What an amazing weekend we had in Ashford at the beginning of May! Our first three-day conference as District 91 got off to a great start on Friday with the formal District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting, wonderful workshops, the District Table Topics Contest and the Candidates’ showcase.
A new event this year was the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) reception. This was an opportunity for members who have achieved their DTM award this year to be recognised in the company of our existing DTMs. It was a fitting celebration of their notable achievement and something that we hope will establish itself as a regular feature.
The evening was rounded off with a delightful dinner and excellent entertainment from the Ashford Rock Choir and the improv group A Pair of Four with Chris Murphy of Tunbridge Wells Speakers Club. They played a huge part in creating a real buzz among delegates that continued into Saturday and the formal opening of the Conference.
The highlights just kept on coming throughout the weekend. Every time I thought the conference was going really well, it just got even better! Magnificent keynote speakers, a plethora of professional workshops, and the District finals for the Humorous Speech, Evaluation, and of course the International Speech contest. Congratulations to all the contestants.
One of the greatest pleasures of my year as District Director was to recognise some of the outstanding achievements of our members at the Hall of Fame. It is always extremely difficult to choose which of our dedicated and hard-working members deserves these awards when there are so many worthy candidates.
The awards this year went to:
- Area Director of the Year – Sam Warner Area J11
- Division Director of the Year – Janet Alkema Division A
- Toastmaster of the Year – Steve Birch of Malvern Speakers and Worcester Speakers
- District Director’s Award – Mary Robson of North Oxford Speakers, Oxford Orators Club and Oxford Speakers Club
Saturday also saw the District Council meeting, where your leaders for the new Toastmasters year were elected. Your incoming trio are District Director Florian Bay, Program Quality Director Arnaud Sartre and Club Growth Director Helena Boden-Brewer. They will be working with your new Division Directors Mike Burrows, Rupa Datta, Ken Essien, Sandra Mighty, Nikita Parks, Liang T Li and Beauty Zindi. I know you will give them the same great support you have given me and this year’s team.
With just six weeks of the Toastmasters year left, we are in a busy transition period. While still aiming to achieve our personal, Club and District goals, the planning for the new year is well underway. I met with the incoming trio recently as part of our handover, and the new District Leadership Team (DLT) is meting over the first weekend in June to start work on our District Success Plan for 2019-2020. The District Officer Training (DOT) for the new Division and Area Directors takes place the following weekend. You will shortly be receiving details of your local Club Officer Training (COT) and I would encourage you all to attend – it is of value to all members, not just Club Officers.
It has been a year of many successes, and I will reflect further on those in my final update as District Director next month, and as we focus on handing over to our successors, we will continue to change lives – one speech at a time.