On Tuesday 30th August, St James the Less Church buzzed with anticipation as toastmasters and guests took their seats. Eleanor Gelston filled in for Terry as President and kicked off the meeting by reminiscing about her own Toastmasters journey and how she had faced her fear of speaking in public. She ended on a powerful notes “all you have to do is do it” before handing over to the Toastmasters of the evening, Prateek.
Prateek immediately filled the room with energy and enthusiasm. He encouraged both sides of the room to cheer and clap as loudly as possible as he first introduced the functionaries and then the speakers.
Christophe gave the first speech of the night. Speaking about the US Presidential Elections and why his support goes to Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. He used powerful language to describe why Clinton would drive the USA to the ground as opposed to Trump who will make the country great again. He analysed the candidates’ solutions to three current issues: international trade, Russia and the terrorist organisation ISIS. He concluded that Trump has brought these issues to the forefront and is committed to solving them, while Clinton has no real solutions.
The second speaker was Eleanor Bucher who took us on a journey through Iceland. She guided the audience through the country by their senses, describing the sensation of standing on tectonic plates, the sound of horses’ hooves, the smell of “lip-curling” sulphur, the taste of salty fish and finally the magnificent sight of the honeycomb harbour building in Reykjavik.
Eleanor Handslip spoke next about “another Eleanor” (Eleanors took centre stage at this meeting!) and told us about the difficult life of Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the USA. She described Eleanor Roosevelt’s sad childhood as an orphan and her marriage to Franklin D.Roosevelt which was complicated by his interfering mother and his affair with his secretary. She then related how Eleanor Roosevelt overcame these challenges and became a role model for ambitious women as well as an advocate for human rights.
The final speech was by Thomas who shared a powerful and persuasive message: everyone must share in globalisation and wealth. He told us that he put money behind Brexit and described the vote to leave the EU as a “vote against globalisation”. He then outlined the history behind globalisation and international trade, taking us back to the Industrial Revolution. He highlighted the link between globalisation and xenophobia and the rise of nationalism.
In the second half of the meeting we listened to some entertaining and insightful table topics. Isabelle who chose “looking back and moving forward” as the theme asked speakers to talk about memories and future plans. Questions ranged from “would you take part in a mission to Mars” to “if you could invite a historical figure to dinner, who would you choose?”
It was a great meeting which showcased the talent of London Victorians – come along to the next meeting on Tuesday 6th September at 6.45pm!