Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Chelsea Pensioner heeds town crier's call for Echuca visit

Campaspe and Murray shires town crier Judy Campbell was visited by her friend, Chelsea pensioner Michael Shanahan on Monday.

RENEE THOMPSON May 1, 2014 3:20am

Campaspe and Murray Shire town crier Judy Campbell with visiting Chelsea Pensioner Michael Shanahan.

Chelsea pensioner Michael Shanahan and Campaspe and Murray shire town crier Judy Campbell made a striking pair in their traditional ceremonial attire on Monday.

Mr Shanahan is one of 300 Chelsea Pensioners who live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a retirement home for former members of the British Army in London.

He said every Remembrance Day, Chelsea Pensioners took part in parades across the UK.

‘‘We represent the Queen, the British Army and the country,’’ he said.

‘‘When we march up into Albert Hall, everyone stands up, including the Queen.’’

Mr Shanahan is on a three-week trip to Australia and took up an invitation from Mrs Campbell to come to Echuca this week.

His visit has included taking part in the Scottish Australian Veterans march during the Anzac Day parade in Melbourne.

Mrs Campbell said she first met Mr Shanahan in Canada in 2001.

‘‘We kept meeting up in various countries and I kept saying, ‘You’ve come this far, you’ve just got to come a bit further to Australia and you get to see this wonderful expanse’,’’ she said.

‘‘Mike was town crier for Bishop’s Castle when we met. Mike used to be a piper and used to pipe us into competitions.’’

This year, Mrs Campbell is celebrating 20 years as a town crier for Murray and Campaspe shires.

She said she became a town crier because ‘‘in ancient Australian tradition, I was dobbed in’’.

‘‘Through the Port of Echuca, we were doing re-enactments of the closing down of the brothel and I played a temperance lady,’’ she said.

‘‘I was haranguing people from one end of the street to the other and they could hear my voice and that’s how I got dobbed in for it.’’

The pair have continued to meet up all over the world and have become good friends.

‘‘(In the UK) they had a fancy dress night where we swapped uniforms. I went in as the piper and Mike went in as the crier from Echuca,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

‘‘He was trying to do my kookaburra call and I was trying to play his bagpipes.

‘‘Now we have this other link where Mike’s a Chelsea pensioner and my son’s training in the army to be a parachute rigger.

‘‘It takes our bond another little step.’’

Their next meeting is likely to be in August when Mrs Campbell goes to the UK to compete in the Chester Invitational Town Crier Tournament.

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