As a young mum with 5 children and a husband away at sea half the time I was busy but often felt lonely. I had come from Australia so had no family here but had joined things like our church Young Wives’ group, the kindergarten and school parents’ committees and the local ladies’ tennis club.
In those days the local newspaper ran weekly club and committee reports and one night I read about an International Toastmistress Club in Richmond. I was intrigued. They learnt about the procedure of running a meeting, they had a speaking program where members presented assignments and they also had impromptu speaking sessions. I could learn so much but I didn’t have the courage to just arrive at a meeting!
Things were meant to be because I soon met someone who knew someone and I was invited to attend a meeting. That was in 1979 (last century!) and I have been a member ever since.
I have never forgotten that first meeting; they were a friendly well-organized group with an interesting program. The unforgettable part came in a session called Table Topics which was meant to help build confidence in Impromptu Speaking. That night Table Topics was based around a huge crossword someone had drawn on the board and when you answered a clue you had to then speak for 1-2 minutes about that word. I was invited to participate and my word was SNOW. Would you believe, I couldn’t think of ANYTHING to say about snow?? They were all waiting with bated breath. Nil.
So eventually I joined ITC and have enjoyed their many activities. In those days Council XI had several clubs and quarterly meetings or weekends at Lake Rotoiti which showed me a whole new world. One year 6 of us went to the International Convention in Auckland.
Then my younger sister showed interest so I began visiting a Geelong club in Victoria on trips home and she joined them and there began an interesting connection for us all (the Bellarine Trophy). She gained so much strength from ITC she became Matron of a Nursing Home and has recently retired and thanked ITC for its part. On one trip home I was their guest speaker at a Council meeting in Melbourne.
Meeting twice a month gives us different challenges and a sense of purpose as well as the friendship we share. I am not ready to retire.