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District 71 
District 91 

Past Meetings (2019)      
Meeting 28th May

Malvern Speakers Club Meeting – Tuesday 28th May 2019

The meeting was started by our stand-in Sergeant at Arms, Stuart Watt complete with his showman attire, top hat and glittery cane. Wow, we were all wowed! Stuart has a natural ability to lift any meeting with his humour, enthusiasm and pizzazz!

Theme of the night was Kylie Minouge’s birthday. This was expertly, and humorously, used by our Toastmaster Karen Lowen with hidden Kylie song titles used throughout the meeting.

The table topics session was expertly presented by Jackie Baker asking each speaker to choose an object and weave it into a continuing story. Yuri Douse was the well deserved winner telling us all about the magic of mobile phones. Rick Cooper evaluated the table topics with his usual skill ensuring every speaker left with both commendations and recommendations.

The first prepared speaker, Steph Bilton, regaled us all with three humorous accounts of travelling with exotic animals on various forms of public transport. With barely a glance at her notes Steph had the audience roaring with laughter at the various animal antics and deservedly won Best Speaker of the evening.

Next up was a duo of DTMs with Steve Birch and Rick Cooper presenting an educational entitled Roll with the Roles which was all about the roles needed during a meeting. Laurel and Hardy must have been turning in their graves.

Our last speaker was Elaine Watt, still in her Strictly come Dancing attire, telling us about getting out of your comfort zone. No notes but no twirl! Elaine really commands the stage and grabs the audience’s attention, especially in her 50s style shorts!

Best Evaluator went to Claire Davies for presenting one of the best evaluations seen at Malvern Speakers for quite some time. Her use of language, grammar and insight was amazing. As Sam Warner stated: “that evaluation was competition standard”.

Karen Lowen, our Toastmaster, presented a certificate for the most Kylie song titles to Steve Birch for his obvious knowledge of Kylie Minogue songs.

At the end of the meeting our Area Director, Sam Warner, presented Hilary Benoit with her DTM Plaque (Distinguished Toastmaster). Hilary has supported Malvern Speakers and its members since its inception in 2013, very well deserved. Sam then presented Steve Birch with TOTY (Toastmaster of the Year) for District 71 for his work and dedication to Toastmasters and its members.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 11th June 2019. 7.15pm for a prompt 7.30pm start. Bring a friend, bring a relation.

Meeting 14th May


Caroline Bellhouse | Claire Davies | Karen Lowen

Malvern Speakers Meeting 14th May 2019.

Journalist - Caroline Bellhouse

The sixth anniversary meeting of Malvern Speakers aptly began with the announcement that founder and stalwart member, Steve Birch was recently voted UK’s Toastmaster of The Year. The award recognises dedication and exceptional service; certainly, members are proud and grateful to have Steve in our club.

David Evans sobering presentation on The Perils of Manufacturing highlighted how very costly ‘the indecision of Brexit’ is to so many industries. Due to the back log of supplies leaving Calais, parts now take weeks rather than days which has resulted in panic buying on a huge scale; BMW for example, have increased storage in the UK by 70% to cope with the backlog. Claire Davies positive and analytical evaluation of the presentation was justly awarded Best Evaluation.

In ‘How to send your trousers by Fed Ex to Indianapolis’, Roger Granville amused his audience with his frustrating experiences of hotel laundry services, complete with prop of ‘bio-hazard’ dirty washing in a plastic bag.

Caroline Bellhouse took members on a sun-soaked journey from sunrise to sunset through a cascade of colourful images of skies around the world taken on recent travels. The sunshine wooed the audience to vote the presenter Best Speaker on the night.

The impromptu session brought out the amateur dramatists in the audience; Graham Sterry became an incensed Che Guevara, David Evans was a remarkable likeness of Winston Churchill on discovering he was a twin of Adolf Hitler but it was Karen Lowen's portrayal of Ms Important Double-Barrell that was voted best Table Topic Speaker.

A varied and enjoyable evening was had by all and the next meeting is on 28th May at Great Malvern Hotel 7.30pm start.
All welcome and free entry.
Meeting 23th April

Paul Davies | Stephanie Bilton | Will Dutton | Jen Cashmore | Hilary Benoit

Malvern Speakers report April 23 2019 Colin Jackson CC

Recent unseasonably summery weather had led Isaac Baker to opt for a holiday theme for his Table Topics session. Most participants rose bravely to the challenge, with cherished memories of places as far apart as Morecambe, Cornwall and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Two speakers rather let him down, however. Jen Cashmore, invited to recall a favourite outdoor meal, revealed a preference for the comforts of home, the sofa and the TV to open-air gastronomy; while Caroline Bellhouse, asked about her favourite ice cream, explained that she didn’t like the stuff at all, and amazed her audience with a description of a Malaysian equivalent featuring shaved ice and sweet corn!

In the first of the prepared speeches, a more serious note was struck by Isaac’s Mum Jackie Baker, with her thoughts on the importance of managing her personal time. This brought out the surprising detail that one day she had to admit to an unimpressed husband that she had spent 4½ hours looking after the dog!

Humour was never far from the surface in the confidently delivered icebreaker speech by new-dad-of-three-months Paul Davies. His subject – French Kids Don’t Throw Food – examined differences between the French and British ways of bringing up children. He identified three key principles: teach them to wait, give treats at just one time of day: and feed kids the same food as adults – giving them their veg first while they are really hungry!

“...and I thought he was such a nice young man” was Steph Bilton’s wistful comment as she began her evaluation of Will Dutton’s provocatively titled How To Lose Your Friends. It turned out that this was through the game of Monopoly, in which Will is obviously an expert. His advice: be as greedy as possible; drive a hard bargain when trading properties; and build houses and hotels aggressively. His tongue-in-cheek talk really engaged his listeners, generating an animated post-speech discussion and the evening’s Best Speech ribbon for Will.

Steph Bilton’s recollections of her time as a maid-of-all-work and a marine attraction in Morecambe won her the Best Table Topic vote, while Jen Cashmore’s forensic appraisal of Jackie Baker’s speech was judged best evaluation.

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday May 14th guest welcome.
Meeting 9th April

Steve Birch | Karen Lowen | Jackie Baker | Isaac Baker


Malvern Speakers Report Tuesday April 9th 2019 

Attendance of members was somewhat depleted, as on the previous evening many had been to share the celebrations as Malvern’s daughter club Worcester had achieved Toastmasters International Charter status. However this deficiency was made up for by an unusually large number of guests who enjoyed a typically lively and varied meeting.

It opened with Mike Snoswell’s slightly surreal Dr Who-themed Table Topics session. Speakers responded with suitable flair and imagination with unprepared talks on some pretty weird subjects. It was the contribution from the club’s youngest member Isaac Baker, who also had a busy evening as Toastmaster, that was voted best.

There were two sparkling prepared speeches, the first from Tristan Mitchell, who considered The Problem with Problems. He pointed out that we are constantly solving problems without even realising it – for instance deciding which of 40,000 possible combinations of the order of putting on just eight garments when we dress in the morning!  He ended (with appropriate actions!) with the famous tale of Archimedes’ Eureka moment when solving a problem in the bath.

The other main speaker was accountant Karen Lowen, who set out to demonstrate that far from being a bean counter, her profession was daily full of interest and surprises.  Her point was convincingly (and entertainingly) made by her citing tax relief claims made by her clients for fertility treatment and a ‘nose job’ (one of which  was actually successful)!  She also quoted HMRC’s Top Ten list of totally ridiculous excuses offered for late tax returns, and outpointed Tristan for the Best Speech ribbon.

Annual committee elections saw veteran member Roger Granville elected President for the coming year.  Next meeting will be on at 7.30pm on St George’s Day, April 23rd at the usual venue, the Great Malvern Hotel.

Meeting 26th March


Tristan Mitchell | Stephanie Bilton | Steve Birch | Andrei Rezmeriță

Malvern Speakers report Tuesday March 26th 2019 - Colin Jckson

There was a rare achievement at last week’s meeting when a member making his debut ‘icebreaker’ address won the evening’s vote for Best Speech.  It was the more remarkable because it came from someone for whom English is not his first language.  Romanian-born Andrei Rezmeriță, now resident in Hereford, spoke with confidence and a fine command of English as he mused on life and happiness.  It was an additional accomplishment in that he outpointed  two other very experienced speakers in Jen Cashmore (President of the recently formed Worcester club and a Divisional finalist  in this year’s Toastmasters International speech competition) and Karen Lowen, who had stepped in at the last minute to fill a gap in the evening’s programme.

Jen’s speech, remarkably entitled The Body Is Its Own Pharmacy And Delight Writes The Prescriptions, was a plea for a positive and cheerful attitude to life as the best antidote to ill health.  As always she seasoned her talk with relevant statistics, including the remarkable one that 90 per cent of all illnesses treated by the NHS are stress-related.  Stress, she claimed, suppresses the natural pharmacy of the body.

More light-hearted was Karen’s address ‘Man: The Instruction Manual’ in which she fancied she had obtained a bionic man by mail order and she imagined what such a book of rules might say.  She used it to make a few telling feminist – if not sexist! - points, all delivered in her usual upbeat humorous manner.

The evening had begun in somewhat surreal style with Roger Granville’s Table Topics session.  Somerset-born Roger, using his authentic Wurzel accent, invited speakers to be witnesses at the trial of two youths accused of the heinous crime of having tipped over a cow in a field on Christmas Eve – yes really!  Victims rose imaginatively to this unusual challenge, with Steph Bilton’s use in evidence of the imprint of shoe sizes in the muddy field voted best. Steve Birch won the best evaluator's ribbon for his assessment of Jen Cashmore’s speech.

Next meeting will be at the Great Malvern Hotel on Tuesday April 9th at 7.30pm.  Visitors from near or far are always welcome – there was one from Liverpool this week!

Meeting 13th March



Graham Nelson | Jackie Baker | Isaac Baker | Karen Lowen | Tristan Mitchell | Jen Cashmore | Stuart Watt

Malvern Speakers report 12.3.2019  -  Colin Jackson

Those who attended the club round of the Toastmasters International Speech and Evaluation contest – a multi-round competition in which teams from around the world will fight out the final in the USA during the autumn- were rewarded by an enjoyable evening of excellent public speaking.  Three candidates for best speech were led off by Graham Sterry.  His musings on the vexed subject of computer passwords must have struck a chord with many of his listeners, who enjoyed his closing image of St Peter having been replaced at the Pearly Gates by a computer, which greets the latest arrival with the dread words Access Denied!.

Graham was followed by Karen Lowen, with a highly original critique of the “ethnicity” box people are required to fill up on census forms.  Revealing that her own ancestry included Turkish and Armenian strains, she concluded that such questions were out of order, since nobody was 100 per cent anything and that we were all multi-ethnic members of the human race.

Thirdly came a welcome return of former member Jen Cashmore, now president of the recently formed Worcester club under the title The Stories We Tell Ourselves asserting, with some moving examples from her personal experience, that the way we react to life’s most difficult problems can influence their outcomes for the better.

The high quality of these speeches was well maintained by the four contenders in the evaluation contest, each of whom had to give an appraisal of the same speech by Steve Birch – a parable of a poor peasant who becomes rich and greedy only to drop dead.  All were delivered with panache and conviction, and deciding between Isaac Baker, his mum Jackie Baker, Stuart Watt and Tristan Mitchell was a tough call for the judges. They named Tristan and Stuart the two best evaluators, while speech-makers Jen and Karen will join them in progressing to the Area Final in Cheltenham.

Meeting 12th February
Club Meeting Tuesday 12th February 2019 Colin Jackson

The membership of Malvern Speakers spans a remarkable age range – literally from18 to 80 – uniting the generations in pursuit of its aims of public speaking and leadership skills. Just how successful it has been in its five years of existence was highlighted by visiting Area Director Sam Warner, who praised its style and organisation, revealing that it stood in first place out of 164 Toastmasters International-affiliated member clubs in a District which covers most of southern England and Wales.

Senior members set the ball rolling at last week’s meeting, with Roger Granville and Stephanie Bilton’s polished unprepared responses to subjects set by Tristan Mitchell in an Oscar-themed Table Topics session. And despite warm competition from other speakers – including two gallant visitors – it was Steph’s tongue-in-cheek appeal for sympathy for Men as an Endangered Species that won the night’s Best Table Topic ribbon.

All round, however, it was very much Tom Elliston’s night. His speech The Making of a Family, described by Toastmaster Elaine Watt as ‘hugely personal and very moving’ was an account of the (eventually successful) – endeavours of his wife and himself over many years and traumas to have a child of their own. Not only was it voted Best Speech, but it provided the material for Geoff Richardson’s thoughtful and sympathetic appraisal which was n turn voted Best Evaluation.

The other two prepared speeches were both excellent, but were perhaps unlucky to have come up against Tom’s memorable address. Angela Davison, a more experienced home-maker, gave an entertaining account of ‘My Life In DIY’ which must have awoken many memories (some painful!) in her audience. Finally, one of the youngest members Daisy Davies in a charming first ‘icebreaker’ speech, spoke amusingly of how she had successfully overcome the problems of being dyslexic through her schooldays and since.
Next meeting will take place at the usual venue, the Great Malvern Hotel at7.30pm on Tuesday March 26th.
Club Meeting Tuesday 12th February 2019 - Colin Jackson
Meeting 23rd January

Sarah McCarten-Williams | Roger Granville | Isaac Baker | Stuart Watt


Malvern Speakers       January 23rd  2018    Club Journalist: Colin Jackson

A veteran, a novice and a recently joined member (who doubles as husband to a club past president!) between them collected the honours at last week’s meeting, which also welcomed a record number of guests.

Stalwart founder member Roger Granville had some surprising information in the evening’s exceptionally well researched Best Speech, entitled It’s All A Matter Of Time. For instance, that the first clock we all take for granted to measure time was first recorded as late as 1309 AD, And that at one time people would carry personal sundials. And how it was the railways that led to the standardisation of time measurement and ultimately to today’s universal GMT.

There could hardly have been a greater contrast with Sarah McCarten-Williams’ hilarious account of the life and times of her cat called John, which provided lots of laughs for the audience and the subject for a poised and confident evaluation by the club’s youngest member, 18 year-old Isaac Baker.

The third speech was an explanation by past president Elaine Watt of the role of Mentor – an important part of the Toastmasters’ philosophy of members helping each other to improve their public speaking and leadership skills.

Earlier Elaine’s husband Stuart Watt – who only recently became a member of the club – had won a Burns-themed kilt/sporran/haggis/bagpipe-laden session devised by Angela Davies which set the tone for a lively set of impromptu Table Topics.

Next meeting will be at the usual venue, the Great Malvern Hotel, on Tuesday February 12th at 7.30pm, when we hope still more guests may join us (no charge) and home-made cake.
Meeting 8th January

Andrew Graham | Jackie Baker | Stuart Watt

Report on Malvern Speakers Club Meeting 8th January 2019

Although we were not sure how many would be coming to our first meeting of 2019, as several of our regular members were either unwell or enjoying an extended New Year holiday, but the meeting proved to be a great success.  We were delighted to welcome no less than eight guests – probably a record for the club!  This included a group of four ladies from Hereford who were keen to pick up some tips for public speaking and to see how the club ran.  Although they may not become regular members, they might be starting a Hereford Club! 

The meeting got off to a good start with an Educational Bite from the Presidents on the value of including questions in a speech, and how to do so to good effect.  Then our Table Topics Master, Ben Colyer, brought on an inspiring group of impromptu speakers telling us about their reflections on 2018 and their resolutions for 2019.  We learned that Manda Graham had decided to “do something” rather than just talk about stuff, and Stuart Watt had decided to “be interesting”.  He finished his speech with a rendering of Happy Birthday as a tribute to David Bowie, sung in a stunning Bowiesque style.  Although that had little to do with his topic, it was probably what won him the Best Table Topic Award!

Prepared speeches were, as usual, of a very high standard.  Jackie Baker enthralled us on the subject of dog psychology under the title Think Dog, in which we learned, among other things, that although a labrador might be motivated by food, a German shepherd dog is much more interested in a bit of fuss and tlc!  Then Graham Sterry scared us with hilarious stories of two occasions when he forgot to apply the handbrake on his car.  And finally, Jane Anson impressed us with her knowledge of the significance on colours.  Did you know that blue is the most popular colour in national flags – and that Cadburys are so proud of their purple logo that they tried to patent the colour? Choosing a Best Speaker was certainly not easy, but the award went to Jackie and was certainly well deserved.

Everything was evaluated in our normal encouraging and constructive manner and we benefitted from having Kate, a visitor from the Gloucester club, to serve as a very competent Table Topics Evaluator.  But the start Evaluator of the evening was Andrew Graham, who won the award.  The whole event was very ably steered by Roger Granville, our Toastmaster for the evening, and everyone agreed that a high standard had been set for the year ahead!


Geoff Richardson

Journalist in Residence


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