Our History

The History of CWC Toastmasters

Christchurch Women’s Club Toastmasters began when Sheila Hailstone (DTM and former Area Governor) had a vision to develop a Women’s Toastmaster club that would cater to women of all nationalities, providing support and friendship for women new to Christchurch as well as empowering women to achieve their full

Founder Sheila Hailstone (right) with Pansy Wong, the former Minister of Women’s Affairs.

potential through developing communication and leadership skills. Thus ‘supporting woman to succeed’ became the vision for the new club.

As an executive member of the Canterbury Women’s Club, Sheila approached the management committee who were highly supportive of the concept. Therefore, the new toastmaster club became a charter club under the umbrella of the Canterbury Women’s Club.

Through the Canterbury Women’s Club Sheila was introduced to another like minded woman, Heather Naomi. With Sheila’s experience and Heather’s interest in gaining her DTM it seemed sensible to join forces. Two other highly experienced Toastmasters, Ellie Young(DTM) and Nyree Burt(DTM) became part of the leadership team for the yet to be chartered CWC toastmasters.

Sheila Hailstone, past president of CWC and others

Sheila Hailstone (centre) with past President, sponsors, mentors and charter members of CWC Toastmasters.

The first meeting was held in 2008 with the club finally chartering in 2009.

Part of the vision of supporting women was to be able to provide scholarships for women that could not afford the Toastmaster fees and provide educational material to allow them to complete the competent communication and the competent leadership awards. Sheila and Ellie trained staff at the BNZ, completing three very successful ‘Speech Craft’ courses for the BNZ managers. The funding was donated to the CWC Toastmasters and has formed the basis of a much valued scholarship fund, still being used today to support women to succeed‘.

When the earthquake struck in February 2011, CWC Toastmasters was growing in strength. The February earthquake changed everything.

CWCT lost the meeting rooms at Community House and all the equipment, educational material and banners. However our greatest loss was our new member Janet Meller, sadly killed in the collapse of the CTV building. Other members lost their homes or their work place and many left Christchurch or moved to other areas. The club was re-established as the Christchurch Women’s Club Toastmasters, meeting at St Paul’s Church in Papanui, in a lovely, safe, one-story building. CWC Toastmasters began its life again; this time supported by experienced toastmaster Raewyn Dawson(DTM).

Today CWC Toastmasters   continues to grow in members, with Sheila still actively involved in the club and staying true to the vision of supporting women (from everywhere) to succeed‘.

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