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District 71 
District 91 

Past Meetings (2017)  
Meeting 28th November
Malvern Speakers November 28th 2017


David Evans - Hilary Benoit - Tristan Mitchell - Byron Chan

As well as providing a forum for professional people wishing to improve their public speaking skills in a friendly environment, the Toastmasters formula can also enable those who are literally terrified to stand up before an audience to overcome their fears and become competent speakers in their own right. And just two years after plucking up the courage to come to his first meeting, Dave Evans, now a leading member of the Malvern Speakers club, could describe how he had successfully made that journey.  He told in a relaxed and confident manner exactly how the club had helped him out of his starting position of a near-neurotic terror of having to talk to even a group of work colleagues.  He paid particular tribute to senior members Steve Birch and Sarah Williams for their mentoring support and encouragement.

Steve Birch was not present to hear this accolade, as he was one of four leading club members who were attending the final Gala Evening of an eight-week Youth Leadership Course conducted by Malvern Speakers for students at Droitwich Spa High School. This was ably led by Allan Roberts and Geoff Richardson. This followed two similar courses previously run for Malvern College seniors – underlining the value of Toastmasters’ educational role.

Other prepared speeches came from Manda Graham who presented a well-constructed case for art having a strongly practical value as well as its cultural and recreational aspects and pleaded for 1% of the education budget to be spent on art subjects, and Graham Sterry, who conjured an entertaining few minutes from a recent visit to Lanzarote.

Ben Colyer set a series of topical Budget-related subjects for the  impromptu short speeches and it was a new member Tristran Mitchell whose lively musings on the increased tax on white cider won the evening’s  vote for best Table Topic.  Dave Evans took the award for Best Speech, and Hilary Benoit’s expert appraisal of Manda Graham's speech won her the best evaluator ribbon.
Members will next meet for the club Christmas Dinner at the Great Malvern Hotel at 7.00pm on Tuesday December 12th, when the seasonal fare will be helped down by light-hearted speech-making activities.
Meeting 14th November
Malvern Speakers November 14th 2017


Tom Elliston - Steph Bilton - Will Dutton - Hilary Benoit

Malvern Speakers November 14 2017 from Colin Jackson 01684 577604 

A Malvern Speakers meeting can be quite an education – and last week’s was educational in more ways than one! Indeed, one of the three slots for prepared speeches actually was an ‘Educational’ – guidance from an experienced member on aspects of the Toastmasters’ practices. Caroline Bellhouse is just such a member, a club founder with experience both in Australia and the UK. She was therefore well qualified to give a lot of useful advice on creating and keeping a good club climate, from the nuts and bolts of organising a meeting to the importance of welcoming members old and new.

Another seasoned speaker, Roger Granville, certainly educated his audience with a fascinating well-researched account of the life and career of Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel Prizes. Most of us knew he was Swedish, but who knew that he built some 90 factories world wide, or that he had been seriously depressed by reading his own (largely uncomplimentary) obituaries when his brother’s death was widely mistaken by the press to have been his own?

Educational and entertaining in equal measure was Hilary Benoit’s tongue-in-cheek attempt to demystify quantum mechanics for the layman with the help of, among other things, superposition and Schrodinger’s Cat! Entitled Untangling Entanglement, and illustrated with some excellent on-screen visual aids, this was yet another polished performance by one of the club’s very best speakers. Unsurprisingly it earned the night’s Best Speech vote, while its evaluation by Will Dutton also won a blue ribbon.

A lively and challenging Table Topics session conducted by Tom Wood was won by Steph Bilton who would like to dry her washing out of doors beside a river!

Next meeting will take place at the usual venue of the Great Malvern Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday November 28th

For more information please contact Steve Birch -  or  07831 846997

Meeting 24th October
Tuesday 24th October 2017
L-R: Jane Anson, David Evans, and Jen Cashmore
Malvern Speakers October 24 2017 from Colin Jackson

It is notable how many new recruits to membership of Malvern Speakers are people who have recently given up employment to start up on their own. Many of these entrepreneurial types find a need to address audiences in the course of promoting their businesses and join the club to hone their public speaking skills.

Jane Anson, a graphic designer who recently went freelance, is a perfect example. Three years ago when she joined the club, she was literally terrified of standing up before an audience. Last week her well-paced and well-constructed talk, delivered with confidence and poise, won her the Best Speech award – and the admiration of her fellow members.
It is hard to believe that much-decorated club president Steve Birch was once also afraid of speaking in public. There was no trace of those bad old days in his racy, illustrated account of ‘Twitching Down Under’ i.e. marvelling at the colourful bird life of Australia from where he had just returned. He also earned the gratitude of Jane Anson, who credited him with having coached her to her earlier success.

The final prepared speech came from Tom Wood, who used the opportunity to try out his stand-up skills prior to a forthcoming appearance on stage in Calgary, Canada! Are the cowboys ready for our Tom, we wondered?

Presiding over these main speeches as Toastmaster was the genial and ever-smiling Tom Elliston.

Winner of Manda Graham’s table topics session was hard-working Dave Evans, who doubled as grammarian and um-counter as well as carrying out much of the housework involved in setting up and dismantling the meeting.

Next meeting be at 7.30pm on Tuesday November 14th at the Great Malvern Hotel, which will also be the venue for the club Christmas dinner on December 12. Places will be limited, and issued on a first come first served basis, so members are advised to book early!
Contact Steve Birch 07831 846997 for more information or email (
Meeting 10th October

Tuesday 10th October 2017

L-R: Hazel Robinson, Roger Granville and William Dutton

Meeting 26th September

Tuesday 26th September 2017

L - R: Graham Sterry, Karen Lowen, and Jen Cashmore

Meeting 22nd August

L - R: Graham Rodgers, Karen Lowen, David Evans and Sarah Williams

Meeting Report Tuesday 22nd August 2017 

Quirky was the Word of the Day, chosen by Grammarian Rob Allen, and it was well used by many speakers (which is the idea).  And quirky indeed were some of the subjects set by Will Dutton for the unprepared Table Topics session. “Volunteers” were selected and asked to give a 2 minute off the cuff speech on various quirky themes!  Rob Allen, if he was an animal would like to be a sheepdog; unexpectedly Alan Roberts’ favoured plant was grass; Tom Wood’s vehicle of choice was not a Ferrari, but a farm tractor!  However it was Dave Evans’ persuasive case for being a ladle, of all things, that won the vote for best topic.

There was an upbeat tone about all three main speeches.  Graham Sterry, after presenting a devastating critique of Brexit, its authors, its progress and its likely outcomes, ended by saying that despite all, he remained hopeful about the future for post-Brexit Britain. 

There was a remarkable similarity between the other two contributions, both from lady members describing how they had built up their own businesses.  Recent club joiner from Ledbury,  Manda Graham was making her first, ‘icebreaker’ speech, in which new members introduce themselves to  the club. Despite some natural nervousness, which earned her the Um Pig for the most ums and er of the evening, she gave an absorbing account of her progress via maths and archaeology to running her own arts company.

Delight and  some surprise were equally in evidence in accountant Karen Lowen speech. She described how her practical knowledge of clients’ income tax affairs had led her, with no special digital experience or expertise (and after some sword-crossing with HMRC!), to develop two specialist software packages which she now markets through her own company. Her smiling account of her two-year journey to becoming a software developer charmed her audience and won her the night’s Best Speech ribbon.  Sarah Williams (Area Director), recently welcomed back to club meetings after some time absent, won Best Evaluator for her typically penetrating assessment of Graham Sterry’s Brexit broadside.

Next meeting, at 7.30pm at the Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday September 12, will take the form of a contest from which the winners will go forward to compete at an Area stage in October. Never a dull moment at Malvern Speakers!   Guests welcome as always. 

Contact Steve Birch 07831 846997 or email:

Meeting 8th August

L - R: Jen Cashmore, Ben Colyer and Stephanie Bilton

Meeting Report Tuesday 8th August 2017 

Hilarious (derived from the ancient Greek hilari – cheerful) was the Word of the Day, which speakers are challenged to bring into their speeches.  And if hilarity had been the sole criterion, the winner would undoubtedly been Tom Elliston, whose speech required him to use body language to enhance its impact. Now Tom is always fairly active on the podium, and illustrating his chosen topic of making friends and influencing people, using hapless Toastmaster Tom Wood as a  demonstration model, he put on a truly hilarious show to outdo John McCririck’s frantic gestures as a bookies’  tic-tac man.

In contrast, Byron Chan’s earnest talk was designed to persuade his audience of the case for co-housing – a modern concept for creating a complex with individual dwellings linked to common facilities.  This, he claimed, could have three major benefits – reducing loneliness,  improve health and increasing social contacts – sounding in fact pretty much like traditional village life!

In the event the vote for the night’s best speech went to Ben Colyer, for only his second speech, 18 months after the first, as his evaluator Jen Cashmore pointed out. It was clear, though, from Ben’s well researched, confidently delivered and thoroughly interesting “Caffeine for Dummies” - a guide to all things coffee – that he had made good use of of the intervening time.   

Another Ben – Ben Yapp – took on the role of Table Topics Master, inviting unprepared speakers to consider how they might fare living in unusual places, such as next to a nuclear power plant (Steve Birch), a landfill site (Graham Sterry) or a swamp (Kenny Kayani). Caroline Bellhouse, asked to consider living in a cave, ingeniously drew on the previous speeches for her item.  But it was first-timer Stephanie Bilton who was voted best for her charming imaginings of life at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! 

Never a dull moment at Malvern Speakers! The next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday August 22nd at 7.30pm.  Guests welcome as always. 

Contact Steve Birch 07831 846997 or email:

Meeting 25th July

L - R: Caroline Bellhouse and Roger Granvile

Meeting Report Tuesday 25th July 2017 

Malvern Speakers July 25 2017                                                  from Colin Jackson 01684 577604

One of the pleasures of Malvern Speakers’ meetings is the way speeches can vary from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching and each meeting has its own particular flavour. 

Hilarity was the order of the day in last week’s opening prepared speech “My Body Speaks” from Tom Wood, a topic designed to bring out the value of body language in engaging an audience.  Now Tom is a big husky fellow- a martial arts enthusiast endowed with an appropriately impressive  body and voice.  His high-decibel cries and cavorting gestures as he described his efforts at dancing – among many other physical activities – delighted his listeners. 

Much quieter and low-key in manner was Jane Anson’s paean of praise to “A very Moorish city” -  Spain’s Granada, where she recently spent an extended holiday and described vividly with real warmth and affection.  As someone who joined the club to help overcome her natural nervousness at speaking in public, Jane earned many compliments for her increasingly confident delivery and stage presence.

Final speaker was senior club member Roger Granville, an advanced speaker, the brief for whose  speech was to inspire and develop emotional rapport with his audience.  This he did in spades, with his account of the impact of his brother’s sudden and unexplained disappearance in 1995.  Twenty years later, after repeated attempts to find him, the family applied to have him legally declared dead  Only later did it emerge that he was alive and living in Grand Cayman – but refusing to resume contact with his family. This dramatic true story, delivered in Roger’s refreshingly slowly-paced and unsensational manner, with sparsely economical use of words, had his audience on the edge of their seats. It also won him the night’s Best Speech vote. 

Unusually, both the evening’s other two awards went to Caroline Bellhouse. Firstly for her evaluation of Roger’s speech, and secondly for her contribution to Kenny Kayani’s Table Topic session, in which half a dozen speakers were invited to talk about a sport in which they might compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! 

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday August 6th at 7.30pm.  Guests welcome – why not come along and sample this friendly club?   Contact Steve Birch 07831 846997 or email:

Meeting 11th July

Meeting Report Tuesday 11th July 2017 

Although the main bakers (Colin & Steve) were absent, a call to arms from Immediate Past President Elaine Watt gave rise to a plethora of Cake for which the club is widely famous in the TM world.

  • Even though a number of seasoned speakers were not in attendance, the meeting still provided plenty of “meat in the sandwich”, presided over by the experienced hand of Sarah Williams.
  • Toastmaster Graham Sterry managed to find a small window in his busy schedule having moved house that day, to get things off to a flying start.
  • In his subsequent report, Um Counter Rob Allen introduced us to his new gauging system of verbal faux pas known as the “UPM” (Ums per minute) having explained that statistically, a 20 minute speech would most likely have far more verbal crutches in its content as opposed to a 1 minute Table Topic. This award was duly granted to Geoff Richardson in his evaluation of all the Table Topic speeches, who received his Um Pig most graciously
  • The award for Best Table Topic went to visiting toastmaster Nick van der Walle from Gloucester Speakers, whose impromptu speech about being a Sheep Shearer in his past life (a title given to him by Sarah Williams as TT Master) was extremely convincing to all.
  • Grammarian Jen Cashmore’s choice of “Bruitaliser” as Word of the Day, presented a challenge to many of the speakers, as reported in her summing up report reflected, although she was pleased to see a “flurry” of activity towards the end of the evening, following a somewhat “lack luster” start – her own words.
  • Following a detailed Educational presentation of the Distinguished Club Program and the use of the club’s “EasySpeak” website by Dave Evans, the two following speeches from Roger Granville (another impromptu speech of nearly 6 minutes about the need for a new venue for the Tewkesbury Historical Society), and Tom Elliston (that very tricky subject of “Brexit” where Tom volunteered his decision to vote “out” to the audience citing his detailed reasons why), provided great entertainment, but it was Tom Elliston’s speech entitled “My Vision of the Future” that won him Best Speaker.
  • Although Geoff Richardson had the unenviable task of collecting the Um Pig for his multiple “ums & ah’s”, his very detailed and entertaining evaluation of the Table Topics duly awarded him Best Evaluator of the night.
  • All in all, another entertaining evening for the club, summed up in great detail at the end by Stand-In General Evaluator Roger Granville.

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday July 25th at 7.30pm.  Guests welcome – why not come along and sample this friendly club?   Contact Steve Birch 07831 846997 or email:

Meeting 27th June

L-R: Jane Anson, Caroline Bellhouse and Steve Birch. Awards presented by Elaine Watt

Tuesday 27th June 2017 Club Journalist: Colin Jackson

It is a shame that not more people enjoy the meetings of Malvern Speakers, as at their best they surely provide some of the most interesting, stimulating and varied entertainment in town.

This was well shown last week, when cries of “You should do that at Glastonbury!” greeted Hilary Benoit’s remarkable speech, in which she demonstrated what she claimed could be a useful skill for anyone asked to produce a party piece at short notice.  Hilary is a skilled and experienced belly-dancing teacher, and she showed how to do it while balancing a sword on your head – which she actually did! (Other props needed for her party piece, but not all there, included beer, crisps, a cheeseburger, a hula hoop and being up to the waist in mud - plus being punched in the stomach!). Delivered with her usual confidence, charm and credibility, the speech delighted her audience and predictably won the Best Speech vote.

Hilary Benoit

Colin Jackson 

In complete contrast were Geoff Richardson’s thought-provoking musings on the lack of trust in modern society – so topical in these times of fake news, cyber-attacks, on-line trolling and similar phenomena.  He concluded that trust in society might best be rebuilt if each individual set out themselves to be more trustworthy, defining the three main requirements as reliability, honesty and humility.

Caroline Bellhouse
won the Best Evaluation prize for her skilful critique of Hilary’s tour de force. And at the end of the meeting founder chairman Steve Birch, who earlier this year was awarded the title of Distinguished Toastmaster, was named by retiring president Elaine Watt as the club’s Toastmaster of the Year.Byron Chan’s seasonally appropriate choice of summer pleasures as the subject matter for the unprepared Table Topics session brought forth a variety of responses. These ranged from Colin Jackson’s celebration of the joys of asparagus and newly dug potatoes and Angela Davison’s  growing up as a child close to the country’s largest and best equipped playground to Jane Anson’s vivid evocation of the tranquillity of an early morning canoe trip on the Wye.  Her winning the Best Table Topic vote was the more remarkable for someone who before joining the club was by her own admission unable to string two words together in public!

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday July 11th at 7.30pm.  Guests welcome – why not come along and sample this friendly club?   Contact Steve Birch 07831 846997 or email:

Meeting 13th June

L-R: Jen Cashmore, Rodger Granvile, and David Evans

Tuesday 13th June 2017 Club Journalist: Colin Jackson

This was a mixed bag of a meeting, which started  with Tom Elliston’s  - perhaps inevitably General Election-related -Table Topics session, in which participants were invited to give their spontaneous opinions of the various parties’ campaign logos.  Winner wasDave Evans (clearly not a Green) for his observations on that party’s ambitions (plus thoughts on a few of the others too).

With elections for the club committee imminent, it was perfect timing for Dave Evans’s exposition of the structure of the club and the various roles and responsibilities of members. What might have been rather dry fare proved to be anything but, thanks to Dave’s relaxed and down-to-earth presentation in admirably jargon-free Plain English.

The three main speeches varied widely.  Tom Wood had decided on a last-minute change of topic on learning that he was to become a father for the first time, and shared the experience with audience in an emotional talk amusingly entitled “You’re not meant to know yet”.  Equally deeply felt was Graham Sterry’s explaining how after a successful business career he finally realised  his true destiny - “I should have been an artist” by writing a book , soon to be published, with his artist partner.

The evening’s highlight however was surely founder member Roger Granville’s remarkable one-man rendering of a good chunk of Act 2 of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (for younger readers, the source play for the musical My Fair Lady).  Playing five different parts, distinguished only by vocal variation, Roger’s cast ranged by turns from posh Professor Henry Higgins to Cockney Eliza Doolittle.  His rendering of the snooty housekeeper Mrs Pearce will remain long in the memory. His performance not only won the vote for night’s Best Speech but secured for the club the Toastmasters International style of President’s Distinguished Club for the third year running.

Next club meeting will be at the usual venue – the Great Malvern Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday June 27th.  Come along and see what happens: guests (free of charge) receive not only a warm welcome but also home-made cake at the mid-meeting break! 

Meeting 23rd May (Speechathon)
 3rd Place: Tom Wood 1st Place: Jen Cashmore  2nd Place: Sarah Williams

Tuesday 23rd May 2017 Club Journalist: Colin Jackson

It was truly a case of from the sublime to the ridiculous at the 100th meeting of the Toastmasters International-affiliated Malvern Speakers club, just four years after its formation in 2013. The evening took the form of a Speechathon – a succession of eight speeches without the usual intervening introductions and evaluations.
Subjects ranged from Sarah Williams moving tribute to a much-loved sister lost too early to cancer to Roger Granvilles lucid description of the club’s successful outreach leadership programme in the local community.
And at the other extreme we had a barefoot Tom Wood’s account of his martial arts prowess, illustrated by his wrestling live with a full size dummy, and Jen Cashmore’s hilariously surreal exposition – again with copious visual aids, such as blueberries, rolled oats and numerous pies – of the absolutely certain effectiveness of The Steak and Kidney Pie Method of Pain Relief!

The other four speakers chose equally varied topics, from the foibles of weather forecasters and proposing a toast, to emotional intelligence and a world best-selling novel by a Brazilian author.

In the end, frivolity trumped solemnity, and it was Jen Cashmore who went home with the winner’s shield for the evening’s best speech, with Sarah Williams voted second and Tom Wood third.

A core of the founder members from 2013 remain with the club, but there has been a constant turnover across the four years. New members are joining all the time, usually after first attending as guests, then staying on to improve their speaking skills and enjoy the warm welcome always extended to newcomers.

The next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday May 30th, when guest will (of course) be most welcome. Special film showing of "The Speech"
Meeting 9th May

L-R: Luke Comerford, David Evans, and Tom Ellison

Malvern Speakers Meeting 9th May 2017 -  Colin Jackson

We never knew maths could be such fun! Tom Ellison’s joyful explanation of fractals and their applications - from the shape of snowflakes to the Ordnance Survey’s determination of the shape of the  British coastline (which completely baffled your innumerate correspondent) – was delivered with smiles and plenty of body language and so enthused his audience that he was voted the night’s Best Speaker.

Tom employed cheap-and-cheerful flip charts to illustrate his points:  Byron Chan went for more sophisticated Powerpoint images to back up his talk.   As a trainee architect, he felt that the public knew too little about what architects actually do, and explained in particular how they work with representatives of other disciplines, especially on large projects such as hospitals.

The third speech was a first-time icebreaker from recently joined member Kenny Kayani, whose initial nervousness soon dissipated as he continued with a confidently delivered  account of his own life and background.  Particularly interesting was how his grandfather, fighting in Burma for the Indian Army, had been befriended by a British soldier which led to a post-war visit to Tees-side where he settled and married a local girl; their child was Kenny’s father.

Unusual hobbies was the subject chosen by Colin Jackson who conducted the unprepared Table Topics session.  Speakers, several of them novices, were asked to explain why they would, - or would not - like to take up activities as varied as handcuff collecting, extreme ironing and tachophilia (the enjoyment of cemeteries).  It was one of the brave first timers, Luke Comerford, who won the vote for his enthusiastic reaction to the idea of beetle fighting as a hobby.

The club’s next meeting will be its 100th since its formation just four years ago and will take the form of a Speakathon – eight consecutive speeches without the usual evaluations, um-counting and grammar assessment. And at the half-time break, instead of the home-make cakes for which the club is noted, members have been asked to bring along savoury items instead.  At the Great Malvern Hotel at 7/30pm on Tuesday May 23rd – guests welcome as always. 

Next meeting will be at the usual venue, the Great Malvern Hotel, on Tuesday May 9rd at 7.30pm, guests welcome as always.  Members were also advised that the May 23rd meeting, the 100th since the club’s formation in 2013, would take the form of a Speakathon, with double the usual number of speeches and without the customary votes and evaluations. 

Meeting 25th April

L-R: Zara Heaven, Mark Mcleod, and Zelie Cleaver

Malvern Speakers Meeting 25th April 2017 - Sarah Williams
(Edited by Colin Jackson)

It was newbies’ night at the latest meeting! Yet again, a first-timer’s ‘icebreaker’ speech beat veteran orators in the vote for the night’s Best Speaker, under Karen Lowen as an expert Toastmaster, also her first time in that role.

Zelie Cleaver’s humorous, but moving, talk about how a childhood event and her father’s choice of names (altered at the last minute by her mother to avoid having XYZ as initials!) had affected her confidence and ability to talk in public.

Jen Cashmore whose aim was to introduce tension and drama, cleverly split her speech into three different stories, leaving each tale half told and her audience desperately waiting for the endings. Hazel Robinson’s was a beautifully told description of a childhood holiday home. She took us on a tour of a memory evoked by an old photograph of her family, found when Hazel raided her parents photograph album for their 40th wedding anniversary.
Graham Sterry set a challenging series of Table Topics for the unprepared speeches on the theme of News at Ten with Trevor MacDonald. Winner was Mark Mcleod, another welcome recent recruit to the club, who spoke about Portuguese Men O’ War – which turned out to be more akin to the Spanish Armada than to jellyfish!

Taking the role for the first time, Dave Evans had the daunting task of evaluating the table topics – a task that, like the speeches themselves, allows almost no time for preparation. In the evaluations of the prepared speeches yet another first-timer, Zara Heaven, beat more experienced members Roger Granville and Sarah Williams in the vote for the night’s Best Evaluator.

Next meeting will be at The Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday 9th May at 7.30pm. Guests welcome.

Next meeting will be at the usual venue, the Great Malvern Hotel, on Tuesday May 9th at 7.30pm, guests welcome as always.  Members were also advised that the May 23rd meeting, the 100th since the club’s formation in 2013, would take the form of a Speakathon, with double the usual number of speeches and without the customary votes and evaluations. 

Meeting 11th April

L-R: Rob Allen, Stan Cantrill, Hazel Robinson, and David Evans

It was fitting that Dave Evans, stepping down after two years as a highly efficient Sergeant-at-Arms (Toastmaster-Speak for general meeting organiser!), should have won the vote for Best Speaker with a speech entitled  “So Have I Got OCD?”  After an interesting and well researched talk explaining the condition known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, he reached the conclusion that although he was always highly organised and tidy-minded he did not have OCD – just that he was, in his own words, “a fussy b****r”!   

Very different was the second main speech from the club’s very own international judo champion Stan Cantrill, who explained using actual garments to illustrate his points, the descent of the distinctive clothing worn by modern judo athletes from the defensive armour worn by samurai warriors – whom he memorably described as “hired thugs”.

Graham Sterry, used the catch-phrase of Private Fraser -”We’re Doomed, Captain Mainwaring!” as a basis for musings about the law of unintended consequences.  Among these were a bounty offered in the Indian Raj for dead cobras, in an attempt to eliminate the deadly snakes, but which actually resulted in the development of cobra farms to breed even more of them to claim the cash reward.  Another was how the food shortages of World War II had bred a generation not afflicted by the problems of obesity being suffered by the children of more recent times of plenty.

A lively session of short impromptu speeches on topics set by Ben Colyer was won by Rob Allen, for his tirade against the commercial exploitation of special occasions such as Mother’s Day.   Hazel Robinson’s thorough assessment of Stan Cantrill’s speech was adjudged Best Evaluation.

Next meeting will be at the usual venue, the Great Malvern Hotel, on Tuesday April 25th at 7.30pm, guests welcome as always.  Members were also advised that the May 23rd meeting, the 100th since the club’s formation in 2013, would take the form of a Speakathon, with double the usual number of speeches and without the customary votes and evaluations. 

Meeting 21st March

Winners from the evening L-R:

  • David Evans - Best Evaluator
  • Jen Cashmore - Best Speaker
  • Rodget Granville - Best Table Topic

Awards for helping with the Youth Leadership L-R:

  • Tom Wood
  • Rodger Granville
Meeting 28th February

Club Meeting Report

Tuesday 28th February 2017


L-R: Caroline Bellhouse, Alan Roberts and Sarah Williams

Journalist: Caroline Bellhouse 

The variety both of mood and subject matter at Malvern Speakers’ meetings never fails to surprise. Both moving and inspirational was Alan Roberts’ description of how, having quite suddenly almost completely lost his sight, he tried to rebuild his life by undertaking voluntary work. How ever he was told by the first 30 organisations he contacted that he was useless to them – which did nothing for his shattered self-confidence.  At last he was taken on by the Worcester Association of Carers to contact by phone those caring full time for someone at home and in need of someone to talk to. Revitalised by finding that he could really help such people, he has since learned to touch type, written books, joined various professional organisations and even become a Councillor.  It was no wonder his quiet account of this chain of events won him the evening’s Best Speech vote.

Equally moving was Tom Wood’s courageous account of his struggle with mental illness, avoiding human contact and at one stage not leaving home for five weeks. During that time he wrote and  published a book, and through working for the betterment of others had come out of his depression.  Despite the sombre subject, Tom’s twinkling sense of humour kept surfacing, showing how impressively he was controlling his demons. Sarah Williams’ comprehensive and sensitive appreciation of this speech won Best Evaluation. summed up in a quotation poet Emily Dickinson: “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough”.

The unprepared session with its imaginative Shrove Tuesday-based subjects chosen by Zara Heaven produced some remarkable short talks, notably Angela Davison’s description of a childhood race with tin cans tied to the shoes!  But it was Caroline Bellhouse’s recollections of family Pancake Days in her youth that won the Best Table Topic vote.

The next meeting will take the form of the first, club round of the International contest for serious and humorous speeches, which could lead even to a final appearance overseas.  It will take place at the Great Malvern Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday March 14th.   Guests warmly welcomed as always.     

A date for your diary is May 30th when the film ‘Speak’ will be shown. All welcome.

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern at 7.30pm on Tuesday March 14th – when new faces will be made most welcome. It is also our Club Competiton evening  EVERYONE WELCOME

Contact Steve Birch - 07831 846997

Interested guests and potential new members always welcome.

Further information on Malvern Speakers please contact:

 Steve Birch

01684 568676 / 07831 846997

Next Meeting Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 7:15pm for a prompt start

Our Toastmaster for the evening will be:

Dave Evans - Contest Chair 


The Great Malvern Hotel, Graham Road, Malvern

Worcestershire WR14 2HN

Steve Birch DTM

( - 07831 846997

Meeting 14th February

Club Meeting Report

Tuesday 14th February 2017


L-R: Dave Bradley, Zara Heaven and Steve Birch

Journalist: Caroline Bellhouse 

Malvern Speakers Meeting Report. 14.2.17 - Caroline Bellhouse 
Love was certainly in the air with red heart tablecloths and John Paul Young playing as David Evans welcomed members and guests. Stan Cantrill had chosen ‘heart’ as the word of the evening which was used in many ways from heart of the matter to heartfelt, heart broken and take heart. 
The impromptu topics, posed by David Evans, continued the theme and the audience learned that the way to Hilary Benoit's heart is with banana pudding, hot toddy and matching towels, that Tom Wood likes to ‘disappoint one woman at a time’ and that Graham Sterry's love affair with a machine – his bike – means that it would be the one thing he’d save in a house fire (after people and pets). Dave Bradley won best Table Topic with his usual humour and panache. Voted Best Evaluator of the evening, Steve Birch's usual humorous and informative style marked his evaluation of the ‘hearty range of table topics’.
The three prepared speeches were as varied as they were entertaining; Zara Heaven's ‘Animal Magnetism’ delved into the origins of the phrase, revealing fascinating details of gruesome eighteenth century medicine involving swallowing iron filings, a procedure devised by one Dr Mesmer (he of mesmerising fame). Zara explained that this seemed a long way from the ‘cut price celebrity aftershave’ that the phrase conjured up in her mind. This witty and informative speech was voted best of the night by the audience.
Geoff Richardson’s speech ‘Why Bother With Valentine’s Day?’ recounted the tale of the original Valentine, a third century priest who sent a letter to his jailor’s daughter and signed it ‘your Valentine’, and the rest is history. Having given a Valentine’s card to the same lady for 45 years, the speaker was certainly qualified to speak on the matter and urged the audience not to be cynical but to embrace the tradition which exists in various forms throughout the world.
Club President Elaine Watt was another speaker who spoke with authority on ‘The Art of Parenting’, being the proud and youthful mother of no fewer than four children. Her top tips included not panicking,; expecting children to get mucky, noisy and messy; run and hide if you need to (she revealed that she has hidden in a cupboard before now) ; and to realise that you will never be perfect. However, providing that you retain your values, and lead with your heart, then all will be well in the end. This warm speech earned Elaine the ‘Competent Communicator’ Award, for completing ten speeches and participating fully in the club.
The next meeting will be held at 7.30pm prompt on Tuesday 28th February at the Great Malvern Hotel and all are very welcome.
A date for your diary is May 30th when the film ‘Speak’ will be shown. All welcome.

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern at 7.30pm on Tuesday February 28th – when new faces will be made most welcome 

Contact Steve Birch - 07831 846997

Interested guests and potential new members always welcome.

Further information on Malvern Speakers please contact:

 Steve Birch

01684 568676 / 07831 846997

Next Meeting Tuesday 28th February 2017 at 7:15pm for a prompt start

Our Toastmaster for the evening will be:



The Great Malvern Hotel, Graham Road, Malvern

Worcestershire WR14 2HN

Steve Birch DTM

( - 07831 846997

Meeting 24th January

Club Meeting Report

Tuesday 24th January 2017


L-R: Jim Ballard, Tom Elliston and Jim Moffat

Journalist: Colin Jackson

New faces keep appearing at Malvern Speakers meetings.  Last week’s was typical – with no fewer than six first-time “most welcome guests” (the Toastmasters’ traditional salutation) joining twenty or so club members at the Great Malvern Hotel – and ensuring the total demolition of all three home-made cakes provided at the half-time break! 

Two of the newcomers bravely agreed to take part in the unprepared short speech session, in which Derek Serafini invited speakers to talk about childhood memories, favourite people, toys or food.  Eucalyptus’s description of Lobbies – a (presumably un-favourite)  dish remembered from his early days in Wigan, consisting mainly of potatoes, with corned beef and a watery sauce, was particularly memorable!  But it was Canadian-raised Jim Moffat who won the evening’s vote for  his moving tale of how a much-loved teacher had changed the course of his life.

Leading off the prepared speeches, Will Dutton baffled most of his audience with a presentation of a mathematical puzzle known as the Monty Hall problem.  His  talk’s title “How not to come home with a goat” was rivalled by that of the following speaker Tom Elliston with “Why do monks wear the same thing every day?”  The answer to that, of course, was “habit” - and Tom confidently and cheerfully gave us a formula for developing good, rather than bad habits, which included small steps, patience, and planning for failure.

Finally, Byron Chan offered three tips to sleep well, the most striking of which was perhaps the advice to not to look at your mobile/tablet/smartphone for at least two hours before bedtime. This is of course tantamount (Tom Wood’s Word of the Day) to being impossible for social media addicts!  

Tom Elliston won Best Speech, while Jim Ballard’s comprehensive and constructive assessment of the table topic speeches earned him the Best Evaluator ribbon.  And of all people it was Toastmaster Dave Bradley who went home with the Um Pig awarded by Sarah Williams for the most ums and ers.

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern at 7.30pm on Valentine’s Day Tuesday February 14th – when new faces will be made most welcome 


Contact Steve Birch - 07831 846997

Interested guests and potential new members always welcome.

Further information on Malvern Speakers please contact:

 Steve Birch

01684 568676 / 07831 846997

Next Meeting Tuesday 24th February 2017 at 7:15pm for a prompt start

Our Toastmaster for the evening will be:



The Great Malvern Hotel, Graham Road, Malvern

Worcestershire WR14 2HN

Steve Birch ACS ALS

( - 07831 846997

Meeting 10th January

Club Meeting Report

Tuesday 10th January 2017

L-R: Dave Bradley, Jen Cashmore and Dave Evans

Journalist: Colin Jackson

It was a pretty provocative title for a speech: “Is Toastmasters A Cult?” (Malvern Speakers is a member club of Toastmasters International). But Jen Cashmore showed no lack of self-confidence as she put aside the lectern and fluently and entertainingly answered her own question. For a while, her listeners may have been a little worried, as she described a recent personal encounter with a religious cult. She compared their approach with that of Malvern Speakers. Yes, they were friendly and welcoming Yes, they offered free food (the club is noted for the home-made cakes provided in the mid-meeting breaks). Yes, they tried to get you to become a member… It was a relief when she told us that the two conditions of cult membership – that one should surrender all personal possessions and agree to the cult practice of free love – finally reassured her that Toastmasters was NOT a cult! This was a well-structured speech, delivered with humour and panache.

After the cake break, there was a contrast as ‘super-sub’ Roger Granville, who was standing in at less than 24 hours notice, gave a re-rendering of President Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech “We Choose To Go To The Moon” speech. Roger’s homely west country accent contrasted with the sharp-edged New England twang of the original, but the speech lacked nothing in gravitas and sense of destiny.

There was yet another contrast in the final prepared speech, Karen Lowen’s “Absolutely Unspecial” - a moving account of watching a once-brilliant child slip into adulthood mediocrity under the influence of a lifelong neurological condition.

For the unprepared Table Topics session, Byron Chan looked ahead into the New Year and invited speakers to outline their hopes for the future. A typically humorous description of his annual post- Christmas venture into the local Weight watchers class won the evening’s prize for Dave Bradley. Jen Cashmore’s was voted best prepared speech, with Dave Evans Best Evaluator for his sympathetic appraisal of Karen Lowen’s contribution.

Next meeting will be at the usual venue of the Great Malvern Hotel at 7/30pm on Tuesday January 24th – guests (free of charge!) welcome as always.

Contact Steve Birch - 07831 846997

Interested guests and potential new members always welcome.

Further information on Malvern Speakers please contact:

Steve Birch

01684 568676 / 07831 846997

Next Meeting Tuesday 10th January 2017 at 7:15pm for a prompt start

Our Toastmaster for the evening will be:



The Great Malvern Hotel, Graham Road, Malvern

Worcestershire WR14 2HN

Steve Birch ACS ALS

( - 07831 846997


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