It’s Better to Travel…

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 30 Jun 2014


This was an auspicious night at MSC, what with it not only being the final meeting of our Toastmasters year – but also an evening of ushering in the new President, and looking back over a successful twelve months! But more of that to come later…

New Sergeant at Arms Paul Aherne looked very at home in his new role already as he found a new gavel-banging technique to bring everyone to attention(!), and effortlessly kicked proceedings off with his trademark humour. Club President Jacqui Hogan informed us that this was her last evening in this role, but also reflected on how much she’d enjoyed the past year of being at the club’s helm. She also welcomed both our guests tonight before handing over to Toastmaster of the Evening Julie Farrell. Julie was full of her usual enthusiasm and bonhomie, clearly explaining tonight’s programme and the club’s protocols.

Table Topics Master Sandra Chavez came up with some excellent subjects around the theme of travel and the world (also reflected to a degree by our prepared speeches later too) to test our members’ impromptu speaking skills and, due to the shorter programme tonight, had the chance to call a fair few members up. First speaker Gavin Collins, on being asked where the one place in the world was where he’d make a trip to in his lifetime, surprisingly chose good old Maidenhead! He spoke of the multi-cultural diversity we have in our town, the huge opportunities available, and sang its praises so that we could only really agree! Next up was David MacLeod, who was asked to name his top tourist attraction in the country. He chose the London Eye – and gave us all a potted-history and insight into London’s famous big wheel. He revealed he worked for BA in 1999 – the company who originally conceived and sponsored the Eye in time for the Millennium. Next speaker Suzette King was making her debut TT speech – and did an excellent job. Asked whether she preferred to travel by boat, train or plane, she opted for air travel, and, to our surprise, revealed her past career in the RAF. She made a joke that they ‘paid her to go camping’… we’ll look forward to hearing more of her stories on this subject in future I’m sure.

Our next TT speaker was also tonight’s TimerTony Searby – stepping once again into this role at the last minute, but not at the expense of missing out on a TT! He was asked in which country he would like to spend one year in if he could, and opted for the USA, where he would pursue his passion for psychology at one of the top universities. Norman Rhodes was our fifth TT speaker, and was asked  to name the most beautiful place he’d ever visited. He revealed how well-travelled he was, and how it was so tough to choose one place – but opted for Bali, and told us all about why this place was so special to him. Next was Richard Davies – answering the question ‘what’s the first thing you do when you return for a trip abroad’. As usual, Richard found lots of whimsical humour around this subject to ponder, touching on the themes of unpacking, sunburn treatment, and how to dispose of those foreign coins that always weigh our pockets down, but our useless once we return home… Penultimate speaker Nick Bailey was asked, ‘if he were Christopher Columbus, what exactly would he put in his suitcase?’. He cleverly found some bizarre choices including a present for the Queen, a bottle of port, and last but not least, one change of underwear! Final speaker (and winner of tonight’s Best Table Topic Ribbon) was Jacqui Hogan, with the tricky question of ‘which celebrity would she take on a trip?’. She inspiringly opted for Richard Branson, knowing full-well she’d be guaranteed an upgrade on the plane to Australia and the best of luxury/VIP treatment all-round!

The first of our four prepared speeches tonight was by Mohammad Aziz, speaking of how he would make the world a better place. He added nice touches of humour as he spoke of the perilous state of the world, and how he’d love to see world peace achieved in his lifetime. This led though to the conclusion that he would have to take over the world himself, and become our supreme leader! He spoke of the advantages he’s enjoy (while making the world a better place), although he would need all our financial support!

Second speaker Rajeev Sawhney by way of coincidence, also has a speech that touched on the perilous state of the world. But his was on the much more serious matter of global warming and climate change, and the real dangers of what could happen if we don’t modify our lifestyles now and the way we harm the planet. He had some sobering statistics to back up his case, and urged all of us to act now, in a very persuasive speech.

The third speaker tonight was an Icebreaker Speech – surprising then that this was delivered by long-standing member Lorraine Hamilton! Lorraine has decided to re-visit the CC manual – and had the chance then to perform her Icebreaker 12 years on from the very first time when she was new to TMs. She came up with a very unusual autobiographical speech, full of humour, insight and pathos – keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout and leaving us with an inspired message.

Fourth speaker (and winner of tonight’s Best Speaker Ribbon) was Steve Cann, with his Advanced Manual PP presentation speech ‘Going Underground’. He gave a concise and detailed account of how London’s Underground network was constructed, and the effect it had on the face of travel in London. He made good use of historic pictures to back up his facts. including the evolution of the Tube map itself, and how the tube lines themselves created new suburbs as London grew in the last century.

General Evaluator of the Evening Eric Elliott then took to the stage, giving lots of good advice about the art of evaluation and how to deliver an effective one. Evaluators David MacLeod, Andrew Johnston, Grant Oliver and Helen Elliott all gave excellent evaluations, with David winning the evening’s Best Evaluation Speech ribbon. A special mention to Andrew too, who delivered his first-ever evaluation in fine style.

Grammarian Michael Williams gave a good summing up of the night’s umms and arrs, and also the use of the word of the day ‘deflated’ – although he was feeling anything but this himself!

Jacqui finished by formally (& literally) crowning Julie Farrell the club’s new President for the next TMs year, as she handed over and presented Julie with her Presidential medal Olympic-style! I’m sure we all wish her well in her new role. Jacqui also called up any committee members present to come forward to the stage, and kindly thanked them for all their support over the past 12 months in making her tenure such a success. I’m sure you’ll all agree that Jacqui has been an excellent President for the club over the past 12 months and done us proud!

Julie shows off her well-earned Presidential medal!
Julie shows off her well-earned Presidential medal!

The next meeting will be on Monday 14th July at 19:30. See you all there for what promises to be I’m sure another wonderful night of speeches at MSC as we start the new Toastmasters year!


Published by Steve Cann

I love music! I've also recorded & performed my own songs (& once played in a band) & sometimes attend open mic nights. I enjoy comedy club nights & rock gigs, & countryside walks/country pubs... & life's simple pleasures, such as relaxing with a great book. I love exploring London, & particularly pub walks - there's so many wonderful pubs in the metropolis that I didn't know existed before I started doing these... I never get tired of London. I enjoy meditation, keeping fit, yoga & staying in good shape - healthy body, healthy mind & all that. I'm always open to new experiences, & strive to live life mindfully - enjoying the present moment. I've more recently got into public speaking, becoming a Toastmaster - it's great fun, & an invaluable way of learning new skills & extra confidence.

One thought on “It’s Better to Travel…

  1. It was a great evening – we have such a high standard of speakers at our club! Jacqui has done a wonderful job as club president this year – a hard act to follow indeed! 🙂

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