I am more than happy to be able to talk about a success story in Division L. And who doesn’t like to hear a comeback story?
Winchmore Hill Speakers are located in Winchmore Hill, to the north of Central London, and meet at the Paulin Ground every first and third Monday of the month. Like a lot of clubs, they were hit hard by COVID and the transition from in-person to online meetings. This had taken its toll on the membership, which fell to just eight members.
It can be difficult to run a club, let alone club meetings with only eight members. Not only that, but most of the committee roles had to be filled by the then-president, Rishi Gautam. Rishi and his fellow members switched to holding hybrid club meetings. This allowed members and guests to join meetings either in person or online, which gave everyone the best chance to attend.
The club focused on how to make their meetings as welcoming, engaging, and positive as possible, to make sure everyone got something out of the meetings. They received countless bits of positive feedback from guests about the welcoming atmosphere. It is so crucial for us to provide an environment at meetings, which is a fun, learning experience, and ultimately, one in which guests feel like they would like to be part of, as a Toastmaster.
Soon new members were joining the club in droves. The club membership has now grown to 32! A huge achievement to quadruple the number of club members in about a year, which is an amazing transformation. The club is eligible for the Phoenix Award, for a chartered club that grows its membership from 12 or fewer to 20 within a Toastmasters year.
As the club membership has been growing for a year now, those new members, who joined a year ago, are now some of the more experienced members and have formed a core leadership group. These more experienced members have in turn passed on their knowledge and skills to newer members.
Committee positions have been filled by those members, meaning Rishi does not need to be doing quite so much! Succession planning is such an important aspect of Toastmasters and leadership in general. If we are unable to pass on our leadership positions and leave our fellow club members empowered and confident enough to step into those positions, then we have failed on that count, even if it can be very difficult at times.
Ralph Sfier is the new Vice President of Education and has pushed the club on further, brought to life the opportunities of participation at club meetings.
This could only be possible due to the perseverance and tenacity of Rishi Gautam and the other club members a year ago, who worked so hard to not only keep the club alive but turn around the club’s fortunes and grow it to its current, healthy level of membership. More members mean more leaders and helps to ensure the future of the club.
We can all learn from Winchmore Hill Speakers about what is possible and take inspiration from their journey.
Division L Director, 2023-2024