Report by: Kevin Walsh.

It was the evening of Tuesday, January 28th and we were all getting ready to head off to the second meeting this year of Fermoy Toastmasters in that same keen and warm spirit of looking forward to seeing so many dear friends and all of the nice and most pleasant people who make up the membership of our very happy club. However a glance out the window revealed a dark cloud looming in the west. That cloud was laden with snow and soon reports began to circulate of persons having some difficulty getting home from work. The call soon was made: in the overriding and paramount interest of the safety of our members and friends the decision was taken to cancel that evening’s meeting. A decision not taken lightly but with a heavy heart and yet with an acceptance and mature understanding that this was the right and responsible thing to do.  Ever and always safety must come first.

      For there is always another evening as the dark clouds soon blow away on the wind and the sunlight of renewed enjoyment and good cheer quickly comes out to shine again on all our lives. It is in that indomitable spirit of ever looking forward, drawing on the richness of the past to forge the achievements of the present and to go forward to build and welcome the promise of the future, that our club ever advances on its journey of discovery and fulfilment, of personal growth and the attainment of ever happier and better lives. Setbacks do not define us: instead we learn from them and utilise them with an ever greater determination to tap all of the resources of talent and originality, of mutual goodwill and the warmth of friendship to make our meetings ever better and more rewarding and delightfully memorable for all.

     To arrive at the meeting room of Fermoy Toastmasters is always such a great pleasure. It is filled with powerful symbols that tell a great story of who we are and what we do. One of the most prominent features is the golden club banner that is always hung in a prominent position bearing the name of the club, its number and the award ribbons it has received from World Headquarters in the United States over the years. That banner affirms the almost fifty years that our club has held such a special place in the cultural and recreational life of this community. Countless meetings across all of that time have threaded the long lines of continuity and tradition from the original vision and imagination of our two revered and fondly remembered founders, the late Niall Brunicardi and Padraig O’Braoin whose inspiration drives us ever forward.

           Every club meeting in all of that time has taken place in the presence of the banner.  For it symbolises not just the richness of a long and very proud record of achievement and success in Fermoy and throughout its wide hinterland, but also that we are not just a group confined to a narrow local stage but part of a vast worldwide organisation numbering thousands of clubs and many tens of thousands of members spread right throughout the world. We are a universal organisation of women and men and attracting a wide and varied membership from all walks of life.

     Many clubs subscribe to a much more intense and high-powered form of corporate culture. That is fine for them and we wish them well in it. But what we want to get away from life’s pressures and have a relaxed and pleasant time. Instead as a club we find that we progress and achieve so much more by a much quieter and relaxed style and gentler approach that puts the individual and their needs first. We open our meetings to all in a spirit of cordial welcome and convivial good feeling, with an emphasis on everyone going forward gladly and pleasurably at their own pace and having lots of fun along the way. Indeed we go much further on the journey of growth and renewal with mutual kindness and support.

    Each is an individual making their own special, invaluable and unique contribution to every meeting. Yet we are also an informal and genial team effort doing everything we can to ensure that everyone has a most enjoyable and rewarding time with us and by being part of us on our shared and beautiful journey to every further horizons of success.  There is never a limit to what can be achieved in Toastmasters. It asks a modest effort as does everything that is truly good and worthwhile. Because in each of us giving and doing of our very best our meetings are all the more sparkling, refreshing and entertaining with everyone going away two hours later feeling glad that they came and took part and shared in the pleasure and recreation with their fellow members who are also very best friends. By each trying to do our very best we all receive the very best.

    Another gentle but very powerful symbol is the lectern. It is a neat, spare and quietly elegant object that represents a great focal point in the room proclaiming our celebration of the beauty and grace of the spoken word.   This is where speakers choose to stand if they wish to give their brief prepared presentations facing the audience and the system of lights green, amber and red operated by the timekeeper that mark the five, six and final seven minute limits of every speech that makes for brevity and clarity, for getting to the essential core of what you want to say in a light and economical style.  These limits are not there to hinder our powers of self-expression but to enhance them.

     Perhaps you want to introduce yourself as a new member in your maiden or Icebreaker speech; you want to air your views on some issue that is close to your heart; to recall a story that made an impression on you or share an insightful personal experience. That choice is up to each person to make for themselves. The club and the leadership and the communication manuals provide the essential framework that enables us to further build and expand our powers of expression and the skills of voice projection, hand gesture and eye contact and the importance of carrying the audience with you on a journey of great and exciting discovery. On the top table can also be seen the gavel and sounding block that is struck to call the meeting to order and reconvene after the convivial tea break, marking out this time as being so special and important, apart from everyday life to be sure but also filled with the spirit and depth of life at its very best.

         I have spoken of symbols. But the one true presence that marks each and every meeting are the wonderful people there so full of warmth, kindness, charm, friendship and goodwill. The kind of lovely people that are such a joy and pleasure to be with and who in their goodness and warmth of heart invite you to come and take part and join in the comfort, enjoyment and conviviality of these very special and most rewarding meetings. As we do again this coming Tuesday next, February 12th, at 8.15 pm in the Fermoy Youth Centre. For further information, please contact Mary Whelan at 087 7971006 or Kevin Walsh at 087 1228684 or log on to our mobile-friendly website toastmastersfermoy.com.