I joined Toastmasters as I wanted to be able to deliver presentations to develop my own business. I was very shy and nervous at the first meeting but was made to feel very welcome. My determination to make progress led me to be one of the founder members and I soon started to take up officer roles. I have been helped by many people, but Kit offered to mentor me beyond the first few speeches and his experience was invaluable and he was so generous with his time, with me and many others. He encouraged and supported me as President and then the Area Director. Oddly, there was no spark between us – just two people helping each other. That support became much more on the break-up of my marriage, with Kit standing by me through a serious mental health crisis. Clearly Kit is an active listener as he got the message and proposed to me a couple of days after risking death whilst white water rafting in Canada. I should have used the wedding planning as an HPL project, but the outcome was better than a DTM, it was a new start to my life with someone who cherishes me.
As a 25-year TM veteran my greatest pleasure of membership comes from helping members and seeing them grow. Debs’ confidence clearly grew as she worked her way through the old “Competent Communicator” programme. As her mentor I then encouraged her and guided her through leadership opportunities: club officer roles, area director and her high-performance leadership project. One of my favourite memories is co-presenting a workshop on mentoring at a division TLI with Debs. Much of this was done while working and living in Qatar, and president of a club in Doha. Getting up at 5 to fly back for our Basingstoke club meetings was a bit of a drag. What I had paid forward came back with interest following the break-up of my marriage in the form of Debs support for me. The years of friendship through our TM membership formed a solid foundation on which we built a life partnership. However, there was one speech I was not allowed to help with: her bride speech.