Appreciation & Gratitude

Appreciation & Gratitude

While Toastmasters is giving us a development platform to excel in our communication and leadership, we receive appreciation and gratitude by showing up for others.

I like to SHOUT OUT my appreciation and gratitude to my DUTCH mother, for not only giving me a VOICE to share but also for being so brave to adopt 3 children at the ages of 5, 7, and 9, my father left behind in Turkey from a previous marriage.

…and, yes, I was that little 5-year-old.

You can say I am lucky to have 2 mothers and 3 birthdays:-)

But it’s not that simple because:

1. My DUTCH mum passed away far too long ago and has missed seeing my beautiful girls grow up into ladies with their own unique VOICE…

2. and as to my TURKISH mum however beautiful she is, the lack of not being able to communicate in the same language, nor living in the same country, makes it hard to connect…

Why am I talking about this you may wonder…

Well, this month, 24 years ago I gave birth to my oldest daughter, and I am feeling sad not to be able to share this with my mothers.

It was my daughter who sparked this off last week by saying “Mum, I really like to celebrate my birthday with you” a question I have never been able to ask my mothers.

I feel blessed… that I can jump in the car to be with my daughter in London to celebrate….

I feel blessed…that I can jump in the car to be with my Toastmasters family to celebrate our Humorous and Table Topics winners to the next level, this month.

What are you most grateful for?

P.S. …as to the 3rd birthday, that’s a story for another day. 🙂

Appreciation & Gratitude 3

Division A Soundbites

Take inspiration from Division A

Antonia Harrison DTM

President, Shilling Speakers, Area A1

2020/21 Division A Director

When not supporting her own club which she started in January, the other 20 clubs in Division A or visiting Toastmasters events around the world, Antonia focuses on her business as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Breakthrough Business Coach for Women Entrepreneurs.  She stood for Parliament in 2017 and 2019.  Learning foreign languages is her lifelong interest as well as being on the water, preferably on a motor cruiser.

Antonia’s Toastmasters journey began in 2009 in a Flemish club in Belgium, Toastmasters Hasselt, where she was a founder member and gave her Icebreaker speech in Dutch.  She later became President, a Charter Member of Toastmasters Fonske Leuven and Club Sponsor of Toastmasters Maastrict. On returning to the UK in 2012, she joined Solent Speakers in Fareham where she also became President before Area A1 Director in 2018/19.

See what the clubs in Division A have been doing during September and October

Basingstoke Speakers

Basingstoke Speakers had a joint meeting with Noida toastmasters of District 41, India on 12 September. The meeting was very successful and we hope to have many more joint meetings in the future. Why not watch our meeting recording.
Haritosh Srivastav DTM, VPE, Basingstoke Speakers.

TEDxSouthampton 2021

Russell Streeter ACB ALB, A1 Area Director and member of Solent Speakers in Fareham, will be speaking at TEDx Southampton in May 2021 deferred from 11 November 2020.
This all-day event will feature creative, thought-provoking inspiration around our theme of Human to Human Connection in all its forms and includes a focus on Innovation, Connectedness and Personal Potential.

Russell is a finance leader with nearly two decades of experience in insurance and financial services. His outlook on life has been dramatically shaped by his family’s experience of childhood cancer. Russell’s talk is a powerful and emotional story about Human to Human Connection when a family member is seriously ill. He shares the important lessons he has learnt and discusses the vital contributions that everyone can make in such circumstances to save lives.

Salisbury Speakers Discussion Panel Experts

September 18th saw Salisbury Speakers host the 3rd in a series of panel discussions this year. This one was an exciting discussion on the subject of homelessness, with Salisbury MP John Glen, Salisbury Trust for the Homeless Project Leader Louise Davis, and Liz Dore, (Salisbury Speakers Member) of South West Advocacy Network, the new organisation she has just set up in Salisbury.

A series of questions were posed including ‘What lessons can we learn from the pandemic?’ and ‘” what will the end of the eviction ban mean for homelessness?’  A lively discussion followed, concluding with questions from the audience. Salisbury Speakers member Richard Livesey hosted the meeting very professionally, asking panellists to reflect on each others’ contributions and moving smoothly from one question to another.

Previous discussions were: September 7th ‘Perceptions of Influence in the Age of Social Media’, again hosted by Richard Livesey with panellists: previous Salisbury Speakers member Wendy Searle who famously made a record-breaking skiing solo to the South Pole in 2019/20 together with Richard Belle, a local Social Media expert and Barbara Saph, DTM Salisbury Speakers member.

Finally, an in house panel of Rob Dewing, Alexandra Gillies, who works with sustainable tourism in Africa and Liz Dore discussed ‘Do You Think Plastic Should be Banned?’ on August 3rd.

Taking part in a panel discussion is very different to presenting to an audience, especially via a video conference but Salisbury Speakers are expecting to hold more of these during the year and will welcome members from other clubs.

Chaseside Speakers host the World Champion of Public Speaking

Area 42’s only corporate club, Chaseside Speakers, a JPMorgan club, started their year off with a bang with a keynote speech from last year’s World Champion of Public Speaking, Aaron Beverley, a JPM employee from the States.

Distinguished Toastmaster Haritosh Srivastav

interviews Aaron Beverly.

Watch Aaron’s winning speech.

Chaseside is using the online format to its fullest by also joining forces with another D91 JPMorgan club to run joint meetings to boost the number of members at meetings and are looking to possibly extend the meetings to even further afield and branch out to other clubs for Global meetings.

David Matoe Club President is keen to have guest speakers and workshops to add variety and interest to meetings so would love to hear from anyone who has something they can share with the club.

Bristol Central Speakers

At Bristol Central Speakers, we wanted to keep our high-energy and collaborative club culture alive even in the new virtual world. Taking advantage of the fact that any club in the world is now only a click away, BCS hosted a joint meeting with a club in Osaka, Japan. Separated by 8 hours in time, we showed up excited to meet the members of Naniwa Toastmasters.

We quickly learned to add ‘San’ after everyone’s name and joked about not being disqualified for going overtime (Osaka rules!). It was an incredibly rewarding experience that showed us how we’re all so similar even though miles apart.

The feedback from our club members has been fantastic. This idea of a joint club meeting is all thanks to BCS’ Secretary, Polly Thompson, and has inspired us to keep exploring the world via Zoom. Who knows where we’ll (virtually) land next.

Solent Speakers

Solent Speakers (A1) ran an Evaluations event on 29 September starting with an “Enlightening Evaluations” workshop from 2016 D91 Evaluations Champion, Ga Lok Chung, teaching us valuable techniques including the COD and GLOVE methods. We then heard three very different speeches and offered a round-robin evaluation of each
  1. Lucinda Harman DTM “Finding Freeman in Confinement”, a TEDx rehearsal
  2. Beatrice Freeman, L5 Preparing to Speak Professionally “Including the Neurodiverse: My Experience”
  3. Dagmara Elminowska, L1 Evaluation & Feedback 2 “The Problems of Being Tall”

42 people attended, included members from abroad. The full meeting is shown at:

Shilling Speakers “In Front of the Camera”

Shilling Speakers in Area A1 hosted a workshop with Luis Dorbecker DTM from Mexico called “In Front of the Camera” to help people with better lighting, framing, backgrounds, camera height etc.  It was particularly aimed at anyone taking part in Toastmasters contests.  You can see the recording at

Division A Conference & Contests

Saturday 7th November 09:45-14:15

The Division Finals of the Humorous Speech Contest and Table Topics will include eight participants in each as Division A has four Areas.  Alongside, there will be keynote speeches from Gavin Meikle DTM on the hidden depths of Pathways and TEDx Speaker and multi-award-winning Deepak ‘DJ’ Justin from D82 with “Unlock the Sherlock: The Art of Cracking a Winner of a Speech”.

Register here:

Celebrate our success with us

15 members of Division A achieved Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) status in 2019-20.

Keith Oliver, Shilling Speakers and Spinnaker Speakers, Area A1, is the only member so far to achieve DTM in Division A this Toastmaster year.

Many congratulations to all 16 new DTMs!!!

We have 42 other awards to celebrate

Pathways Level 1

Claire Jewell, Tjark Schoenfeld, Deborah Franzoni, Xavier Graham, Neil Richings, Philip Gladwell, Michelle Pinrod, Roberto Fuerte, Paul Molyneux, Clappas Petrescu, Alfonso Eduardo, Andrea Righi, Philippa Gray, Caroline Brewer, Pallavia Pawar, Philippa Doyle, Clive Stocker, Jonny Pardoe, Eric Skates, Flora Ellis, Arooj Raza, Lancina Bamba, Olorunbunmi Durowoju, Gemma Nevers, Nina Fahler, Rory McGill.

Pathways Level 2

Mike Burrows, Niroopika Sivapatham, Roman Abylkhatov, Cate Wilson, Eric Skates, Rick Simmonds, Lancina Bamba, Gemma Nevers.

Pathways Level 3

Ariba Surani, Rick Simmonds

Pathways Level 4

Rob Hoblin

Pathways Level 5

Rob Hoblin, Richard Livesey

Division A Toastmasters Leadership Institute

Calling all Incoming Club Officers

Whether you are an experienced committee member or a newly minted 1st-time club officer, you’ll find Division A’s Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) a rewarding experience. The organising team have prepared a fabulous programme of practical workshops to give you the core skills and knowledge you need to build your club’s best year yet.  (And, by participating, you will help your club achieve it’s Distinguished Club Goals.)

When – Saturday 4th July 2020    Between 9:30 am and 4 pm

Where – From your own home via Zoom

How much? – It’s FREE!

Click here to register now

NB: Advance Registration is Required to Access the Meeting Link

Enjoyable, interactive workshops based on best practice within our district

No dry, dusty presentations here – you’ll be able to roll up your sleeves and work alongside fellow club officers to share, explore, and absorb a wealth of practical knowledge and skills relevant to your new leadership role.

Topics covered will include

  • Moments of Truth – What makes a great club great
  • Club Officer Roles & Responsibilities – Clearing the fog
  • Concurrent Role Specific Skills sessions including
    • Pathways for VPE’s and Basecamp Managers
    • Member Conversion techniques for VPM’s
    • Marketing and PR for VP PR’s
    • Finance Tips and Tools for Treasurers
  • Measuring Success with the Distinguished Club Programme (DCP)
  • Working Together as an effective Club Leadership Team
  • Planning your best year yet with the Club Success Plan

Click here to book your place today

We have developed the programme for all incoming club officers
including any “assistant” officers. It is open to officers of all clubs in District 91.

Attendance for the whole event will count towards DCP Club officer training goals.

My First Division Contest

By Kash Hussain, St Pauls Speakers, Division C

On Saturday 13th April, I found myself waking up earlier than usual, catching the same train I get into the city every day for work. However, instead of going into the office, I walked into the familiar grounds of St Botolph’s for the Toastmasters Division C International Speech and Evaluation Contest!  I was attending as an observer (although I took on a couple of functionary roles to support my home club). I took along a special guest – someone who had never before been to a Toastmasters event – my wife. This was primarily to prove to my wife that Toastmasters was indeed a real club, and not something I’d made up to get away from household chores for a few hours every couple of weeks!  I also felt that my wife would benefit and be inspired by the workshops and quality of speakers on the programme.

My wife made two main observations based on first impressions. Firstly, how formal and organised the event was. Despite being a voluntary organisation it was clear this was a group of people brought together by a strong purpose. From the introduction at the beginning, to a clear agenda, to clear instructions and explanations of the day’s programme, to a timekeeper ensuring everything ran smoothly and to time, there was a shared enthusiasm and drive throughout the day to run it as efficiently as possible. Secondly, my wife was impressed with how warm, friendly and encouraging everyone at the club was. From the meet and greet on entrance, to meeting numerous friendly people throughout the day and to seeing how every Toastmasters member encouraged others during the speeches, my wife felt there was a raw warmth and sense of community. 

My own reason for attendance at the Contest was to learn and be inspired. Having been a member of Toastmasters for a few years now, partaking in a couple of club level speaking contests myself, I was interested to see how speech contests developed – from club to area to division – and to observe contest winning speeches. And it was indeed inspirational! The workshops gave great tips on how to structure and tell stories, and the speeches were fantastic illustrations of how to bring it all together and deliver a great speech in practice. There was one key feature that made each of these speeches stand out for me, and this was – the message. Not just the inclusion of a strong message in the speech. But the intertwining of every element of the speech, from structure, content, delivery, examples and conclusion, in a cohesive package, to reinforce that key message and make as big an impact as possible. This is certainly something I shall be thinking about when drafting my next speech.

Overall, a wonderful day. So much to learn and draw inspiration from, whether you’ve never attended a Toastmasters event before or have been a member for years. I shall definitely be going again and would encourage anyone – who is either interested to gain a better understanding of how their club operates in the wider area and division, or to simply draw inspiration from great speakers, to go along.


By Mark Hanly, Finalist D91 Table Topics Contest 3rd May 2019, District Table Topics Winner 2017, member of Early Bid Speakers Club

It was a thrill and an honour to participate in the D91 District Final in Table Topics for the second year running.

It was the culmination of a very enjoyable series of contests and events starting at Club level at my own club Early Bird Speakers. Club contests are great. In our club, there is great anticipation and buzz around contests. Participation is high, the audience supportively noisy and and everyone brings their A-game. Thus, while you may think you know a lot about your mates in the club, you learn a surprising amount more at the Contest. It should be illegal to unleash that amount of energy in a room before most people start work! Seriously though, whatever your level of experience in Toastmasters, I would encourage everyone to take part in their club contests. It’s a real fast track to improving your skills and fantastic fun.

Mark Hanly

Moving onto the area and division contests bring new challenges and fun. It’s delightful to get a chance to play with members from other clubs and to see what new perspectives and approaches they bring. Being less familiar with the participants in these contests than those in your own club keeps the adrenaline and the keenness flowing. It is competitive, good-natured, supportive, and again enormously enjoyable.

This was the first year in which, for totally reasonable and understandable reasons, the Table Topics District Final was held in May rather than being the culmination of a rapid series of Club through Division contests which were still held in autumn. I think for me this presented perhaps the greatest challenge adapting to the lull between the Division and District finals. I’m a great fan of go-go-go! But hey, challenges only make us grow and learn, the very ethos of Toastmasters.

Overall, the entire series of contests is a great experience. If you have never entered a contest, dive on in. The water’s warm, as the old saying goes. See y’all in September for the next round!