Our club meeting of Tuesday, February 4th, had regrettably to be cancelled because of very severe stormy weather. This decision was greeted with sadness but also a mature acceptance that the safety of our people is quite rightly our uppermost concern. In well over forty years, the number of times when adverse conditions have forced us to call off our meetings can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Considering that the winter months make up the greater part of our season, this is a very fine and proud record. It is with all the greater pleasure and eager anticipation that we look forward to our next gathering at the Grand Hotel, Fermoy, that will be held on Tuesday evening next, the 18th, at 8.15 pm.IMG_0206

The programme for the cancelled meeting of the 4th will form the basis of the proceedings at our next gathering on the 18th. No one will be left out or disappointed. No storm can blow out the sun or hinder the mission and goals and the great shared enjoyment that is the life of our club. Storms pass but words of beauty, thoughts fashioned in generosity of spirit, sentiments expressed with sparkling verve and drawn from the richness of the human spirit, these things tell of the enjoyment of life and cannot be quenched or stifled. And if some days we cannot go forward with flags unfurled, then we must proceed quietly, with hope and dauntless optimism, to the next meeting, facing the next challenge, coming together with friends to share our joy in what we do and the happiness of being together promoting the arts of communication and leadership.

For all of its many faults, this is still is such a beautiful and fascinating world. And there are few places where that joy of life can be better celebrated than at a Toastmasters meeting. This is because at the very core of our activities is the broadening of horizons and the attainment of personal growth through speaking, listening, understanding and enjoying everything along the way. Everyone comes initially to gain and are then surprised by how much they have to give. For all of us are engaged in building and furthering each other to ever greater heights of achievement in a spirit of mutual support help and the delight of good company. None of us can ever have too many friends.

And as friends together we enable each other to be most fully ourselves by utilising our talents and potential to the very optimum in a way that is not about deadlines or pressure, but about everyone having a good and congenial time together through the path of entertainment and humour. That way everyone can rise to and give of their very best as individuals but in a way that no individual on their own could ever do for themselves. Good companionship is one of life’s richest blessings and in Toastmasters you find it in abundance. We all rejoice in the company of those we have known in the club for a long time while broadened and stimulated by the wonderful experience of getting to know new and different people who come to us first as guests and then later as fully participating members.

Participation is what makes Toastmasters so very special and unique. This is not a lecture hall where one or two individuals hold the limelight for themselves and others just passively listen. In Toastmasters, everyone gets their turn and all have their opportunity to take part whether as set speakers, as evaluators and givers of positive feedback to the speakers or by contributing to the effervescent unscripted spontaneity of the topics session. No one is left out, every member is equally valued and cherished by all of us in this happiest of amicable circles. None are left to congeal and ossify into inactivity. Our activities are always bracing and invigorating, a vivid betterment and elevation of reality that everyone takes away with them after the meeting is over to carry over and to enhance all aspects of our lives.

Then two weeks later we gather again to pool our shared resources of creativity and energy, our insights and talents and ideas to fashion something that is so refreshing and uplifting and which brings a degree of fulfilment and satisfaction that is hard to find elsewhere. We are not actors uttering the lines of others, but merely being ourselves and speaking with a voice uniquely and truly our own. In these winter months we have all become far too familiar with the roar of passing storms. But there is no sound in all the world to compare to the beauty of the human voice and the spoken word, with the depth of meaning, the subtlety, the richness of word and ideal and sentiment that it alone can convey. For no two people ever think the same about anything or look at life in exactly the same way just as no two people will ever perform the same task in the same fashion. Everyone is different and has something to offer that no one else can.

Toastmasters are a wonderful forum to explore and to express and to celebrate this marvellous human diversity and richness that is so engaging and enjoyable, so pleasant and pleasurable, so bracing and exciting. We are open to all and embrace all possibilities of renewal and personal discovery. In speeches, topics and evaluations, someone will always give you an insight or a way of looking at some aspect of life that you had previously never considered just as each of us in our own way have something to contribute that is completely and entirely of ourselves as the people that we are. So when the storms have finally passed, it is the words spoken with conviction and hope, with goodness of feeling, breadth of imagination and clarity of thought that remain with you always bringing illumination and wisdom and strength of character with a delightful warmth and gladness of heart. The roaring gale is forgotten sooner rather than later but the gentle word of beautiful truth and depth lodges forever in the memory and brings forth the joy of inner springtime.

There is only one way to discover the joy and rewards of Toastmasters and that is to come to one of our meetings. So we look forward to welcoming as many as possible to our next gathering on the evening of Tuesday next, February 18th, at 8.15 pm in the Grand Hotel, Fermoy. For further information, please contact Fanahan Colbert at 086 8239007 or Kevin Walsh at 058 60100 or log on to