York & North Yorkshire

First woman hornblower appointed to set watch in Ripon

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Media captionAllison Clark is Ripon's first appointed female hornblower

A female hornblower has set the watch in a North Yorkshire city for the first time in centuries of the traditional ceremony.

The hornblower has set the watch in the city every night since 886, by blowing a horn at the four corners of the obelisk in Market Square at 21:00 BST.

The horn is then blown three times outside the mayor's house.

Ripon City Council advertised for a new recruit and took on Allison Clark and Richard Midgley in a job share.

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Mrs Clark said: "It's a great honour and really nice to be keeping this tradition alive in this lovely city.

"I think it's just so unique and so different and a great honour to be chosen."

"It is a very diverse role," she added.

Image caption Richard Midgley said it was "a dream to be part of the living history of Ripon"

The new hornblowers will join two others and between them they will cover every night of the year.

The job was carried out by a single person until 2015 when the council decided to appoint several hornblowers.

It had encouraged women to apply, saying it was keen on equal opportunities.

Mr Midgley said: "It's a dream come true, it was something I always had aspirations to do as a child growing up in Ripon, seeing the hornblower come to the school and give talks on history and the traditions of the city.

"It is a dream to be part of the living history and bring it to life to other people."

The job description stated the hornblower be paid £8.72 an hour and £21.12 to attend civic events.

The tradition is said to go back to when Alfred the Great visited Ripon and gave a horn to the city as a symbol of it being granted a Royal Charter.

The original horn is kept in the town hall.

Council clerk Paula Benson said Mrs Clark was the first woman to be given the job of hornblower, although a woman had previously stood in for her father and blown the horn on occasion.

Image copyright Ripon City Council
Image caption There are now four hornblowers who will cover the ceremony for every night of the year

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