On Tuesday 15 March 2022, The Speakers of Croydon held it’s first club meeting in its brand new venue – St Mary’s Catholic Church on Wellesley Road. The Speakers of Croydon has an 18 year history and half of that time was spent at its previous venue, the CVA Centre in West Croydon, so this was a highly anticipated event for the club.
St Mary’s Catholic Church, Croydon
The meeting was the night of new beginnings (themed ‘looking forward’) and there were many:
• This new pristine venue (you had to be there to believe it), not one but two meeting rooms spoilt for not only choice but style too!!
• Car park: all of 20 secure spaces! (a rarity in central Croydon).
The evening kicked off in the formal meeting room with the President Lydia McDowall, resplendent in a black number cutting a red ribbon to ‘officially’ welcome The Speakers of Croydon to its new venue. Everyone turned up and scrubbed up well for this occasion and the crowd was giddy with excitement at this new beginning. The President handed over to the Toastmaster of The Day, seasoned speaker and this year’s club International Speech contest winner, Andrew Osayemi. Andrew led the meeting with high energy and focus throughout.
President of Speakers of Croydon, Lydia McDowall, opens the new venue
First off, Debbie Williams our former club president and current Division H Director inspired us all with her speech entitled ‘Stepping Up’ to serve in Leadership. She named Stephen Davis (who was in attendance) a former member and club president as someone who first inspired her to serve. One of the guests commented that she was particularly inspired by Debbie’s speech to join the club immediately. This speech drew glowing reviews from Will Rennie, Debbie’s evaluator for this speech.
Then came Adrian Moore with a speech entitled ‘Contest time: Coalition of the Willing’ exploring the virtues of willingness to serve, teamwork and collaborative working. This was building on stepping up and painting the picture of what is expected at the next level. Adrian was all praises for his Club: The Speakers of Croydon and Area H15 for being the foundation of the Coalition of the Willing for the Area H35 Contest. Paolo Rizzo his evaluator agreed.
After forming a plan and a team to deliver i.e. finding your Anchor, one must always deliver in such a way as to ‘Blow their Arses’. Cue Shirleen Nelson who delivered a Best Speaker of the night speech entitled ‘My Anchor’ that spoke to our individual vulnerabilities either inherent or imposed on us. One just has to have that cheerleader who has always got your back. Emmanuel Karamagi, Shirleen’s evaluator found resonance in her personal story woven in her speech.
Shirleen Nelson, Best Speaker of the night and Division H Director Debbie Williams
After the network break with celebratory fizz, and having decamped into the lobby area (second meeting space) Julie Richards, Table Topics Master gave us tantalising Table Topics. There was, what is the one food which you would be happy to eat always: Helene (guest) took this one on and introduced some of us to the bed french cheese. The question on paint a picture of your future (2030) was taken on by Femi (guest) who wanted to bring all things politically good to the wonderful nation of Nigeria. Amatare (guest) reminded us why he is much missed as a member by telling us about the things he would be happy to leave behind forever. A story not to be recounted to his wife and daughters if humour isn’t their daily tippo. Rosa Watson proving to us why she is this year’s club representative at the Evaluation Contest gave a Best Evaluator, glowing evaluation of the Table Topics with Helene and Femi having given Best Table Topics Speeches.
And so it was the first evening of many with The Speakers of Croydon Toastmasters Club purposefully ‘looking forward’ to many more fabulous fun filled meetings seasoned with nuggets of wisdom. And what a night it was seeing many guests and many former members. I certainly will be at the next meeting; I cannot bare to suffer FOMO, will you?
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Emmanuel Karamagi, Immediate Past President and Area H15 Director, Lydia McDowall, President