Contests in the’80s
By Ted Corcoran DTM Past International President
Contests at this stage of district history were quite complicated! The only contest organised in the early ’80s was the International Speech contest – the others were introduced later. There were just 2 Areas each in England and Ireland. The first and second place winners of the English Areas competed in the first instance for the English title, while in Ireland the Area first and second place winners competed for the Irish title. Then, later, all eight of them competed for the D71 title! As it happened in 1981, Harry Knox (District Governor 1987/88) won his Area final, was beaten in the Irish final by his Area runner up, and then beat this rival again in the District final!! All very exciting, but hard to follow! The speech contest for overseas districts at the International Convention was held for the first time the same year in Phoenix, Arizona, where Harry (DSL Communicators) represented D71 and was placed a creditable 2nd in the overseas contest. Ray Fulham, (Dublin 2601), now a Circuit Court judge, went one better in 1983, winning the overseas contest and so, for the first time, our fledging district was represented in the world final. But the outstanding achievement of these days was Marie Pyne of the Ennis club in Ireland being crowned the World Champion of Public Speaking in 1985 in Columbus, Ohio, with a speech entitled, “Age is a Hang up on Numbers”. In winning, she became only the second overseas winner and only the second woman to do so till then. She was presented with her award by the first woman International President, Helen Blanchard, a member of a club in Southern California. A district humorous speech contest was held for the first time at the 1986 district conference in Limerick – prior to this there were separate Irish and English champions. There were just two contestants, one from Ireland and one from England and Celia Carlisle (Blarney), the Irish representative, was finally declared the winner. In 1987, the first District 71 Autumn Conference was hosted by the Blarney club in Cork and featured a District Humorous Speech Contest final, won by David Lindsey (Aylesbury and Thame), with, for the first time, representatives from each of the nine Areas in England and Ireland. A District Evaluation Contest was first held as part of the 1988 conference in Stowe, when the winner was Rosarie Nolan (Oxford).