Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pondering on the past year: some perspectives

Last night I attended another Algoa Toastmasters Induction dinner.

Many things were the same as last year: the torrential downpour that greeted us on the way to the dinner; the welcome glasses of sherry at the door; the genteel ambiance of the PE Women’s Club and, of course, the friendly faces of fellow Algoa Toastmasters members.  This is one event in the year which some of our long-suffering partners do attend and it was lovely to see people I had last seen a year before.

An Induction Dinner is a time for reflecting on the year that has past. I found myself looking at the very first blog I had written one year ago.  There I read that Algoa was officially the largest club in District 74.  I don’t know if this is still the case, but I do know that our numbers have continued to grow and that we still regularly entertain visitors who go on to become members. Clearly, we must be doing something right!
The evening of fine food and entertaining conversation had a number of highlights.  Firstly, there were the annual awards made by outgoing president, Denise Pudney, to whom we pay tribute for her gentle strength in leadership this past year.

Congratulations to those who were acknowledged for their exceptional contributions or achievements in various areas:

  • Most Improved Speaker – Angie Kivido
  • Most Improved Evaluator – Jessamy Kromhout
  • Most Enthusiastic Toastmaster – Mike Brosnahan
  • Toastmaster of the Year – Marianah Lourens
  • Community Service – Ricky Woods
Certificates for adding exceptional value to the life of our club were awarded by Glenis Whitehead to Denise Pudney and Marlene Vosloo

Then it was time for our Division Governor, Glenis Whitehead, to discharge the outgoing Executive of their duties and to install the new Executive for 2013-2014. Alison Immelman, the new president, reminded members in a heartfelt message to Grow, Learn and Teach as the ‘family’ that is Algoa Toastmasters works towards its separate and combined goals.


But we certainly did leave the best for last.  Our guest speaker is a grande dame of education in the Eastern Cape, retired school principal of Riebeek Girls’ High, Natalie Stear. In a speech filled with compassion for those who have not experienced the benefits of a privileged education, she related her experiences while marking the current English Olympiad, In Camera. Injected with moments of humour, her speech brought home very clearly the plight of so many of our young people who look with fear at a future filled with little hope unless those in power are held accountable for their actions.

I said at the outset that many things were the same as last year, but in many ways nothing was. I know that I speak for all who attended when I say that we were warmed and encouraged by the events of the evening to continue to strive for the attainment of our goals.

On a lighter note – I was thrilled to hear the following poem by Marlene Vosloo as the introduction to her role as grammarian at our last club meeting.

As grammarian this evening, suffice it to say

That I will present the word of the day.
Use it all night as much as you can.
Don’t look so shocked, Toastmasters; make a plan!
When speaking tonight, watch your ps and qs
And remember the plural of you is not yous!
Split infinitives, correct tenses and rules of concord
I’ll listen for these - hope I won’t get too bored
Use picturesque speech; let your grammar go to town
Paint your language bright red, not boring shades of brown!
As the end of the evening finally draws near
I’ll report back to the GE… but do not fear.
My report in this case will be short and sweet
For hearing Toastmasters in action is always a treat!

As a teacher of English and grammarian by habit, I loved it!  Any other offers?

Until next time

Ricky Woods


  1. Thanks for the blog Ricky. As I (unfortunately) frequently miss meetings the blog provides an easy way to keep up at least sort of up-to-date with the club.

  2. Thanks,Reinhardt. I would love to see some conversation happening around the topics raised. It could be useful to get a discussion going.