by Stuart Field, Division H DirectorD
Since Division H was created 16 years ago, its boundaries have changed many times. New clubs have chartered, new Areas have been created, and Toastmasters International now serves over 700 members across Kent, Sussex, and parts of Surrey and the South London Boroughs.
At one time – way before Division H existed – Epsom Speakers was the only club in our current geographic area. Chartered in 1966, it would be over 20 years before it would be joined by Arun Speakers (1989), Canterbury Communicators (1991), Mole Valley Speakers (1991), and Bromley Speakers (1992). The 2000’s saw a strong period of growth, with 11 clubs chartering that are still with us today. And since 2013, a further 10 clubs have brought the total up to 26.
Three clubs joined Division H this year: In July, we welcomed Meridian Speakers and Lewisham Speakers from Division K, when Division boundaries were realigned slightly; and in August, Beckenham Communicators became our latest club to charter.
Five prospective clubs are currently building their membership up to the 20 that will enable chartering. These are: Sutton Speakeasy, Legacy Speakers Brixton, Liberty Speakers (Norbury), The Reigate Rhetoric and Spirited Speakers (Forest Row). Each club is supported by enthusiastic and dedicated members that want to enable more people to benefit from Toastmasters.
While the majority of clubs in Division H are community-based, four corporate clubs are located at employers that recognise the value of a Toastmasters club in the workplace. These are: County Communicators (West Sussex County Council), Connected Speakers Bromley (Bank of America), TPR Speakers (The Pensions Regulator) and Clinical Communicators (Fisher Clinical Services).
Our clubs and members are also engaged in a wide range of community activities. These include Speechcraft and the Youth Leadership Program, as well as supporting local groups. In addition to providing leadership opportunities for members, these provide non-members the opportunity to start developing their own communication skills, and raise awareness of Toastmasters International outside our organisation.
With a total of 31 chartered and prospective clubs – and over 700 members – Division H has come a long way since its creation in 2003. More people than ever are now able to benefit from Toastmasters in the South East, and we look forward to many more years of growth and success.