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Raise A Toast!

Story: Brooke Jacobson | Photo: Bruce Redman
Published On : Mar 20, 2024
Raise A Toast!
Sandgate Toastmasters is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, while worldwide the organisation is commemorating its centenary. 

Local member John Topping said the Sandgate branch started in May 1974, with citizens from the 4017 business community joining up.

“Toastmasters started in the United States, and initially it was just men, but women were finally allowed to join in 1973,” John said.

“For a lot of people, public speaking is their number one fear, so they join because they might have an event coming up – like a business presentation or a speech at a wedding – and they want to know how they can best approach it.”

John added Toastmasters was a supportive environment.

“Every meeting has a different theme, and new members are encouraged to start small – everyone gets a chance to speak,” he said.

“I found it very welcoming. No one sits in a corner. Everyone gets a mentor.

“Your first speech is called an ‘ice breaker’ and that can be on any topic you like. Everyone is evaluated, but in a positive way.”

Marlene Hatton is one of the original members of the Sandgate branch.

“Before women were officially allowed to join, a lot of women just joined up anyway using men’s names – and then they had to re-join after women were allowed in,” she said.

“I joined because it sounded like fun, and we do have fun. We do learn a lot from what our members talk about at each meeting, and it’s a valuable skill to have.”

John said Toastmasters was for anyone aged over 18 and encouraged young people to sign up.

“It’s great for advancing your career, and Toastmasters is gaining a lot of growth in Asia, because people there see the benefit of being able to speak in English,” he said.

“Locally, we’re a strong club.

“There’s a certain structure that goes with Toastmasters, and Sandgate has been what’s known as President’s Distinguished for the past four years and Select Distinguished for the past 10 years.”

Sandgate Toastmasters meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7pm at the RSL Sub-Branch Hall, 12 Burnett Place, Sandgate.

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