Feb ’19 News from guest Division F (North West Ireland)

Guest Division F

By Division F Director Pat Croke DTM

Division F is geographically quite large with the furthest apart clubs Galway and Mid-Ulster 264 kilometres (160 Miles) from one another which is also a four-hour drive. The division has 20 clubs several of which are rural and are aligned to five Areas. Divisional contests can be challenging due to the distances involved. Understandably as judges must not be from a competing club it can be difficult to persuade somebody to drive four hours to the contest, judge the contest and then spend 4 hours driving home again particularly in the winter. However, all the clubs are in gorgeous locations with wildly different scenery and interesting history so staying overnight is not a hardship. This year we had the Division F Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests in our newest club Loughrea, County Galway in Area 12. The International Speech and Evaluation contests will take place in Ballybofey, County Donegal in Area 04 on Saturday April the 13th.

  1. Area 04 led by Area Director Ken McKenzie from the Foyle Speakers Club consists of four clubs: Talk on the Wilde Side, Talk Club, Foyle Speakers and Mid Ulster.
  2. Area 9 led by Area Director Thérèse Kinahan from the Athlone Club consists of five clubs: Athlone, Cavan, Longford, Mullingar and Tullamore.
  3. Area 12 led by Area Director Pat Coakley from the Galway Club consists of four clubs: Corrib, Galway, Loughrea and Tuam.
  4. Area 27 led by Area Director Paul Gannon from the Westport Club consists of three clubs Ballina, Castlebar and Westport.
  5. Area 38 led by Kevin McGill from the Carrick-on-Shannon Club consists of four clubs: Carrick-on-Shannon, Erne Speakers, Sligo and Sligo Public Speakers.

At the start of this year we had a realignment of clubs. The Loughrea Club chartered which meant that there were seven clubs in Area 12. It was decided to split Area 12 keeping the four Galway clubs in Area 12 and creating a new Area 27 for the three Mayo clubs. The old Area 12 was huge, and the new alignment is making Area Director visits and Area Competitions much easier.

This year is the first full year of Pathways and the Division’s main goal is to have at least one level 1 in each club and that person be an officer in next year in their club and be a pathways champion for their club. There is a clear co-correlation between the clubs that have embraced pathways in the division and club growth or decline. This makes sense since all new members joining after July have had to use Pathways as their educational program. Pathways appears complex when viewed in its totality. However, level one is very well thought out and easy to explain to new members. When they have completed level one they will have learnt what their existing skills are from doing an Icebreaker; learnt how to receive feedback and give a speech evaluation; learnt how to conduct research on a topic and use that to create a new speech. This is easier to explain than the old Competent Communicator and Leader programs. This is going to take a while to embed. The key is simplicity. Nobody in the past at their first meeting was told what exactly was involved in getting to a DTM and all the choices they would have to make along the way, given that at that stage they wouldn’t have known what a DTM was or why it was valued.

From Paul Gannon Area Director Area 27

Area 27 is the smallest area in the division with three clubs. Westport was chartered in 2003, Ballina was next and chartered in 2005, with our newest club, Castlebar, chartering in 2017. Toastmasters was not new to Castlebar as there was a club in Castlebar back in the 1980s and so it was wonderful to see some of the members in attendance from the original club on charter night.

For me as a local member it was a privilege to watch Toastmasters members from clubs in Galway, Ballina and Westport travel to Castlebar of their own volition, to demonstrate how a typical Toastmasters meeting is run. This was the spirit of Toastmasters in action, and Castlebar was extremely grateful to the members of the local clubs and to the Westport Club which sponsored the club and help them establish and charter.

As area director, this spirit continues to motivate me to give back as much as I have got from Toastmasters. It might be perceived as easy for me to be in regular contact with the officers in all three clubs in my area, as I have only three clubs to visit. However, the challenges faced in all three clubs are unique to them and keep me busy and engaged. It has been a privilege to serve as area director, and I have learned as much at club officer training as I have imparted.

Officers from Castlebar showing off their Banner. Donna Hyland, Tom Fahey, Alan Di Lucia, Maire Garvey, Leon Tunney-ware and Catriona Doyle.

Pat Coakley Area 12 Director

Area 12 incorporates four clubs in County Galway with 116 members and a combined 50 years club experience. This includes the Division’s most recent club, Loughrea, which chartered in the last year. As this would have entailed seven clubs in the Mayo-Galway area, this was divided into two.  Loughrea has grown to a vibrant club with membership now at a healthy twenty-eight.   Member numbers across the area cover a broad variety of ages and walks of life. Each club has its own distinctive flavour and style of meeting, but all are friendly and welcoming.

The area contest, hosted by Oranmore 10th November, showcased the skills of ten contestants in the Humorous and Table Topics contests.  It was a measure of the high standards here that the two winners, Rob Partridge and Gerry McNulty, progressed through the next level, and are to represent Division F at the District contests in May.

Loughrea Club hosted the Division contests 24th November with attendees travelling from across the midlands and north.

Area 12 did a Schools outreach with eight students at Coláiste an Chreagáin conducting the Youth Leadership Programme, led by Frances Geoghegan, assisted by Sarah Hearty and James Linnane.

Toastmaster’s highest achievement, Distinguished Toastmaster was attained by Division Director Pat Croke of the Galway Club. Three other members in the area are working to achieve the DTM award over the coming year.

In Front Left to Right Frances Geoghegan Galway, James Linnane Tuam and Sarah Hearty Galway with their students.

Thérèse Kinahan Area 9 Director

Area 9 covers four midland counties; Cavan, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath.

The oldest club in this region is Athlone. Members of this club were instrumental in starting the other clubs in the area as well as clubs in the west and north-west.

The current Area Director (AD) is from the Athlone Club and is the third consecutive AD from this club. Last year (2017-18), Athlone celebrated its 30th Anniversary, while also achieving President’s Distinguished. It’s an international club and during the past year has welcomed members from Ecuador, Brazil, Italy, India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Portugal, Australia and South Africa.

The Assistant Area Director is currently serving as a coach to the Longford Club working with a past Area Director. Longford may be small, but the coaches have helped to increase membership and the standard of meetings is excellent.

Mullingar is the second largest town in Area 9 with a club which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. This is a club with a strong core of experienced speakers and leaders. It continues to grow and to innovate. This club does PR very well, with articles in the newspapers after each meeting. Meetings are always fun.

Tullamore has not been a very large club during the past couple of years but has a steady membership. Tullamore hosted a joint meeting with Mullingar this month, as a return visit following the club’s visit to Mullingar club’s open night.

Our Northern Star is Cavan which shines so brightly and welcomes us all so warmly as they did for the January COT, with full attendance from their own club. Big thanks to Navan for all the work with Cavan which has seen this club grow and develop.

Doing the work of AD is only possible with the active support of club officers.

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