by David Creek
My Toastmaster journey is not typical. From the age of seven I developed a severe stammer, or stutter. When middle-aged I attended a series of intensive speech therapy classes covering a wide range of treatments, which were interesting at the time but unfortunately have had no lasting benefit. Two of my teachers, both American, recommended Toastmasters as being helpful so I joined Newbury Speakers Club. We are all aware that public speaking can be very stressful for some, giving rise to considerable anxiety. I eventually worked out that this was my main problem except that I would express it in stronger language. My stammer, according to me, is caused by the fear of saying certain words in certain situations. Having worked out the theory of what to do quite quickly, it has taken me a considerable time to put it into practice. Three years ago, I stopped attending Toastmasters thinking that now, being classed as elderly, I had probably reached my peak of fluency. No so, my speech continued to improve. In most everyday situations I now consider myself to be fluent, without stammering, if I take sufficient care. It is only public speaking that still causes me problems. I re-joined Newbury Speakers and have now given my third Icebreaker, this time on the Pathways track.
It is interesting to reflect on the changing composition of Newbury Speakers. When I first joined, the club was small in number and mainly made up of older members who enjoyed speaking as a hobby. Now the age span is younger and more career-oriented.
Yes, I’ve done it all, been on the committee, been President, spoken at contests, but now I favour the quiet life with just a bit more fluency and ease when speaking in front of people.
David is the longest serving member of Division A, having been a member of Newbury Speakers for 24 years