By Catherine Cannon DTM, VP Membership 2018-19
Once upon a time, Arun Speakers, a community club in Chichester, had a member called Andy Hammond. Andy worked at West Sussex County Council (also in Chichester), and try as hard as he might, not a single member of staff ever visited Arun Speakers. To coin Andy, ‘If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed’, and he set about building a club for County Council staff. With support from local Toastmaster clubs and importantly buy-in from senior officers (having decided he’d ‘better do it properly, rather than in secret’), County Communicators held its first official meeting in April 2009. Within weeks, regular weekly meetings were in place (with the agenda tightly managed to maximise time available) and new members were taking on roles. In October 2009 the club chartered, which is why we always have two birthday celebrations a year. Andy left the County Council 5 years ago, although retains membership, and is delighted that the club goes from strength to strength.
As the only (we believe) Local Authority club in the country, we welcome members from West Sussex County Council and partners, for example Capita and neighbouring District Councils. We currently have 26 members, including an elected Councillor and a Director.
I wonder if we could be described as the most open ‘closed’ club! There’s sometimes a feeling that ‘closed’ clubs (those with restricted membership, often in-house companies) don’t get involved beyond their club. Having been home to three Area Directors (and two Assistant Area Director posts), winning District 91 Club of the Year 2015/16, and having been Select or President’s Distinguished for the past seven years, County Communicators is definitely connected.
Our birthday was marked with a celebratory themed meeting, featuring a speech from the Club’s Founder and District Director Andy, the launch of the 10thbirthday challenge, award presentations, and naturally birthday cake and (non-alcoholic) bubbly.
Hannah Rawlings-Smith, Club President, 2018-19 said, ‘It was a fun and happy occasion, and we were delighted to be joined by three founder Members, visiting Toastmasters as well as guests considering joining. I was thrilled to present Daisy Alderson with her Advanced Communicator Bronze award, and Catrin Jones received her Triple Crown (our second in the club’s history)’.
Jo Bentley, H32 Area Director, 2018-19 said, ’I’ve been a member since 2012 and have seen many staff develop their skills in mentoring, giving feedback and chairing meetings effectively, and gain such confidence. Whether you’re using these skills in the workplace, in your community or in your personal life, our club offers our members such good value’.
Meeting in the beautiful surroundings of a Grade One listed building, we warmly welcome visitors from other Toastmasters Clubs. Please do get in touch if you’d like to visit – we meet every Wednesday lunchtime, 12:30 – 1:30pm in Edes House, West Street, Chichester. Email us