I hope your 2016-17 year of membership in District 91 was an exciting, enjoyable year of learning and development for you. I hope you have shared your learning with others and invited friends and colleagues to your club. I hope you have had many opportunities to stretch yourself, to discover something about yourself that you didn’t know you had within you. I hope your club has given you a safe place to take risks and try new things and I hope you have given back to your club in equal measure.
I was very proud to receive this letter of congratulations (on the left) from International President Mike Storkey and Toastmasters CEO Dan Rex, on behalf of all our wonderful leaders who have worked so hard for the benefit of our members.
A Plethora of Learning Opportunities
Over the course of this year, your district leaders have worked incredibly hard for the benefit of our members. Here are just some of the events they have organised over the course of the year:
- Training for Area and Division Directors to equip them to serve you more effectively
- Toastmasters Leadership Institutes, where club officers had the chance to meet and learn from other club leaders
- Two conferences for the educational benefit of our members and to undertake the important business of district operations and delivery of the district mission.
- Workshops on judging, organising speech contests, High Performance Leadership projects and starting new clubs.
- A breakfast meeting in London to promote the benefits of Toastmasters to corporate organisations.
- Welcomed visits from World Champions of Public Speaking Mohammed Qahtani (2015), Mark Brown (1995) and District Champion 91 and World Championship of Public Speaking Finalist 2016 Thien Trang Nguyen Phan.
- Hosted International President Mike Storkey and his wife Lesley at our May conference in Southampton.
- Speaker to Trainer courses and Speechcraft courses.
Other Districts Want What We’ve Got!
And our achievements have been significant
- Top 10 in the world for percentage of clubs with more than 20 members.
- 6th in the world for percentage of distinguished clubs.
- Awards for Excellence in Club Growth, Excellence in Program Quality and Excellence in Leadership.
- One of 30 out of 102 districts to achieve Distinguished District or better.
- Chartered 13 new clubs to the district and just over 75% of our clubs achieved Distinguished or better.
We continue to be ranked among the best-performing districts in the world and I have the privilege, together with Past District Directors Hilary Briggs (2014-15) and Jean Gamester (2015-16), to share what makes our district so successful year after year at District Leader Training in Vancouver, Canada, in August. This is the first-time past district leaders have had this opportunity so it really is very special and a reflection of just how wonderful our District is.
All of this amazing work, and much more besides, was achieved by the incredible efforts of the volunteer leaders I have been proud to work with over the course of the 2016-17 year. To our Area Directors, who organised Club Officer Training and Area Contests for their clubs and conducted many club visits over the year, I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for your support of our members. You had so much to organise and do this year, I really hope you had a chance to enjoy it as well!
To Division Directors Steve Vear and Steve Birch (A), Florian Bay (B), Dudley Flynn (C), Gordon Piggott (H), Rick Cooper (J), Wole Ososami (K) and Steve Brewer (L). Thank you for your support of our Area Directors and for supporting the vision of your District Leadership Team.
My left and right hand-men, Pedro Casillas, DTM and Andy Hammond, DTM, embodied the Core Values of Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence in all our work and they continue to do so in their new roles as District Director and Program Quality Director respectively. I am proud to have supported them in their development as leaders and I am very grateful for their support of me.
Pedro, Andy and I were looked after exceptionally well by our extended team. Finance Manager Meg Heyworth DTM and I worked very hard to manage District finances for the benefit of all. Public Relations Manager Helena Brewer tapped into her extensive media contacts to promote our organisation to the wider world and was always on hand with an encouraging word and a warm smile. Administration Manager Paul Rhys-Taylor juggled every task thrown at him with grace and joy. Immediate Past District Director Jean Gamester DTM was my wise counsellor. She was brilliant at reminding me to do certain things and steadfast at getting me to do some things I didn’t want to do! My heartfelt thanks go to all of you. It has been a pleasure to be in your team.
Fellow member, as I reflect on the past five years of service as a district leader, I am amazed and proud of the change in myself and District 91. I have seen the District as it was when part of District 71 and I have played my part in establishing the new District 91. It has been my joy to serve and I look forward to seeing our District move to a sustained period of growth and continued excellence. I have no doubt that before too long, we will reform again as our growth is maintained.
I hope that 2016-17 has been a rewarding year for you. It is my genuine hope that 2017-18 will be just as rewarding, and that at the end of it you will look back and see the amazing progress you have made. I know I am not the same person I was when I started my year as District Director. I am grateful for the hard choices I had to make, for the learning opportunities I embraced and for the many chances to make a small difference in the lives of our members.
Thank you and best wishes,
Immediate Past District Director, District 91 (UK South)