TOWN crier Simon Shaw is well used to bellowing the news but yesterday he was the news as journalists gathered in Knaresborough’s busy market place to mark his return to work following a nine-week suspension.
Market traders clapped and cheered as he made his way to the market cross, shaking hands with well-wishers and chatting with friends and supporters.
Mr Shaw, who won his job back following an investigation into complaints which have not been made public, was delighted to be ringing his bell again.
“It’s great to be back. I am struggling to put into words what to say but when I came round the corner by the egg man’s stall and everyone cheered and clapped, that was special. Folk have been saying ‘it’s not the same without you’.”
Shopkeepers and other townsfolk gathered round to welcome him back.
He was praised for his commitment to the town and his long-standing charity work.
Mark Lee, 51, landlord of the Old Royal Oak, ventured out to shake Mr Shaw’s hand.
“He’s a credit to the town. He’s passionate about the people and about the town. He has that ability to connect with the tourists and the locals. It was a sad situation when he was suspended.”
Deborah Cronin, 37, who runs a cleaning business in the town, was delighted that stallholders had applauded as he arrived in the market place.
“It’s nice to see him back - he’s been missed. He’s very chatty, he’s got the voice and he is here whatever the weather. And he does charity stuff.”
Market stallholder Jamie Bevan, 20, who runs Simple Catering, was also happy to see Mr Shaw’s return.
“He’s a good laugh and great for business, as well as for charity fund-raising.
“He does the announcements and tourists come and watch him - they find it amazing.”
Mr Bevan said the decision to suspend Mr Shaw was a bad one.
“It was awful; we all found it disgusting. There was no valid reason for it and a lot of people were upset. It was bad for Knaresborough as he is a very talented man.”
Although no official reasons have been given, the suspension followed various complaints surrounding his ebullient and sometimes eccentric behaviour.
Mr Shaw has admitted that his loud and opinionated manner, coupled with his suffering from manic depression, had got him into trouble in the past.
His supporters are now urging him not to go “over the top” when in his official role as town crier.
Jennifer Hunter, of Knaresborough Rotary Club, said “some people in the town” had been “mean and nasty about him” and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.
She said Mr Shaw had occasionally acted in an “OTT manner” while acting as town crier but he deserved another chance.
“He should not have been suspended; he should have been given a slap on the wrist. We have not been told officially what he had done wrong but it has been blown out of all proportion. Some in the town have been very mean and nasty about him. There is a lot of personal prejudice and people had it in for him.”
Among those watching his return to work was former Mayor and town councillor Andrew Willoughby, who had voted against the decision to suspend him back in August.
Mr Willoughby had previously expressed some concerns about Mr Shaw, telling the town council in a letter than he ought to be “better supervised”.
Yesterday he said: “I’m glad to see Simon back; I think he’s alright in small doses. He’s wonderful but he does go on too long.”
Some stallholders share that view.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said: “He’s a very good town crier, very clear and precise. But he sometimes goes a bit too far.
“After his first stint, he does come back but it would be wise not to as the show goes on too long and he gets carried away. He is good-hearted. When you are a town crier people look up to you and you have to behave yourself.”