Toastmasters District 91 - Area 22       
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 District 91

    Division J

      Area 22

        Abingdon Speakers



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District 91 


Lessons learned from Area realignment

I'm the second area director (2018-19) since area 22 was reconstructed. Thamesdown Speakers retained the Area 22 designation as the oldest club in the area, but all other clubs became area 11 (Cheltenham, Gloucester, Malvern, Ludlow and Worcester)  Abingdon speakers and nearby new club Infineum Milton Hill speakers were plucked from Area 7, breaking the long-standing and geographically close relationship between Abingdon and the Oxford clubs. Thamesdown and Abingdon, an hour's drive apart, became the only community clubs in the reconstructed area 22, together with Infineum and Immunocore that chartered during the first year of the new area.

The problem was that Thamesdown and Abingdon both lost their grounding, they became demotivated, apathetic and lethargic. This is a collective depressive state, perfectly understandable and normal in the circumstances. Then throw in the further disruptive change of education programme and it's straightforwardly clear that members should lose sight of their goals and leave. The clubs have struggled with committee succession, with committee members taking on multiple roles and suffering burnout, causing them to leave in turn.  This is all normal and understandable reaction to change. Its the age old dialectical struggle between the need for stability and the simultaneous need for change. In this case it was too mcuh change, too quickly. If I had been responsible for the reallignment, I'd have ensured that individual clubs like Thamesdown and Abingdon were not isolated. A more sensitive restructure could have had Infineum and Immunocore (the disruptors) joining Newbury and Basingstoke in a new area, breaking out of area A46. 

However, the solution is to build community anew and form new bonds. There are opportunities for new community clubs in Swindon (Great Western could still happen), Didcot and Wantage. There are opportunities for new corporate clubs at Vodafone, Nationwide Building Society and emergent companies in the Didcot/Harwell/Culham development area. My plea is that future realignment is done sensitively, that severance of old ties is minimised. 

I'm starting at Didcot, hopefully with Vodafone to follow. I can't ask Abingdon to help as they have their own challenges to resolve, but I am grateful for support from Newbury and Oxford. I hope that the enthusiam of the new club in Didcot can spill over to Abingdon and Thamsedown and imbue a spirit of renewal across the whole area.

Nikita Parks ACS, ALB

Area 22 Director 2018-19

Division J Director 2019-20

Home club Ascot Speakers, President 2018-19


 Welcome to Area 22
Following the recent realignment we are now D91, Area 22 which encompasses West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.  We have 4 chartered clubs:
  • Gloucester Speakers 
  • Thamesdown Speakers - Blunsdon, near Swindon
  • Cheltenham Speakers
  • Malvern Speakers
  • Great Western (P)
  • Ludlow (P)

In addition, we have pre-charter clubs  - Ludlow and Great Western (Swindon).

Despite their separation, the area’s clubs share a strong sense of common identity and enjoy a healthy level of interaction, with all the benefits of shared best practice which that engenders.  From being very much on the ragged edge of the Toastmasters Known World 10 years ago, Area 22 is now an established and thriving arm of the empire, ready to expand the borders and fill in the gaps with linguistic excellence.

If you would like to increase your speaking ability, improve your confidence or simply to see what we’re all about, then I urge to you to visit one of our clubs.  You are assured of a warm welcome, plenty of fun and the chance to meet some friendly, helpful and interesting people.  We never forget that the first step is the hardest, and all of our clubs will go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome and to dispel their nervousness.  Every club is shot through with talent and experience and Area 22 can proudly boast 3 national champions in the last 6 years.

My job as Area Governor is to help and advise the clubs in any way and to act as the link between them and the wider Toastmasters organisation.  Specific jobs include organising contests and conducting regular visits to offer guidance and spread best practice. 

Please contact or me with any questions you have or for any further information about Area 22 clubs or Toastmasters International.  You will not regret taking the all-important first step!

Hilary Benoit ACS, ALB (

Area 22 Director (2016/17)


Hi, I'm Nikita Parks, Director of Division J or "Joy Division" for 2019-20 in District 91, in Southern England and Wales.

I'm looking forward to serving you through a really dynamic year which is sure to see unprecedented levels of growth as long standing members endeavour to complete their Distinguished Toastmaster awards under the legacy education programme before it ends on 30th June 2020. Members have invested years of effort to get to this point and we're committed to doing our utmost to enable everyone to succeed in reaching their goals. It's going to be hard work, but let's make it fun. Let's cooperate! Let's build new clubs and let's revitalise struggling clubs.

It's also going to be a year in which Pathways takes the strain in the Distinguished Club Programme for the first time, with all members needing to complete the switch to Pathways within the same time frame. We're going to be building on the momentum we gained in 2018-19 to provide opportunity to all who want to, to step beyond their clubs and find what Toastmasters has to offer that fulfils the promise "Where leaders are made". 

I'm delighted to have a really strong team of committed officers with whom to share the joy of success that comes from outstanding teamwork.

  • Assistant Division Director and Division Club Growth Director - Andy Hessey
  • Division Programme Quality Director - Sam Warner
  • Area 4 Director and Cross-Club Mentoring Director - Diane Richardson
  • Area 7 Director and Speechcraft update Project Director - Murielle Sarda-Hutchings
  • Area 10 Director and Spring 2020 Conference Director - Bryan Gunton
  • Area 11 Director and June 2020 Toastmasters Leadership Institute Director - Jackie Preuss
  • Area 21 Director - Tom Hostetler
  • Area 22 Director and Autumn 2019 Conference Director - Carrie Baker 

By replicating our District trio within our Division, with Andy, Sam and myself, we are ensuring laser sharp focus on delivering our District mission within our Division - and we're determined to have fun doing it! This means that our Area Directors can focus more precisely on serving their area clubs and enabling them to be as successful as possible. Let's work towards our District goals of each member getting on average one education award per year, remaining a Toastmaster on average for three years (>70% retention) and all clubs having twenty or more members (100%).

If you're a club officer this year, please take pride in your work, take training really seriously by ensuring you get to our Toastmasters Leadership Institute, Area Club Officer Training or mop-up COT between now and the end of August and again between the start of December and the end of February. Think seriously about how you can achieve most for your club by bringing a wider focus from outside to bear in your club - engage Diane to find yourself one or more mentors from outside your clubs to enable you to grow further and faster. You can sign up to our TLI here:

If you're a regular club member, also think outside your club. Participate in contests and other events beyond your club. Participate in the Club Ambassador Programme by visiting other clubs across our District. Don't just turn up unannounced - get yourself a meeting role and make a lasting contribution by bringing and gaining fresh perspectives on how our meetings can be more fun, varied and rewarding. You can signup to our Speaker and General Evaluator exchange here: and make sure that your club President and VP Education ase signed up too. We're going to see new clubs appearing across Joy Division this year. Find a prospective club, get involved in arranging demonstration meetings, filling roles until the club has gained enough members to go it alone. You will grow yourself by enabling others to grow and feel good about doing it.

This is just the warm up. We have a month in which to plan, organise and prepare. Whatever you need from us to help you succeed - please just ask your District Officer Team. You can reach us at There are no silly questions except unasked ones: we're all growing and learning.

Best wishes for a successful, rearding and enjoyable year ahead.



t: 07770 661 453



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