Autumn Contests & 2023 D91 Conference News

District Conference 2023

Hello, it’s Diane Richardson here, your Program Quality Director,

I am delighted to say that the District 91 Conference has been booked for the weekend of 6th and 7th May in Central London. I cannot divulge where it is going to be yet, but I think you’ll be excited when you find out. As always it is going to be a smorgasbord of great talks, seminars, and of course the District Contest finals. If you attended last year, you’ll know that this is an event not to be missed!

Whether or not you have attended this conference before, you should know that a tremendous amount of work goes into organising it.

We are still looking for volunteers to help with the conference team. We are looking for a Finance Manager, a PR Manager, and a Sponsorship Manager urgently. Other vital roles such as a Registration manager and IT manager will be needed soon after.

Just a taste of the benefits members of the last conference team gained can be found in these two examples from 2022-2023 Area Director Bonnie Wong and Division Director Rose Nakibirango.

If you are inspired to join the conference team, please contact either Angelie Bharwaney on or myself on

Bonnie Wong, D29 Area Director

Rose Nakibirango, Division K Director

Club Officer Training

After a few late entries I am pleased to say that 125 clubs in the District now have 4 or more club officers trained.

However, I would ask every Club President to check that all the correct number of officers trained are shown on the club Dashboard, before the end of October as records cannot be updated after the 31st October and despite the best efforts of everyone occasionally someone is missed.

Pathways Workshop Tips

On Sunday 16th October Massimo Guadagnino, this year’s Pathways Champion and his team will be running a webinar on how to get the most from your Pathway’s journey. The Pathways Champion team have lots of creative ideas and suggestions on how members can gain the most from their Pathways experience. They will also be explaining how you can start your Pathways’ journey within a day or two of joining a club. If you are a new member or a member who has yet to start a Path, then this is a great first step to start your pathways journey. Experienced members will also learn lots of useful tips on how to complete some of their level 4 & 5 projects. To register for the webinar please click on the link below

Diane Richardson,

Program Quality Director, 2022-2023

The Great 2022 District 91 Gavel Race

8 Gavel with letters

The race is on! From December 8th, 2021, eight gavels will be racing around 171+ clubs in all eight Divisions throughout District 91, by any means necessary.

  • Which Division will be the first to get their gavel around all of their clubs?
  • Which Division will use the most creative means of transport between their clubs?

No idea what we are talking about?

Think of the tradition of the Olympic torch, travelling through the major cities of the countries taking part in the games. Spreading the word and building excitement around the event.

Now, consider our wonderful District 91. Made up of eight Divisions spanning the south of the UK, from Deal to Cardiff and from Southampton to Ludlow.

What is it?

Between December and March, eight gavels will attempt to travel between all of the clubs in each of the Divisions. When a gavel arrives at your club, it will have its photo (or a video) taken, with members proclaiming

We are District 91!

before it is swiftly forwarded on to the next club. The goal is for the eight gavels to have visited all of the clubs and circled back to each Division Director before March 31st 2022.

There will be a prize for:

  • The most creative mode of transport between clubs (we mean really creative, think Mission Impossible, James Bond or Fast and Furious for example), judged by the District leadership team and awarded at the District Conference on 6-8th May 2022.


  • The first Division to have successfully moved the gavel around all of its’ clubs with documented evidence and photos!

Let your imagination flow. Upload your photos and videos to Conference Director Debbie Williams as soon as you have them.

We will be charting the progress of the Great 2022 District 91 Gavel Race.

Good luck!

What an event!

On the first weekend of May, we held our annual conference and what an event! We brought to you the most successful District conference ever to be organised in District 91, with over 800 participants over the weekend. I hope you had a fantastic time and learnt a lot over the 2 days. Missed out on the action, you may still access all sessions.

On 2nd May, you once again put the District trust in my hands as District Director elect. This is a humbling moment and an exciting time to take the helm of District 91. At the time of writing this note, we have already started planning for the 2020/21 programme year and look forward to sharing some details with you soon.

In the meantime, I am looking for Digital professionals to join our Digital team (data scientists, web designers, cloud solution specialists), interested? Let me know …

Last week, I attended one of my Clubs, The Toasted Sandwich, where President Fatma Salahioglu delivered the Pathways Project Reaching Consensus.

The topic for the 20 min project was “To go virtual or to remain physical” with a purpose to better understand and lay the foundation for what post-COVID-19 meetings should look like for the Club. It was fascinating to witness the discussions and how a complete agreement was reached to retain an element of online meetings.

Even more interesting were the reasons brought forward: greater flexibility and greater retention were two I picked up with great interest.

I will encourage all Clubs to engage in such an exercise and start looking at what the post-COVID-19 experience should look like for our members.

Together, we are shaping our District, and refreshing how and what we do within the Toastmasters framework, this is an exciting time!

See you all very soon!


My Journey to the Final by Chris Murphy

I remember 2 years ago in 2018 sitting in a hotel in Bracknell watching the District 91 UK National (South) Speech Evaluation contest final. All the evaluations had been a high standard. Then Chinkata Okpara came on last and knocked the competition out of the water. My jaw was on the floor. As he was awarded the winner’s trophy I thought, if I could ever give an evaluation like that…

Fast forward 2 years. As they announced the results of the 2020 District 91 National (South) Speech evaluation contest final – I was the winner. I was ecstatic. I danced, I hugged my wife. Then after a single question from my wife, I shed a tear because I realised one important thing which I had never experienced before……

Before I tell you what that is let me fill you in on the gap between those two events and how one led to the other…

When I joined Toastmasters in June 2017, I just wanted to give speech after speech. However, one thing that struck me was your improvement is only as good as the feedback you receive. Feedback and specifically speech evaluations are a key but in my opinion an underrated part of the Toastmasters journey. The skill of delivering feedback in a way that helps the person develop both in terms of what they do well and what they can improve on is invaluable, no, it is vital.

I realised that giving effective evaluations was a skill, a skill you can hone. So, I worked on this. I evaluated every speech at our club. I read about evaluations. I went on workshops with notable figures in this world such as Freddie Daniells. Gradually I improved, I saw what I hadn’t seen before, the depth of my evaluations improved and as that grew so my passion and enthusiasm did too. It wasn’t an overnight transformation but steadily speech by speech my language changed, my evaluations changed and people’s reactions to my evaluations, yes they changed too, People wanted my input and so my foundations grew even stronger.

This is easy to summarise in a sentence. It was hours and hours of work. So then fast forward to the Speech Evaluation contest 2020. I won the club level, then the Area and the Division. The only hurdle remaining to achieve what I had dreamed of was a 2-3 min speech evaluation at the District finals. Most Toastmasters members do 3-5 speech evaluations a year. In the week before the contest I did 30, on the morning of the contest, I did a further 12, a number of these with the President of our club. Each time was easier and easier, I saw more and more to comment on.

The contest, that was a blur, I was so in the zone. A conversation with someone else that week had given me the sage advice of being in FLOW… Forget Losing or Winning. Just do the very best speech evaluation you can. So I did, and I won.

On reflection, why do I think I won? It wasn’t only because of the practice, it was also because a speech evaluation is a speech, you need to live the material, as the speaker does. You need to connect with the speaker and have them in mind 100% of the time. Most of all, you have to want to genuinely want to help the speaker and just do your absolute best for them.

As I celebrated the win, my wife asked me what a felt. That is when I sat down, thought and cried that tear. I said I felt relieved, happy and peaceful. Relieved it was over, happy that I’d won and peaceful because for the first time in my life, the very first time I realised I was good at something. I was really good at something and others thought so too and then it washed over me and I cried.

As I think about the future, I believe am at the start of my evaluating journey, there is so much still to learn, I can be a lot better at this. If the words I have typed here only do one thing, I hope they will inspire you to get even better at speech evaluations. With them, you have the chance to help others improve but more so, much more so than that, you will improve your ability to both speak and write speeches.

It’s nearly time

Good day!

At the time of writing this, we are a week away from our annual District Conference. As I am sure you have spotted on the Team’s PR activities, we have a huge line up of speakers as well as our 4 District Finals. I look forward to seeing you there, virtually. There is still time to book your ticket.

The conference is also a time for recognising all the achievements of our members and Clubs, don’t miss out on the Hall of Fame, we have a ton to share!

Over the past month, you have embraced online Club meetings, online contests, invited guests from all corners of the Globe to attend your meeting. Despite challenging times, many Clubs are continuing to retain, attract and convert new guests into members, this is testament to the strong culture we have among all our Clubs. And for all these efforts, I thank you. There are lots of new opportunities to learn and grow in this new environment. When did you last deliver a Pathways project? Give it a go, online is your window to the World.

The World is watching, I have received so much positive feedback from members and District leaders from around the World that have attended many of our online meetings. The underlying trend is simply amazing, we are a strong District, we have strong Clubs and because of all these efforts, the World is now looking at us as a leader in online meetings. Keep it up!

See you all at Conference!

Be safe