Rest assured children of Palmerston North, Lyal Brenton has two eyes and he's not a pirate.
But he is the city's newish town crier.
Brenton replaced long-serving town crier Caroline Robinson, who died in 2019. His first official gig was at last year's World Fair Day but due to Covid-19 he was not busy last year.
His diary is getting fuller now with an appearance at Explore Esplanade Day last month and he emceed his first citizenship ceremony for Palmerston North City Council earlier this month.
Brenton is contracted to the council to participate in ceremonies it wants him to. He also leads graduation processions for UCOL and IPU and the Christmas parade. The 67-year-old says he was honoured to be offered the role.
The outfit is a big part of a town crier's identity and Brenton's was made by Palmerston North fashion design tutor Debbie Watkins.
He chose green for his outfit as it is Manawatū's colour and signifies the ranges and farmland of the region. The tricorn hat was made specially by Hills Hats of Petone, while the ostrich feather is from a farm near Hamilton.
The hat attracts a lot of attention from younger residents, with children thinking he's a pirate, Captain Cook or, as one child asked their mother, "is that the pope?".
And a little secret revealed: the white stockings and three-quarter pants are from the women's department at Farmers.
Brenton knew Robinson for about 30 years as she was a Tupperware consultant when he and wife Christina were distributors. Robinson's family gave him the bell she received to mark her 10th anniversary in the ceremonial role. The bell is used to attract attention.
For each event, Brenton writes a cry (call) of about 250 words that includes what the event is about. It can be humorous. He finishes each cry by saying God save the Queen and God defend New Zealand.
After a lean 2020, the town crier wants to go to as many 150th anniversary events as he can. He sees his role as a city ambassador and he seeks to promote Palmy at whatever events he attends.
Brenton understands he is one of only three town criers left in New Zealand; one is Robinson's sister Paddy-Ann Pemberton in central Otago.
He's connected with about 40 town criers or bellpeople around the world through Facebook and in time he would like to take part in international competitions.
The former manager of Methodist Goodwill is available to talk to groups such as Rotary, Probus and Rebus about the role of town crier.
According to the Historic UK website, in medieval times it was the job of the crier or bellman to inform the townspeople of the latest news, proclamations, bylaws and any other important information, as at this time most people were illiterate.
In 2017, Brenton received a Civic Honour Award. The citation said, "Lyal Brenton's difficulty saying no is Palmerston North's gain." At the time he said: "I don't ever see myself not doing something for the community in my life, I will die volunteering."
In 2018, he was named a Kiwibank Manawatū Local Hero. A room in Kiwibank's Broadway Ave branch is named in his honour.
Brenton says all his community involvement keeps him alive and he does it for the pleasure it gives other people.
Lyal and his family moved to Palmerston North in 1988 to take up the city's Tupperware distribution franchise. He moved to Foxton Beach last year, allowing him and Christina to enjoy the sea, but he comes to the city several times a week and says his passion for the city remains.
He's continued his voluntary roles including as a Big Brother Big Sister mentor,
on the boards of the Just Released Accommodation Trust and Palmerston North Community Services Council, and listens to children reading at Takaro School.