Meeting report

28 November 2016

John Hicks

To those of us who logged into EasySpeak beforehand, Toastmaster Lisa Todd appeared to have organised a well planned evening. However, our meeting bore no resemblance to that set out in the agenda. With minimal fuss, Lisa and S@A, David Preston managed to squeeze in Ryan Chappell as a last-minute third speaker and, with another good attendance, (eighteen) there was no shortage of volunteers to introduce and evaluate his speech.

Ryan then launched into "How I add value to people's lives" - a speech bristling with technology. We were photographed from the lectern and displayed on screen. Thank goodness we weren't edited. Ryan's love of his job and enthusiasm for computer programmes shone through; though I wonder about his familiarity with EasySpeak - unless he really is going to give another talk next week.

I have greatly enjoyed the contributions from our newer members recently and Nicola Powell's Ice Breaker, "The Perfect Career", proved no exception. Nicola described the marathon six-and-a-half years tertiary training she has completed - first studying as a vet nurse, then psychologist, musician - before finally deciding to "dig her heels in and complete her goals" and attaining a Business Studies degree. Would you have guessed that she is presently working on a dairy farm? For Nicola it is all about the journey: not the destination. I admit to some trepidation about her claim that vet students have big egos, knowing that one member of our audience had once been one, but he (he knows who he is) seemed to endure this slander without demur. Perhaps there is some truth in it, though I couldn't possibly comment. 

Ali Scott then gave a beautiful tribute to her Downs Syndrome son Oskar and the therapists at the Feuerstein Institute which they attended in Jerusalem. Professor Feuerstein works on the principle that IQ is not fixed from birth, but flexible. She described Oskar's cognitive progress with a mother's passion: from the despairing stage he had reached where he had "learned a thousand ways to say 'I can't'", to: "Now I can hear what teachers are saying to me" and "I like learning".

Helen Peate was to have been TTM but submitted an apology and phoned me suggesting I volunteer to replace her. I was tricked into accepting when she kindly(?) offered me her topics. I picked them up en route to the meeting. Lacking a flexible IQ, it took me almost half-an-hour to battle my way into her intricate mail box. However, Helen's single word topics worked well. What a gem we had from Emma Garlick with her eager response to "confessions". She jumped at the chance to confess to a grievous sin involving damage to her parents' floor that they don't yet know about (but we do). This was catharsis "big time". I hope to hear many more of her confessions in future (and anyone else's, for that matter). New member, Simon Mortimer, survived "surviving" with aplomb and guest/potential new member, Ella, was hilarious with her antisocial take on "mates". Another guest, Jed, bravely took up the challenge of "starts".

After some excellent evaluations from Carolyn Skerret, Michael Shand and Stephen East, President Adrienne Malis gave us her useful GE and then nicely rounded off the meeting by presenting TM Lisa with her Bronze Advanced Communicator Award. Well done Lisa!

(For the record, Lloyd Bathurst finally convinced me that he really is a lousy Timer; but I have come to the conclusion that they are the best type. Who but the worst pedant would wish to account for their life in mere seconds?)