As I look back at what I have done over my 71 years on this planet, I believe that it is helping other people that has motivated me most. I am certain that it was my experience in Guernsey that enabled me to start a speakers’ club.
In Guernsey, where I lived in the 90s, I was the Director of an Enterprise Agency. My job was to help as many unemployed people back into work as possible. My role was to be the conduit of knowledge and connections with useful people and to form a network of like-minded people to assist me. Over the 10 years that I ran the agency, I saw more than 50 businesses opened, and when I returned to Guernsey last year three of the original companies were still in business.
When I came to England in 2000, I was looking for work that would give me the same satisfaction so I started up my own company to assist new businesses with whatever they needed to get them started or to keep them going. One of the aspects that I was good at from my work in Guernsey was speaking in public. But I knew that the skill could easily be lost if I did not keep it up, so I looked around for somewhere to practise and joined the Brighton Speakers Club.
As I lived in Seaford, I found the trundle into Brighton and trying to park, very annoying. Moreover, I wanted to offer my customers a safe environment to practise what I was teaching them so I decided to start a club nearer to home and chose Eastbourne as my club location.
I have discovered since then that going alone is not the way to form a club. But what motivates me most is when a man tells me that it can’t be done. Yes, this was said by some about my efforts to form a new club in Eastbourne.
Every other Wednesday night I sat waiting at the venue. Sometimes no one turned up; sometimes people came and then went; sometimes members from other clubs came to assist. Eventually, by 2006 I had the 20 members needed to charter the club. Eastbourne Club is still going although only online this year.
In the meantime, I had moved to Shoreham by Sea!
I decided to start a club nearer to my new home and looked to Worthing as a good place to begin. As with any new venture some prime ingredients are needed. In the case of Speakers’ Clubs, the first of these is a really good venue that is easy to reach, has plenty of parking and a bar. The Burlington Hotel met these criteria. Secondly, a new club needs 20 other people who can see the point just as much as I do.
My motivation in this case was similar, as I now had customers in West Sussex wanting to improve their speaking skills and who were willing to come to a club meeting to practise them. Some of the original members on chartering – Barry, Cecily and Bill – are still stalwart members of the club. Without them, the club would never have made it.
In April 2013 the club was chartered and from that time has never looked back. As far as I am concerned one of the wonderful aspects of forming clubs is helping people grow in confidence, skill and ability to help others grow as well.
I am content with the knowledge that from starting one club in Eastbourne in 2006 I know for sure that Lewes, Battle, Gatwick, TPR, Forest Row and Worthing all were started by Toastmasters who were from the Eastbourne Club that I started 14 years ago. That is a minimum of 120 people (6 x 20) all enjoying becoming better people through the lessons learnt at club meetings.
Congratulations Worthing Speakers’ Club for achieving so much in the 7 years that you have been in existence; it has made me very happy to watch you all grow and thrive.