Victor Harbor Town Crier Mike Willett turns 80

Victor Harbor Town Crier Mike Willett in full costume at the railway station to welcome visitors to the area.
Victor Harbor Town Crier Mike Willett in full costume at the railway station to welcome visitors to the area.

Victor Harbor Town Crier Mike Willett has this year celebrated his 80th birthday, but age seems no barrier for this happy, energetic and enthusiastic volunteer who continues to hail this region as one of the most 'livable places' in the world.

Mike Willett was born in St Albans in the UK during the Second World War and most of his early schooling was undertaken at St Albans County Grammar School for boys.

After finishing school, Mike worked in various places and tried his hand at numerous vocations. From factory work, sales representative, office work and as a professional musician, it seemed nothing was too hard to tackle and young Mike with his love of aeroplanes finally settled as an Engine Fitter in The Royal Airforce in Britain.

In 1961, he decided to take a break and headed for New Zealand where he stayed and worked for 20 years.

It was in Auckland, New Zealand that Mike started his 30 year career in the commercial airline industry which saw him working in areas of traffic managing to State Manager for the airline. In 1981 he re-located with his job to Melbourne.

In 1994 after redundancy in the airline industry, Mike purchased a couple of small retail businesses in Gisborne Victoria, a toy shop and the other an office supply retail outlet.

He enjoyed the community life and was soon elected as president of the local business association in Gisborne. This was a town that had been hit hard in the tourism area due to a bypass road that had been built.

In 1998, it was suggested that it would be a good idea to appoint a Town Crier to promote tourism in this region and Mike jumped at the chance to be able to promote the area and so began his career as a Town Crier.

In 2001, he was appointed as Town Crier for the Shire of Macedon Ranges which incorporated the Gisborne region as well. In 2007, Mike Willett decided on a complete change of lifestyle and moved to China where he stayed for four years while working for two large international schools in the area of event management in both Shanghai and Donguan.

In 2011, Mike returned to Australia and settled in Victor Harbor with his wife Sue and he immediately became a valuable member of this community with involvement in various organisations.

He joined the volunteer team at 90.1 Happy FM community radio station where he continues to broadcast a couple of times a week. In 2011, Mike was made an honorary Town Crier by the City of Victor Harbor Council.

He still holds this position, which is reviewed every second year and during his tenure he has attended hundreds of official functions in the capacity of Town Crier; always smartly dressed in his distinctive town crier uniform comprising of a long red jacket embossed in gold and carrying his large metal bell that he rings loudly to alert the crowds at an event, festival, market or a happening in this region.

Mike has represented Victor Harbor in many Town Crier events locally, interstate and overseas.

"I love people, I love communicating and there's a similarity in the town crier field where you are communicating constantly with people" Mike said.

Mike can be regularly seen at the Beachside Markets at Victor Harbor and he also runs walking tours that allow him to promote the history of this region that he has so embraced.

In 2020, Mike was scheduled to travel overseas to the United Kingdom to attend the Sir Francis Drake Memorial three day event, however due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled, but he hopes to be able to represent Victor Harbor as Town Crier in 2021 at the same event as well as in Nova Scotia, Canada for a World Invitational competition.

He is one of only 25 in the world invited to attend this prestigious event. In 2018, Mike travelled to the UK to attend four Town Crier competitions along with Criers from UK, Canada, and Bermuda.

The highlight of the trip was the Anniversary Championship of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers, of which Mike is a member, held in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

For down time, Mike Willett enjoys stamp collecting, restoring old motor bikes and pottering in the garden.

His family is so important to him and although some do not live close, he enjoys the catch-ups and video streaming. He is father of three children and two grandchildren and Sue has two children and one grandchild.

For Victor Harbor's popular Town Ccrier there is no let up as he continues to promote and represent this beautiful region not just to the locals, but to visitors from around the world..

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