Three decades with The (Chadstone) Oaks – Ron Walker’s Experience

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that many of our members were not even born when I became a member of Toastmasters! So why did I join and why have I stayed for so long? Many of my reasons were covered comprehensively by Mike O’Keefe in the last edition of the newsletter. However I can add some more.

We all like to seek out and socialize with like-minded people. Those who join Toastmasters are invariably enthusiastic, goal-oriented, thoughtful, intelligent people. We are in many ways so similar and yet so different. In recent years we have become more multicultural reflecting changes in the makeup of the Australian population. Most of our members now come from different countries and different cultures, enriching us with new ideas and attitudes.

Many of my best friends either are or have been members. Toastmasters is a great social activity. As one of our past members, Mary Macdermid, said (in those days we paid by the meeting): “Where else can you have a night out like this for $3. No-one expects you to bring a partner or questions why you are there. You just come along and enjoy yourself.”

And our brains need exercise just as our bodies do. Delivering speeches, evaluating, replying to impromptu topics, chairing meeting are all great ways to stimulate the “gray matter”.

We are now a more “conventional” club, more closely following the format set down by the parent organization. Meeting were once more raucous. It was a lot of fun but confusing and daunting for new attendees. We always had a business session with frivolous motions such as: “That we sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the beginning of each meeting” with speakers for and against, procedural motions, amendments, points of order etc. Even the educational session could be fun. A founding member, Bill Curtis, once delivered a serious and stern lecture admonishing us for not applauding with enough enthusiasm. He pointed out that people often delivered wonderful speeches to be greeted at the end with half-hearted clapping. Whilst Bill was speaking, a message circulated around the room saying “give him a standing ovation”. Bill returned to his seat to thunderous applause, his face glowing crimson with embarrassment.

We have become so accustomed to modern technology that we often do not appreciate how much it has changed our lives. One president did not even have a telephone, committee members having to rely on him to contact them from a phone box. Minutes and programs were typed or hand-written and distributed well in advance or “snail-mailed”. International monetary transactions were by mail order, posted to America.

I have seen many changes over the years but it is always interesting and every meeting is different. And more details about our new members to follow J

— By Ron Walker

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Meeting Details

When do we meet?

1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month at 19:30
Where do we meet?

Conference Room,
Phoneix Park Community Centre,
22 Rob Roy Road,
Malvern East 3145
(Entry via Children Play Area)