Oh what a year!! – 2015/16 & Division S
Having taken a breath after the 30th June, I feel that we should celebrate, and put on the record, what a wonderful year it was for Toastmasters in Scotland.
Some of the highlights :
2 new Clubs chartered – Livingston Speakers & Clyde Communicators
4 new pre-charter Clubs – Dunfermline, Edinburgh Advanced, North Highland, Porty (Portobello)
37 new CCs
10 new Advanced Communication awards
34 Leadership awards
7 Presidents Distinguished Clubs (38%)
2 Select Distinguished Clubs (11%)
2 Distinguished Clubs (11%)
Overall, 61% of our Clubs were Distinguished
1 President’s Distinguished Area (Area 30)
1 Distinguished Area (Area 60), and
Division S was a Presidents Distinguished Division!
But, the most important highlight :
All of these statistics, but particularly the number of new members, is a tribute to the work of our Committees, and of our general members, in spreading ‘the word’ i.e. in ‘talking up Toastmasters’. It is also a reflection of the genuine belief amongst us all that Toastmasters can truly change lives, personally, professionally, and recreationally.
This past year has been truly inspirational to me.
I watched individual members develop their personal confidence and skillset, with the help, encouragement and support of their mentors, their Club Officers, and their fellow members. I saw Club Officers grow into their roles and become evangelical proponents of their Clubs and of Toastmasters in general. And I saw fledgling Clubs become strong vibrant Clubs, and our strong Clubs having the confidence to encourage and foster new offshoots.
But above all, I felt truly proud; as I watched the networking, cooperation and mutual support amongst our members and our Clubs, which confirmed that we are not in competition with one another, but we are all committed to spreading the word about the benefits that being a Toastmaster can bring.
In an organisational sense, this was most evident during our two Division-wide COT sessions (Club Officer Training), and our two Division contests. The Area COT sessions were combined, August in Perth and February in Edinburgh, for the first time. This initiative was very well received as the sharing of knowledge, and networking, had a much wider reach. Our two contests were spectacularly well attended, which helped to give our winners (Laura Bruce, James McGinty, and Jim Davidson) an experience that prepared them for the District finals.
It wasn’t all good news
Whilst this is primarily a ‘good news’ report, I cannot reflect on 2015/16 without remembering that we have lost two stalwart & pioneering members of our small community in the last 12 months. Oscar Merkx and Alex Roberts embodied everything that I am praising about Division S. They founded Clubs, they supported Clubs, they encouraged other members and they mentored committees. We lost them, much too early, within a few weeks of one another, last Autumn. They are both sadly missed.
On a more prosaic level, but one that would be appreciated by Oscar and Alex, I have concerns about membership retention. While I mentioned above that Division S admitted 237 new members in 2015/16, we only finished the year with an additional 42 members (even with two new Clubs). I am aware that a portion of our membership is always transient, whether people join with short term goals in mind, or personal/educational/professional developments take them elsewhere, but I would recommend that retention gets as much time and attention as member growth, in 2016/17.
And finally, some ‘thank you’s!
I will keep this relatively short (omitting the ‘without whom I wouldn’t be here’ category), but all of the achievements listed are based on the work of others, and I am just reaping the kudos!
First of all, I would like to recognise the work of all our Club Committees; and the harmonious blend of long-standing members who are willing to share their acquired knowledge, and newer members who are prepared to learn on the job and give back to their Clubs.
Secondly, I would like to recognise the work and enthusiasm of my three Area Directors (Edmund McKay, Edwyn Newman, and Max Ridder-Patrick) and their assistants as they advised, cajoled, and coerced (!) during 2015/16.
Thirdly, my predecessor Sheila Fraser, the District Leadership Team (especially Kevin), and my fellow District Officers, who all pointed me in the right direction when I wanted to reinvent wheels.
Finally, I would like to thank two ladies who encouraged me when I thought about standing for the Division Director role, and who were individual rocks of common-sense at various times during the year : Jane Cameron & Moira Beaton.
And, in conclusion …
It’s been a great year, both personally and organisationally. I genuinely appreciate the opportunities that it gave me, to develop myself and to meet so many amazing people.
I would recommend it to anyone.
I do believe that Division S has engaged, it has inspired, and it has excelled.
(and, I leave you in very capable hands. Best wishes to Max & his team)
Eoin 31st July 2016
Eoin Mc Dunphy ACS ALB
Division Director 2015/16
Division S District 71
"Engage, Inspire, Excel"