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2013 was a very significant year for Eldergate’s longest serving member, Dave Minzey. Dave achieved the Distinguished Toastmaster award (DTM), the highest individual recognition in Toastmasters and one that only about 1,200 members achieve each year, from a worldwide membership of nearly 300,000.

It means that Dave has completed the highest level on both the Communication track (Advanced Communicator Gold) and the Leadership track (Advanced Leader Silver). Or put another way – he has delivered 45 speeches from 8 different manuals, served as a club and district officer, and helped to set up 2 new clubs.

Dave, you joined Eldergate in 1989 when Margaret Thatcher was still prime minister and mobile phones were the size of a house brick. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the club since those days?

When I joined, the club was all male, and all engineers as well (mostly from host company Stone & Webster – Ed). Now we have a 50:50 male-female ratio and members from a diverse range of backgrounds which is much better for club atmosphere. There was a ‘Distinguished Club’ awards scheme but no one understood how the club could achieve an award. The current scheme is quite easy to follow. And Eldergate was the most northerly club in the UK at the time: now there are clubs as far north as Aberdeen.

What has kept you actively involved in the club for 25 years?

This club taught me skills that have proved invaluable in my life. I really like our club mission which states that we will be mutually supportive with the emphasis on positive learning; this keeps the focus on members. I also really enjoy hearing members’ stories. Whilst serving as Division Governor, I visited many other clubs but I always looked forward to returning to my ‘home’ club, Eldergate.

During that time you must have filled every role on the club’s committee, many of them more than once. How have you benefited from being involved in running the club?

I understand much more about organisation in general – including the absolute need to plan what you are going to say during a meeting, whether you are the timekeeper or the President.

What achievement are you most proud of from your 25 years in Toastmasters?

Apart from my DTM, it is the founding (and flourishing) of two other clubs, North Bucks Speakers and Bedford Speakers. This was not done alone and involved 5 separate attempts.

In member profiles, we usually only ask for one piece of advice to new members, but we’ll break the rules and allow you 3!

Thank you for your generosity!

1) Attend meetings regularly. Some nights I did not feel like going but I did and I was always pleased that I had made the effort.

2) Say yes to everything – get as much ‘stage time’ as you can. The more you do the better you become.

3) Prepare for any of the roles that you undertake. Put something of yourself into anything you do.

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