On Tuesday, May 13th, at their AGM in the Grand Hotel, the members of the Fermoy Toastmasters Club reached the conclusion of yet another great and memorable season. It is always an occasion of mixed sentiments and emotions: gratitude and pleasure of the enjoyment and successes of these past months, a tinge of sadness saying adios for a while to dear friends and colleagues while looking forward to the promise of summer and beyond that the joyful reunion and new beginning that beckons in the early autumn when we will reassemble with fresh ideas and renewed inspiration for another sparkling season of wonderful speaking, great listening and personal enhancement with zestful enthusiasm and mutual good fellowship.
Our President, Jerry Hennessy, called the meeting to order for the final time for his current term. His leadership has been truly outstanding, setting a relaxed and genial keynote for all our meetings by being unfailingly pleasant, helpful and encouraging to everyone and thereby bringing out the very best in us all. Jerry has worn the chain of office with pride, pleasure and distinction for the past twelve months winning a special place in our affections. He thanked all the members for their support throughout the year and offered very special praise to our Educational Vice President (EVP), Mary Whelan, for all of her dedication and commitment, her kindness, warmth and grace that made participation in all the varied tasks that go to make up a good meeting such a very great pleasure. We now look forward to Mary leading our club into another season and another year as our incoming President.
Our Toastmaster of the evening, John Quirke, then assumed control of proceedings with all of his vast experience, wry humour and affable style that always makes for a very congenial and outstanding occasion. The first half of the proceedings were notably invigorated with a very bracing topics session from Eddie O’Sullivan who took us on an interesting and rewarding journey from what you might talk about if you ever sat down to tea with Queen Elizabeth, to the proposed partial restoration of the old local Mallow-Waterford railway line as nature walk, from medical cards to the over 70s to the winning of the Eurovision Song Contest by the bearded lady from Austria. Eddie had given much careful thought to his selection of topics which evoked a rich and varied response that soon built up a brilliant and uplifting atmosphere. A good lively topics session makes for a most entertaining meeting because it gets everyone thinking swiftly and eagerly responding, releasing that creative latent in everyone.
While it may have been our final meeting of the current season, there was no sense of winding down. On the contrary we struck a note of eagerly ahead on the never ending journey to ever greater achievement. And this optimistic spirit could not have been celebrated and affirmed in any better or more emphatic way than that on this special evening the club was honoured and delighted to hear two Icebreaker speeches where new members presented a brief and succinct introduction of themselves.
Our first speaker was Margaret Goggin who told us of her happy upbringing in North Cork, her wide-ranging travels to many parts of the world that impressed her most powerfully with the richness of what we have at home, her pursuit of a career in accountancy and her coming to Fermoy Toastmasters seeking to learn and to enjoy as we in turn will be illuminated and enriched by her participation and contribution in the coming years in what is above all a circle of friends dedicated to enjoyment and fun.
Margaret was followed to the lectern by Patrick Kavanagh who touched on a few expansive themes of a very engaging life on the long and arduous journey that has taken him and his wife not alone across immense distances of land and sea but also through assessment and red tape to the goal of adoption of a beautiful little Mexican girl to whom they have given a home of comfort and great love. Patrick also elucidated something of his professional role as a change management strategist to the commercial sector and also spoke of his athletic prowess as an Iron Man competitor mastering the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running.
Our two new members and friends had both made very impressive debut performances and were made most warmly welcome to the club by their respective evaluators, Kevin Walsh and John Sherlock, who wished them all the very best in their going forth into the Promised Land of personal growth and accomplishment in the arts of thought and expression with such very cordial and lovely people.
Then it was time for our Tea Break, something which we don’t talk enough about, for it is an interlude of relaxation and chat, of good company and warm humour that fills everyone with a bright inner glow of peace and contentment. Then we had our business section of the meeting with the outgoing officers rendering account of their stewardship and all matters were dealt with expeditiously and clarity. We then moved to the election of our committee for next season, to assume office on July 1st:- Mary Whelan, President; John Sherlock, EVP; Johanna Hegarty, Treasurer; Fanahan Colbert, Membership Vice-President; Eilish Ni Bhriain, Secretary; Kevin Walsh, PRO; Frank O’Driscoll, Sgt-at-Arms.
We also received a surprise visit from Maire Corbett of Mitchelstown Toastmasters, fresh from the District 71 Speech Contest finals held in Dun Laoghaire, the last such event covering these islands in their entirety as from now on while District 71 will continue to span all of Ireland as well as Scotland, the north of England and north Wales, the newly formed District 91 now emerges encompassing the south of England and south Wales. To mark this momentous occasion, the club was awarded a special Medal of Honour to recognise its position after 45 years as one of the longest established in the country which was accepted with great rejoicing and heartfelt appreciation on behalf of us all by our President, Jerry Hennessy.
Then in a very touching gesture, Maire also brought another District Award for John Quirke to mark his three and a half decades of uninterrupted membership of Fermoy Toastmasters. If you want to know why our club has lasted all these years, then all you have to do is just look at the loyalty, the dedication and the spirit of John, coming to countless meetings in all weathers, standing up to make his speeches and filling the room with his wisdom and profound insight, his irrepressible sense of fun and a most generous heart where everyone is his special friend. We congratulate him on this richly merited recognition and wish him many more years of health and happiness and continued success as such an exceptional, special and very much loved Toastmaster.
And now the club turns to its annual break as a time of refreshment and renewal, gratified by a wonderful past season and looking forward to brilliant new vistas when we meet again in September as we wish all our members and supporters a happy, safe and enjoyable summer. We are always however ever so delighted to share the stimulating and life-enhancing message of Toastmasters in summer as at any time of the year. For further information, please contact Fanahan Colbert at 086 8239007 or Kevin Walsh at 058 60100 or log on totoastmastersfermoy.com or find us on Twitter @ FermoyT.