By Ted Corcoran DTM, Past International President
Growth in the ’80s, as I said, while slow but steady, was gradually creeping closer to what was then seen as the magical figure of 50 clubs. Educational completions, though, were a problem and failure to meet our targets in these areas resulted in the District frequently failing to achieve Distinguished District status. Notable exceptions to this were in 1984/85, when Select Distinguished status (top 12) was achieved under the leadership of David Lindsey (Aylesbury and Thame). This was the first success at International level for the now 13-year-old district. David, a member since 1974, also possesses the distinct honour of achieving the first DTM, awarded in D71, to a member. This is what David wrote in the September/October 1985 edition of “The Spokesman”, the British and Irish Toastmasters District 71 Bulletin.
District 71 has achieved the award of Select Distinguished District for its progress during the year. Santa Ana sets certain targets for each District at the beginning of the Toastmasters Year. We were given a goal of 27 CTMs (we made 91!), 6 ATMs (we made it!), 3 new clubs (we got 4) and about 100 new members (we got over 230!). In addition, two Youth Leadership Courses and two Success/Leadership seminars were given. The award has never been won by District 71. In January 1985 the District was 45th in the World rankings (out of 75 Districts), and by the end of June we had risen to 11th which is a terrific achievement brought about by sheer hard work on the part of everyone in the British and Irish District – Members, Club Officers, Area and District Executives.”
(Note: CTM then = CC now, Santa Ana = WHQ)
“When you consider the challenges of distance between Britain and Ireland, and between both countries and WHQ and the costs of phone calls and postage, this was an admirable achievement. For example, surface mail from the U.S. took at least three months to reach the district. The postage, by airmail, of a simple educational module cost about $40 while it cost £2.77 sterling to post a new member kit from Britain, where they were stored, to Ireland. Remember this was a very small district of about 35 clubs and less than 1000 members.
Equally meritorious – because they faced the same challenges – were the achievements of Harry Knox (DLS), in 1987/88, and Joe Prendergast (Clonmel), in 1989/90, in achieving Distinguished District status. One can’t omit, either, the achievements of the other DGs during this decade who kept the show on the road in difficult circumstances. These were, Andrew Ducker (Oxford) 1979/80, Mike Murdock (Shillelagh) 1980/81, Gerald Keen (Grosvenor Sq), 1981/82, George GallagherDaggitt (Oxford), 1982/83, Mary O’Connor (Waterford), 1983/84, who served as the first DG from Ireland after four years of service from the afore mentioned, Mary Dwan (Dun Laoghaire) 1985/86, Norman Rhodes (Maidenhead) 1986/87, who received the International President’s Citation in August, 1989, awarded for outstanding contributions to TI, and John Earnshaw (Oxford), 1988/89.