival of Lights every December. Despite being kept so busy, Dick has no plans to retire from the role, it is as he says, ‘a job for life.’ Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Dick’s career was giving a proclamation for the Queen during the Golden Jubilee celebrations at Windsor in 2002 when his cry of ‘God Save the Queen!’ prompted the biggest cheer of the day. He recalls with amusement that the Queen was heard to wonder, “Where does one find a man with a voice that loud?”
Although Beaconsfield’s residents are no longer reliant on the Town Crier to deliver news as they would have been in the past, the Town Crier remains an integral part of the community and an important ambassador for the town. Beaconsfield’s Town Crier is a link to the past when local people would only have heard about military victories like the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo through the Town Crier. The history tied up in the role is reflected in Dick’s green and gold Georgian period costume that comes complete with white stockings and a black tricorn hat topped with a black ostrich feather.
Dick’s family have been based in and around Beaconsfield for over 400 years so there really is no-one more qualified to promote Beaconsfield and help maintain the sense of community that makes Beaconsfield such a popular place to live.