Back in action: in-person meetings resume at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club

We’re bursting with excitement as meeting in person again — at last!

Today marks our first meeting back and we can’t wait until lunchtime to resume our normal Friday meetings at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club!

Toastmasters is a big part of our lives, and meeting our club members each week, sharing a laugh, and watching each member progress in their speaking and leadership journey is truly gratifying. While meeting on Zoom was a helpful stop-gap during the Covid-19 lockdown, we are really exciting to be meeting in person again from today.

Are you a woman in Christchurch who would like to develop your public speaking skills, your confidence in team meetings and social interactions? Would you like to develop your leadership skills? All these things are possible with Toastmasters.

Come along to a meeting Friday at 12.20 and see if it feels right to you. You can attend up to 3 meetings before making a decision about joining. Membership costs about the same as a fancy coffee once a week, so most people can afford to join Toastmasters.

Any questions? Just drop us a line! See you soon!

CWC’s final online meeting this week: June 12 on Zoom

We were just getting the hang of this, and now it’s back to in-person meetings! 😀

This Friday’s meeting will be the final online meeting for Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club, as social distancing measures have relaxed under Level 1.

Last week’s meeting (5th June) had the theme “Poetry in Motion”. Chaired by Toastmaster Sheila Hailstone DTM, there were two excellent prepared speeches from our club’s two newest members, Souhila Abdelazziz and Lauren Harwood.

We enjoyed a round of impromptu speaking during the Table Topics section of the meeting, and are grateful to special guest Helen Kelly of Livingston Speakers in Toastmasters District 71 for evaluating our Table Topics speakers.

We also welcomed guests — some were first-timers, Helen Kelly is a Toastmaster from Scotland, and another was a third-time visitor who has today made the decision to join our Toastmasters club!

To join our final online meeting, please look for the Zoom link which will be emailed to members, and posted to the club Facebook page Thursday. It will also be available on the top of the agenda on the Easy-Speak website.

Double win for Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters club at District 72

It was a momentous day at the District 72 conference yesterday, as the Christchurch Women’s Club came away with two victories.

Representing her club as well as Division E, Laura Bruce triumphed in the District 72 Humourous Speech Contest, and the Christchurch Women’s Club won the Jack Duffy Memorial Rosebowl for Community Service. This marks the second consecutive year the club has won this accolade.

Congratulations to Laura and to all the members of the club for making their mark and being recognised by District 72 Toastmasters in New Zealand.

Best of luck Laura at the District final!

Best of luck to Laura Bruce ACG, ALB from Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club. Laura, who serves as the club’s Vice President of Public Relations, will be representing our Division at the New Zealand District 72 Humourous Speech Contest on Saturday 23 May, 2020.

Laura triumphed at club contest in September, then at the Area contest in December. She won again at the Division Contest in April, and now progresses to the ultimate arena, the District Contest, tomorrow.

Laura said, “Having never won the Humourous Speech contest at my club before, I am absolutely over the moon to be representing Christchurch Women’s Club at the District 72 Conference contest tomorrow!”

Three of the club’s members — Laura Bruce, Sheila Hailstone and Nicola Tiffin — were successful at Area level contests — a sweep by Christchurch Women’s Club at Area 4 — and all three went on to compete in the Division Contest in April.

“Our club’s motto is ‘supporting women to succeed’,” said Club founder President-Elect Sheila Hailstone DTM. “Laura embodies that drive for success, and we will all be there tomorrow to cheer her on!”

To cheer Laura on, you can join the conference virtually, on Zoom, via the following link:
Or you can join with meeting number 727-272-0000 and password 727272 via your Zoom account.

Area winner in spring Humourous Speech and Table Topics contests

From left, Basil Moskovis, District 71 Club Growth Director, Laura Bruce, and Humourous Speech Contest Chair Sheila Hailstone DTM.

Congratulations to new member Laura Bruce, who won the Humourous Speech Contest and the Table Topics Contest at the Area E4 contest in early December 2019.

Laura is a new member of Christchurch Women’s Club, who transferred to us from District 71 — the UK and Ireland.

Best of luck to Laura at the Division Contest in May.

Sheila trekking the Camino

My journey to the world heritage city Santiago de Compostela started in Sarria, Spain. A world-famous pilgrims route since the Middle Ages, known as the traditional route and 120 kilometres long. Although, in truth, it started much earlier and some 20,000 kilometres away in New Zealand, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had seen the film ‘ The Way’  based on this walk and decided if I could get fit and strong enough I too would walk the El Camino de Santiago, The way of St James, in Spain. So in June of this year, 5 years after my cancer diagnosis, and countless chemo sessions and operations later, here I am finally making it a reality and walking the El Camino to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research.  

As a Toastmaster for over 20 years I have learned to control my fear of speaking in front of others and take on leadership roles, but this time I decided to challenge myself by writing a blog on my story and the adventure. A technical trial for an over 60-year-old to cope with, all on a mobile phone and in Spain with limited internet. Fortunately again Toastmasters came to the rescue, and I was supported throughout by our new Area Director Tina Morrell.

I began my journey at this church, Iglesia Santa Marina de Sarria. I sat in a pew at the back,  in the cool of the thick stone walls, hiding from the heat of the day contemplating the road ahead. As I picked up my Pilgrims passport and obtained my first stamp I wondered if I could really achieve 120 kilometres.







The scallop shell is symbolic for Pilgrims. Each line represents a different Pilgrims route and at the end all meeting as one. In medieval times, once they reached their destination, the pilgrims would take a shell from the beach. As a modern pilgrim, I took a handmade pottery scallop shell from New Zealand. I had a premonition I would find the right person to give this to, once I completed the walk. The amazing thing was I met her on the first day. A fellow breast cancer survivor from Liverpool, my mothers home town. I am hoping she will make it to New Zealand in the future to see where her scallop shell was made.

Day 2 at Portomarín, the first 20 kilometres completed and Feeling ready for the next. Unfortunately, by the end of this day, I developed terrible blisters on my feet

The countryside between Portomarín and the next destination Melide. The clouds look ominous and an arctic low is about to hit the Pilgrims.






Walking over the bridge to Melide. My feet, by this time, were a mess. Blisters had developed on top of blisters and they finally burst. 

I walked to a local pharmacy and the pharmacist bandaged my feet. She told me to leave the bandages on,  never take them off until I returned home. I didn’t know how to explain in Spanish I wouldn’t be home for 3 months but I understood what she was meaning.

Here with Don Quixote, trying to smile with feet in bandages. Would my feet drive me to madness like the errant knight Don Quixote? I am putting on a brave face to the world as I walk alone. Where is my donkey? I need one now.

In the pouring rain sheltering in a small church on the outskirts of town.

Inside beautiful statues, I sit in awe, resting my feet and gaining courage for the way forward

The Pilgrims march on in the pouring rain, their coat colours reflected in the huge ponds of water.

Only 48 kilometres to go. Stopping at Boente Fountain, Fonte de Valeta

Now at O Empalme. I meet up with a group of Irish Pilgrims on route. My feet are forgotten with the fun and laughter. They say ‘ you are our new New Zealand sister.’

I arrive at Amenal and realize with all the banter I have walked too far. I have to say ‘sorry’ to the offer of hitting the bottle with my new Irish friends. Perhaps it’s just as well, I need my strength for the final few days.  Its back to Opino, but I don’t mind, the weather is getting better and the countryside lovely. My feet are improving and I now know I can do this.

Only 16 kilometres left for my journey. The end is tinged with sadness, I am happy to have completed my pilgrimage but at the same time I am sad to be leaving the most amazing adventure of my life.

The incredible World Heritage city of Santiago de Compostela .
Would I do it again?  Yes in an eye blink.

Read more on the journey on my blog

Did Someone Say Spring?

We had a fun-filled meeting this past week, with hints of Spring with our meeting themed ‘Daffodils heralding Spring’.  We were privileged to have two visitors with us, one of which was our Area director Brian Preddy. It’s not often that we have a male in our presence so it was wonderful to have Brian join us.

Sheila got our meeting kicked off the meeting as Sergeant at Arms followed by Denise our Toastmaster getting us off to a great start.

Our first speaker the lovely Priscilla, had a very topical and enlightening speech about North Korea and how Christians there are affected by the current regime. Priscilla gave us a very informative background into the situation there, ending with her wish that someday North and South Korea would unite as East and West Germany did many years previously.

Our second speaker Natasha used the opportunity to fine tune her humorous speech for the upcoming area competitions. We can’t give too much away here, but suffice to say that Natasha had us splitting our sides and will stand our club in good stead at the up-coming area competitions. The evaluation of Natasha’s was different in that all of the audience contributed commendations and recommendations for Natasha’s speech, which provided some valued insights.

Our Table Topics Master Penny Garlick, also had a great twist with her topic this week. Penny generously offered a current free ladies magazine to those willing to highlight the great benefits of the lastest editions of the NEXT magazine to the audience. Brian courageously sold us the benefits of the magazine, while staying within the bounds of ‘political correctness’ Great stuff Brian. Penny Lee also sold us on NEXT magazines benefits as did Sheila.

Our recent new member to our club Mei Staples, delivered her first timers report, with aplomb. Well done Mei and a warm welcome to the club.  With further evaluations and reports and Bette with a most helpful and comprehensive general evaluation it was back to our Toastmaster Denise who closed with some topical quotes of Spring and another successful and enjoyable meeting was had by all.

We look forward to our International Gala event on the 1st September, and some delicious food to be shared.

Shining Bright

Ladies, our first week of winter has passed and our club is in good cheer. We welcomed a new member into our club this week Anne, who has recently arrived from France. Welcome Anne, and we look forward to getting to know you. We also welcome aboard Priscilla and Tiria who have joined our club in the last month, with Tiria already completing her first speech, and it was fabulous to have several her friends join us to mark the occasion. Great to have you with us Priscilla and Tiria.

This week’s meeting incorporated our AGM with the election of our new committee members for the year with Sie Ling as our newly elected president who will most capably lead us through our next year.

We also had the presentation of two awards with Penny Lee being awarded her Advanced Communicator Gold. The Gold award is quite an achievement and the concerted effort of quite a few year’s work. Congratulations to you Penny Lee, and to Christine who was awarded her Advanced Communication Bronze. A lot of work goes into each award and it’s good to recognise their attainment and the steady gains that are made in achieving them.

Penny receiving her Advanced Communication Gold

Christine receiving her Advanced Communication Bronze








Club Award

We also, have something exciting news as a club. We have received the President’s Distinguished Club, having achieved 9 out of 10 goals, through our increased membership and also progression of members through the international education program. This is the 3rd year running and the best indication that our club is thriving!!

Our theme for this week was to ‘Shine your Light’ and our Toastmaster Penny G encouraged us to shine bright and not hide our abilities, which totally in tune as we celebrated our achievements this week.

Keep shining ladies!



Competition Day!

What an awesome Humorous speech and Table Topics competition we had!!             Penny Lee started proceedings as Contest chair and introductions of our competing speakers.  The competition got off to a rousing start with Sheila, regaling us with tales of her encounters with medical professionals, in compromising states. Lovey was next sharing her interesting experiences as a boss trying to keep staff members engaged and awake on the job! Carol spoke of her dalliances with an Irish gypsy, in the woods against the better judgement and advice from her mother and the romance that ensued. Finally, Natasha who recently joined our club, captivated with her tips for life and always looking on the positive, even when your 3- year old is seemingly uninterested in your speech. Your club certainly was interested.  A spectacular effort and a wonderful source of entertainment on the part of all our competitors who had us all giggling in our seats. However, there must always be a winner and Natasha tickled ours and the judge’s funny bones, so much so that she was awarded winner of the Humorous speech competition. Awesome effort Natasha. We’re so proud of you!!

After some scrumptious eats at half time, we moved onto our Table Topics competition ably chaired by Sie Ling Ting.  Table Topics saw six participants given the topic of “What has been your happiest moment?” Sheila, Denise, Lovey, Penny G, Nicola and Tina competed sharing their moments and stories of times had from the births and special moments with their children and happy honeymoons.  Well done to Sheila for taking out the Table Topics title, with Penny G and Denise placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.

A big shout out to our wonderful judges Beryl and Mark Baker. We look forward to watching Natasha and Sheila compete at the next level in our Area competitions in 2 or 3 months’ time.