Saving Kings

Embarking on my Toastmasters journey has been nothing short of a riveting adventure, a saga filled with challenges, growth, and triumphs that have shaped my narrative in unexpected ways.

Picture this: my first encounter with Toastmasters at university, navigating the intricacies of public speaking while wrestling with my own stammer. The journey began in the Holborn Speakers Club, where even uttering my name proved to be a Herculean task. But amidst the initial struggles, the supportive camaraderie of fellow club members fuelled my determination.

As fate would have it, the path led me to the Kings Speakers Toastmasters—a haven tailored for those, like me, grappling with stammers and social anxiety. I flourished in embracing this unique community, earning competent communication and leadership accolades. The club burgeoned to almost 50 members, necessitating a quest for a new meeting space and launching a dazzling website.

Yet, life’s twists took me to Cambridge, where attempts to replicate the Kings Speakers magic fell short. Three transformative years unfolded, enriched by the McGuire Programme’s wisdom, but a return to London brought unforeseen challenges. Mainstream Toastmasters struggled to comprehend techniques crucial to individuals like me, leading to psychological setbacks.

In the face of adversity, the prospect of rejuvenating the Kings Speakers club emerged. Undeterred by tales of closure, I seized the reins and assumed the mantle of its president. The vision? To rebrand as the Stammer and Social Anxiety (SASA) Toastmasters Club—a beacon for those seeking understanding and community. London’s pervasive loneliness spurred a mission: to forge connections, transforming strangers into Shrek or Ice Age-like families.

Join me on this exhilarating quest as SASA Toastmasters Club ascends to greatness. Let us redefine the Toastmasters experience, fostering a supportive environment where triumph over speech impediments is not just a personal victory but a shared celebration. Together, we shall conquer the challenges, rewriting the narrative of stammerers and those battling social anxiety in the vibrant tapestry of London life.

Vibesan Illampooranan
Kings Speakers

The Ancient Athenians

It was an immense pleasure to kick off our 30th anniversary celebrations in January at the Hop Poles, where we meet as London Athenians. This year, our club turns 30 and it is a big occasion! On the 1st October 1994, our club officially launched, so to celebrate, we will be putting on a celebratory event every month throughout this year until October. January marked the first of these, where past presidents and members were specially invited to walk down memory lane (enjoy our spoof video) and reminisce about their time in our club. Our club even had the privilege of hearing from a founding member, Keith Gautier, who gave a special address.
A special occasion with special guests to celebrate our very special club!
Priscilla Leigh
President, London Athenians 2023-2024

News Round Up from Division B


Division B – The Brilliant Division

What a couple of months here in Division B, or Division Brilliant Bounceback as I think we should call it!
Andy Hessey
Andy Hessey

For those whom I haven’t met; I’m Andy Hessey and I’m the Division Director of Division B which covers Central South West London from Kensington and Hammersmith, to Southwark and down to Clapham and Brixton.  I’ve been in Toastmasters over six years and maybe more familiar to people in D91 as #Zoomtroll at contests and conferences.  Yes .. I am THAT troll!

So why on earth is Division B called Division Brilliant Bounceback?  Well, to put it bluntly… Division B is back, baby! I was appointed in mid-October.  On my first day, I had just two out of my five Area Directors but wow, have we turned things around in the last few weeks!

Areas and Directors

Let’s start our whistlestop tour of the Division by paying tribute to my Area Director team.  The two old hands are Chris Jolly and Flora Ruffin.  Let me tell you, as a DTM this isn’t Chris’ first rodeo and his experience across West London’s Area B6 is vital and Flora is the steady hand across Area B9.  These two areas have some really strong established clubs such as London Athenians, London Corinthians and London Business School as well as one the District’s newest clubs FTI Consulting

Area B8 will be ruled by Aneeta Phillip who is also the VPE at London Victorians.  You’ll recognise Aneeta as she’s always got a smile on her face and is going to be a wonderful addition to the team.  As well as those Victorians, Aneeta’s patch takes her South of the river to Brixton and Clapham.  Area B52’s new Area Director is Luca Marengo and he will be bringing his enthusiasm and his Italian charm to his clubs including Polish Your Polish and Kings Speakers.

While my team are awesome we are still missing one arm – we are searching for someone to work with Area B18 in the heart of Victoria and Holborn.  I always say that my year as Area Director was so much fun, you get to really stretch your leadership skills.  If that sounds like something that would appeal to you, get in touch.  You don’t have to be based in that area to become their Area Director, so what’s holding back?

I cannot wait to see what happens in the International Speech Contest in the Spring.  We have a huge pool of talent in the Division and a great history of success… and for other Divisions; don’t be too upset when we sweep the board at the District contest in May!

Division B Contests

We now enter December having crowned two excellent Division speech champions with London Business School’s Aruna Shanmugarajha strictly Samba dancing his way in the Humorous Speech Contest.  In a really tight and genuinely funny contest, Aruna was joined by London Victorian’s Adam Paldyna who was laughing his way through heartbreak and Joel Morales bringing home the bronze medal for London Cardinals by making lemonade!

In the topics contest, all I can say is that the four bravest people in London were the ones on the topics stage.  Did we softball them with an airy-fairy question?  Did we give them something full of gravitas asking them how they would solve world peace?  Did we buffalo!

What we asked them was simple – “Please explain why you decided to run naked through the bear enclosure at London Zoo covered in honey” … Now, I don’t know about you, but I think this is a fundamental question that needs answers!

Former District Director, Florian Bay from London Victorians set the tone by stepping onto the stage and whipping off his belt like a Chippendale and gave us a full-blown defence of his actions and ended up taking the title.  Jakub Sokolowski from Polish Your Polish who has only been a Toastmaster for a couple of months put up a brave battle against the bears and escaped with 2nd place while Harvey Domingos came an impressive third.

I cannot wait to see what happens in the International Speech Contest in the Spring.  We have a huge pool of talent in the Division and a great history of success… and for other Divisions; don’t be too upset when we sweep the board at the District contest in May!

Watch Out!

Division B may have been in a bit of a hiatus at the start of the Toastmaster year, but we are roaring (a bit like those bears at London Zoo!).  With just under 500 unique members – a fifth of whom have joined since July, we are a Division on the up.

Expect many many things from Division Brilliant Bounceback in the second half of the programme year and if the thought of being in the slow lane is not something that you want, come and join a Division B club.  Don’t forget you can be a dual member so you don’t have to leave your friends behind to come and ride on the B Train.

Andy Hessey,

Division Director, Division B, 2022-2023