Follow-up to a member’s book launch

In this blog post, our President Sheila Hailstone reflects on the launch of her book and how Toastmasters has helped achieve this success. Enjoy!

The front page of the local newspaper featured a story on CWC President Sheila Hailstone DTM and the launch of her book Dancing Around Cancer.
Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club President Sheila Hailstone DTM reflects on the events subsequent to her July 2020 book launch

It’s been quite a month. After a highly successful book launch in July, at Turanga (Christchurch Central Library), I was delighted when the ensuing media publicity resulted in Turanga purchasing 4 of my books for the Canterbury community. It just felt right, as if I was in this amazing circular community bartering system. 

I paid the library to hire a room. People came, which created publicity, which resulted in an article in the newspaper. The publicity resulted in people in the community asking the library to purchase the books. The library purchased the books and I sent the money to Breast Cancer Cure to support their work in research. My objective of helping make deaths from this disease history in your lifetime became one step closer.  My oncologist purchased the last printed book left over from my book launch. Yes, true! I sent $1900 to Breast Cancer Cure. 

No, that’s not going to result in world-breaking research. But as the little boy once said, as he threw one starfish back in the water, on a beach covered in dying starfish, “it made a difference to that starfish.” We have no idea what the smallest action can result in. My efforts are ongoing, I am figuratively picking up more starfish.

My book Dancing Around Canceris on the Amazon Website and both the paper and e-book can be purchased through the Amazon US website. All the profits raised will go to Breast Cancer Cure. A dear friend in Germany, and a fellow cancer sufferer, sent me a message to say her book group will buy digital copies for their next book discussion. So you see more starfish …

I am also investigating getting the book printed here to save the cost of postage. So do let me know if you are interested in getting a copy this way.

We recorded my interview at the library book launch, with CWC Toastmaster and comedian Laura Bruce. I will be putting that on my website this week. So if you missed out you can still enjoy it on… . (Remember the hyphen.)

If you’re not a member of our Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters group, why don’t you come and visit us? We meet every Friday at lunchtime. Meet my amazing team of women and find out why we were awarded top community-focused club in New Zealand for the past two years running.

Sheila Hailstone DTM

President CWC Toastmasters

New members welcomed

Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters has welcomed a number of new members during the past few months. We’ve also had a number of visitors attend a meeting for the first time.

If you are thinking you may want to become a more confident speaker, you can be assured of a warm welcome at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club. When you arrive someone will greet you, give you a name badge, ask you to sign the guest book, and then take you to a seat where you will find a meeting agenda. They’ll also ask if you are happy to speak if you are called upon, or if you would prefer not to speak just yet.

After the meeting, we like to go across the road for a coffee and a bit of conversation, and you will be invited to join us for this too.

If you have any questions about Toastmasters, please click here and send us a message. We will promise to give you a warm welcome, so don’t be afraid to come along. Try to arrive around 10 minutes prior to our 12.30 start time if you can, as this will give us time to get you properly settled in before the meeting begins.

In the news: Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters club

We were delighted to get media coverage of our club’s recent achievements in the Nor’West News this week in Christchurch.

At the District 72 conference, our club won an award for having a positive impact on our community. It’s the second year we’ve won the Jack Duffy Memorial Rose Bowl.

Thanks to the Nor’west News for their interest in our community and our club!

“If at first you don’t succeed, compete, compete, again.”

Also at the conference, Laura Bruce won the District 72 Humourous Speech Contest with a speech entitled, “Smart, Helpful, and a Great Communicator, She’s the Ultimate Assistant”. Prior to this win, the best Laura had ever placed in the Toastmasters Humourous Speech contest was second place in her club contest in Scotland, in 2018.

“My experience with the Humourous Speech Contest should be an inspiration to all Toastmasters,” said Laura. “My first year in the contest [2014] I came second. The second year [2015], I went over time. The third year [2016], I came second. The fourth year, 2017, I was on the District Leadership Team and could not compete. In 2018, I placed again — but again, only second — and so could not progress to the Area contest.

“To finally make it to an Area contest in 2019 — now a member of Christchurch Women’s Club — was such a thrill! I was delighted to proceed to the Division Contest in April. But to win at District is the biggest thrill ever!”

“What I have learned from competing each year since I joined Toastmasters is that persistence pays off. I have also learned that it’s important that your speech be funny, and it’s good to get an early laugh to put your audience at ease.”

“It’s important to remember what you present in the Humourous Speech Contest still has to conform to the structure of a speech. It can’t be a series of one-liners, or a stand-up comedy routine,” she added.

“That being said, a funny story is an ideal starting point for the Humourous Speech Contest. I still remember the District 71 Contest at the Titanic Conference in Belfast in 2014. One of the contestants, a speaker from Ireland, talked about his trip to a water park in Italy. The imagery of his swimsuit making him stick to the water slide, together with the accompanying gestures, was hilarious. He had us in stitches — and he didn’t even win!”

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