District Leadership 2015-16


One month after the end of the Toastmasters Year, outgoing and incoming district leaders got together for an end of the year party in London.Jean_Gamester_1200px We were celebrating all the hard work and great fun of 2015 16.  We were celebrating becoming a Presidents Distinguished District again, coming 4th in the world out of 100 districts and leading the world when it comes to having clubs with 20 or more members. Read More

District 91 PR Contest 2015-16

Clubs throughout UK South Win PR Awards in the District 91 PR Contest!Toastmasters Where Leaders Are Made


Congratulations to the following clubs which were awarded District 91 PR Awards for 2015-16 at the recent Division Contests.  Clbs were nominated by the Division and Area Directors.

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Excellence in the Face of Adversity! Leadership challenges

From Samir Malak, Area Director, K35 

Celebration of Excellence

Area K Contest, April 16As we were preparing for the Area Contest, a boy approached me, his face awash with consternation.  “When are you going to be finished?”  I advised we would certainly be done by 10pm.  “But we are having Karate at 8pm in that room.”

“Let me look into that.”  I responded, with a smile.

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Welcome Meg Heyworth to the role of D91 Finance Manager

Meg Heyworth, District 91 Finance Manager 2015-16

Meg-HeyworthWe warmly welcome Meg Heyworth DTM to the District 91 Leadership Team as Finance Manager with immediate effect.  Meg is a Distinquished Toastmaster (DTM) – twice! and a member of Worthing Speakers Club, Eastbourne Speakers Club and 104 London Debators.

Meg replaces Adnan Lateef who has decided to step down due to increasing work commitments.

Jean Gamester, District Director, thanks Adnan for all his support and work since the beginning of the Toastmaster year:

“It has been great working with Adnan – he is collaborative, focussed on results and helps make things happen.  One of the best finance professionals I have worked with – combines the technical and people skills beautifully.  I hope we get the opportunity to work together again.”

Please email Meg from now on with any district expenses or finance queries.

Vanessa King DTM Program Quality Director 2015-16

Vanessa KingIn late April 2009 I walked through the doors of Woking Speakers Club. Little did I know that an entirely new world of learning, opportunity and growth would open up to me. I just thought I was going to a little club in a village hall!

At the time I was a part-time teacher and I went along to meet new people. I stayed because I saw that it could be really useful in helping me to understand how I came across as a teacher and, most importantly, help me improve. Most importantly though, Toastmasters showed me that I had something to say and that people were interested in hearing it. This was an eye-opener for me.


I got onto the leadership track quite early in my Toastmasters career. I offered to help, if it was needed and the reply was swift – “you can be the secretary if you like.” I thought that sounded pretty easy so I agreed. It turned out to be ensuring that the president didn’t drink too much wine before the start of the committee meeting – otherwise we’d never reach the end of it!

2009 was to prove a tumultuous year for me. I lost my job, moved house and separated from my husband within the space of a few months. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to cope with all that without the support and fun that I had at my fortnightly Toastmasters meetings. Toastmasters showed me that I had more to offer than I was doing at that time.

I progressed through the roles of Vice President Education and President, after moving to Guildford Speakers Club. I have also served as Area Governor, Division Governor and Lt. Governor Marketing, as the titles were at that time.

At every stage I have felt unqualified for each role, yet there were always friends and mentors on hand to guide and encourage me on. Each role has had its own rewards and challenges, but overall I’m proud of the support I’ve been able to give to many of the clubs in our District.

This year as Program Quality Director, I hope to ensure all of our clubs become Distinguished. I want to share the Educational Program as much as possible, because so many members only scratch the surface of it.

There’s a very simple reason why I want to do this.

Toastmasters changes lives.

The Toastmasters International program has made an incredible difference to my life. It could be said that Toastmasters ruined my life as it was, because now, six years later, I am not at all like the woman who walked timidly through the doors of Woking Speakers in April 2009. Now I can speak confidently to large groups, contribute meaningfully to discussions with leaders in many different spheres, and share my experience with individuals to help them on their journey.

Toastmasters changed my life for the better, and now I want to ensure that the opportunity for growth and change is available to others. I won’t promise that your life won’t be turned upside down when you embrace Toastmasters, but I can assure you that there will be many friends to guide and support you as you travel.

District 91 leadership changes & seeking Area 59 Director

Annushia Goede

Annushia Goede, Division K Director

Change of D91 Area and Division Directors

Due to changes in personal circumstances new appointments have been made to the Division K leadership team. We are very pleased to announce that Annushia Goede will take over from Richard White as Division K Director, and Peter Varholak will take over from Francesca Coronin as Area K58 Director with immediate effect. We are currently seeking a new Area 59 Director (see below).

Peter Varholak

Peter Varholak, Area 58 Director

Richard, Francesca and William will continue to be active club members and will come back into leadership roles when the time is right for them.

Seeking Area 59 Director

We are seeking an Area 59 Director to replace William Hagerup. If you would like to consider undertaking this role contact Jean Gamester by 17th August letting her know why you would like to do this role and what you would plan to achieve if appointed.

Why would you want this role?

It’s an opportunity to contribute at the equivalent of board level in a not for profit organisation (we have 3,500 members across around 130 clubs in the south of the UK). It’s also a great way to experience Toastmasters at a strategic level. We are one of the top performing districts in the world. This means we have an increasing numbers of clubs, these clubs are successful in helping their members develop and gain educational awards and over 80% of clubs attain distinguished club status. The role of Area Director is crucial in supporting this level of performance.

As Area 59 Director you will be joining a strong District and Division leadership team that not only gets things done but has fun at the same time. If you are interested, the next step is to contact Jean and arrange time to discuss the role – click here to email Jean.

Useful information

The District Leadership Handbook provides context – how the district works and how the leadership roles work together.

Club Growth – Leadership Update – District 91

From Dorothea Stuart, Club Growth Director D91 2015-16

Growing our membership in the golden quarter

Have you thought of having club membership contests? Not only is it good for clubs to gain extra members at this time of year also people can complete a CL project by chairing a membership contest committee.

Smedley AwardAny club which has 5 new/dual/reinstated members in the period 1 August-30 September gains a Smedley Award, represented by a ribbon for the club banner, a 10% discount on the club’s next order from the TI shop and an announcement on the international website.

You can find a handy pdf here which summarises club membership contest possibilities.

Additional membership before 1 October will also help District 91 achieve our collective member payment goal – one of three goals for a Distinguished District.


Club Dues Keep CalmClub dues

Remember that clubs need to start the process of renewing membership of current members in August. The sooner dues are collected the better! Dues should be paid to Toastmasters international by 30 September for the period 1 October 2015-31 March 2016.

There is a lot of misinformation about the date that dues are due. Please remind everyone that the deadline to meet for payment of ALL member dues is 30 September


Club growth in 2015-16

Our strategy this year is to have an average of one new club per area. This is a challenge – yet an achievable one! The good news is that we already have people creating new clubs in each of our 5 Divisions. We’ll give you a full update shortly as a number of potential corporate clubs are currently finalising Applications to Organise to submit to Toastmasters World HQ.
We will continue to have a Marketing Working Group to support new clubs and those clubs that have a temporary drop in membership. The MWG will have representative from all the Divisions in D91 UK South.

Jill Segal – Club Extension Chair
We are delighted to announce that Jill Segal, immediate past Division B Governor and the Spring Tower Conference Director will be our Club Extension Chair (an official Toastmasters International role). As part of her role she will be receiving new club leads from WHQ and responding to them. She will also chair the London sub-committee of the Marketing Working Group. Jill will be working closely with me as well as with the Division and Area Directors to help people get the right support to turn their inquiries into pre-charter clubs as quickly as possible.

Focusing on the message – update from Jean Gamester

Video Message from Jean Gamester, District 91 Director:
In a short video, Jean shares how a speech champion’s journey helped her work out what she wants for the district this year


A few years ago, I saw Jim Key speak about the experience of getting through to the finals of the world championship of public speaking. He didn’t win and was utterly devastated. Because of that he decided he would give up, not speak any more and not compete anymore, because it was all too difficult and disappointing. And then at some point during the year, he realised that he had a message to get across and it wasn’t about the winning, it was about the message. Focusing on the message. And then, like all good stories, the result was that he went on to win the world championship of public speaking.

I think about Jim Key when I think about the fact that we made it into the top 3 districts in the world last year because of our performance in the district programme. I think that’s just amazing – we grew our membership and clubs by around 10% and 85% of our clubs were distinguished. So what does that mean for this Toastmasters year, given that we did so well last year?

I have to admit, I am a competitive person and it would be great to get high up there in the rankings of all the districts again next year. But when it comes down to the message I ask myself if I want us to work really hard to beat a load of other districts who are trying to achieve the same thing as us. Actually, I’m inspired by the idea of beating something completely different. I want to beat the fear that holds people back when they want to speak. I want to beat the lack of communication skill that prevents people from getting their message across and having an impact when they have something important to say. Those are the things that I would love us to beat.

That translates into our clubs being distinguished, all of our clubs, not just 85% of them. It means everyone working towards and achieving educational awards. I’d love to see that everyone who could benefit from being in Toastmasters knows that we exist, and that if they decide to join, that there is a club there for them, a club that has the space for them to fit in. That club might exist now, or it might exist in the future.

So when you are sitting back and enjoying what is, no doubt, going to be a fabulous August weather wise, have a think about what it is that you can do to help your club to be distinguished. Distinguished not for the points but so all of your members are achieving their goals, beating that fear and that lack of communications ability. Have a think about how you can get more people into Toastmasters, so that they can get the benefits that we all get too.

Have a lovely summer, see you in September.


Jean Gamester, DTM

District 91 Director, UK South


Mission Accomplished! D91 achieves President’s Distinguished District!

Fellow Toastmasters,

What a fantastic year we’ve had launching and establishing our new District.
Hilary Briggs

Hilary Briggs, Immediate Past District Governor, District 91

I was very aware back in July 14 that this year was as much about ensuring the foundations were put in place for ongoing success as actual achievements in the year. In practice, we’ve achieved both – and I’m delighted to report that I’ve had the final confirmation from TI on our achievement of President’s Distinguished District – and also a message from International President Mohammed Murat congratulating us on ranking 3rd in the world out of 97 districts.

This great result reflects accomplishment of the District Mission of building new clubs and supporting all clubs in achieving excellence as we’ve grown 10% both in number of clubs and member payments, as well as reaching 85.5% of clubs Distinguished. In fact, we were just 3 clubs away from achieving overall 1st in the world.

In parallel, across the District we’ve built on past successes and learnings from District 71. There’s lots going on behind the scenes to ensure clubs within our District can help their members become more effective communicators and leaders, from organising club officer training, running contests to planning specific events such as training from World Champions to enhance learning opportunities. As we improve the way we do things at club, area, division and district level, it gets easier to involve more people which also helps to spread the load. In addition, one key tool we’ve established was the new D91 member website – with thanks in particular to the drive and enthusiasm of incoming District Director Jean Gamester DTM.

None of this could have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of you, the member. As everyone takes steps along their own journey to be a more effective communicator and leader, this in turn inspires others to take another step. In fact what I feel the most important thing that I’ve learned this year is the power of enthusiasm, positive attitude and momentum. The words themselves are easy to say, however their power comes from application. They really are infectious and help to overcome all kinds of hurdles. I urge you to take the next step on your journey this year.

I look forward to serving the District as Past Division Governor (DG) and helping to identify the next wave of District Leaders to ensure we continue to build on our successes.

I feel very proud to have been first (and last!) DG of D91. It’s been a pleasure to serve you.

Best regards,

Hilary Briggs DTM
Immediate Past District Governor
Toastmasters International
District 91 UK South


Sandra Lawes is D91’s Chief Ambassador for the REP

Have you heard of the REP? If not, you will do very soon!


It stands for the Revitalized Education Program and it is the largest and most important update to the Toastmasters education program since 1942, when the first basic training manual was developed.

Making sure that the program is up to date and meets the needs of our members and our clubs is crucial to the future of Toastmasters. It’s exciting and positive but like all change, it can make us feel a little uncertain until we get used to it.

This is where Sandra Lawes comes in. Sandra has been nominated by the District Leadership Team and appointed Sandra Lawesby World HQ as District 91’s Chief Ambassador to lead a team of Ambassadors.

The role of the Ambassadors is:

  • to communicate the information about the new program to all clubs
  • to get answers to your questions and feedback your views and ideas to World HQ
  • to make sure our members understand the benefits of the new program and how it will
  • work for them
  • to help ensure all our clubs are ready for the introduction of the REP.

There is a lot to do but we’ve got plenty of time as parts of the program are still under development and the earliest pilot Districts (probably not us) are currently scheduled to start using the new program from the Autumn of 2016.

Ambassadors Needed!

Sandra is recruiting the Ambassadors now (each one will support about 5 or 6 clubs – perhaps more in London due to the close proximity of the clubs). They will not be Area or Division Directors (who already have plenty to do!). Sandra is looking for experienced Toastmasters who understand the current education program and are confident about visiting clubs and communicating new ideas and concepts, as well as feeding questions and ideas back through her to World Headquarters. If you are looking for a new leadership challenge and want to play a key role in preparing our District for this crucial change. To contact Sandra click here

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