Serving as an Area Governor, as it was called then, seemed such a daunting task. There was so much to organise in what seemed like a very short period of time – club officer training, contests, club visits and venues to organise for all the events.
Dates to get into the diaries of club contests and division contests, new club officers to get to know, and a new Division Governor too. I think if I’d thought about it all I would have been quite overwhelmed, but I’m the kind of person who just puts her head down and gets on with the next job. Pretty soon, you look up and see it’s all done and there’s another big project to get on with!
I enjoyed my year as Area Governor, but if I had another chance I’d remember a very important fact.
I’m not alone.
None of us are. We have the support of others around us, if we just ask for it. I wasn’t very good at asking for help when I was Area Governor and now that I’m much better at it, the rewards of success are even sweeter, because you have someone to share them with.
Already this month our leaders have gathered in their teams and have reason to celebrate success.
Our incoming leaders attended a busy and packed day of training organised by Program Quality Director Pedro Casillas. Each member of the District Leadership Team contributed to the success of the day and all our Division and Area Directors came away with a greater sense of who their team is and who they can rely on.
The District Leadership Team met at the beginning of July to discuss how we could deploy our resources to best serve our members, to discuss plans for supporting our clubs to achieve excellence in the Distinguished Club Program and to prepare the Trio for International Convention in mid-August. I will provide a report about that in the next newsletter.
We held a mop-up session of District Officer Training for those who couldn’t make the first offering and despite problems with Southern Rail (those of you who live in Sussex and Surrey will know what I’m talking about!) we had another great day, with training in the morning and a meeting with Division Directors in the afternoon. One of the really exciting ideas that came out of the Division Directors meeting was to ‘rebrand’ Club Officer Training and refer to it as Area Conferences. We hope that this will have the effect of encouraging all club members to attend, not just those in officer roles. It is our intention that our members with gain a better understanding of the governance of our clubs, that we raise awareness of the breadth and depth of the education program, and our members know where to get help planning and running quality events such as contests.
In the middle of July, together with District PR Manager Helena Brewer and District Chief Judge Andy O’Sullivan, I attended a conference run by the online presentation software company Prezi, called Present, appropriately enough. We were able to introduce Toastmasters to a wider audience of business leaders, educators and scientists, and 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking Mohammed Qahtani literally broke some eggs to make a point about the ingredients of an effective speech.
Toastmaster Alex de Jong deserves special mention and congratulations this month. He brought together an effective team that worked incredibly hard to deliver the Road to Washington event held in London, bringing together four district champions from D71, 91, 59 and 95, past district evaluation champions and lots of enthusiastic Toastmasters, ready to support all our champions to hone their speeches for Washington, D.C. Well done, Alex, on such a superbly organised and delivered event.
Even as leaders across the district were forming their teams, the District Leadership Team had to make a change in its team. Toastmaster George Chiesa, DTM, who was elected Club Growth Director at the Spring Conference in May 2016, has been replaced by Toastmaster Andy Hammond, DTM. Andy has been a member since 2001 and has held nearly every club officer role, several more than once. He has also been an Area and Division Governor and Conference Chair.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Toastmaster Chiesa for his hard work on the District Leadership Team and service to our members.
Andy has a special challenge ahead of him, as he’s come into the role of Club Growth Director a month into the Toastmasters year. He will be seeking to build his wider team and his relationships with Division and Area Directors and those members who are sponsoring pre-charter clubs. I trust that you will be ready to give Andy all the help and support he needs to play his part in District 91 once again being a Presidents Distinguished District in 2016-17.
Our Area Directors have been hard at work developing and leading training in Area Conferences (aka COTs) and exciting things are happening in Division B, as Florian Bay and his team work to deliver District 91’s first ever Toastmasters Leadership Institute.
Finally, the incoming and outgoing teams got together for a celebration in London at the end of July. This district ended the previous year in an incredibly strong position, with 145 clubs for whole excellence is a habit and many more clubs getting ready to join the D91 family. PR Manager Helena Brewer has been posting our activities on the Toastmasters UK and Ireland Facebook page and @toastmastersUKI on Twitter, so do follow us there for all the latest goings-on in the district.
Our members thrive when our leaders remember that they are not alone, that all achievement is so much sweeter when it is shared with a team. In fact, the great things that our leaders have already done in one month could not have been done by one person alone. Whether you’re a club officer or a new member I hope you will remember that you have the support of your fellow members to see you through whatever challenges you face. All you need to do is ask.
Vanessa King, District 91 Director