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Ian Haynes

180 Eldergate members, plus a similar number of members of the Grapevine business network, packed into the Tardis-like upper room of the Slug & Lettuce on Monday night for the club’s annual Tall Tales competition and the Grapevine seasonal quiz.

Before the Tall Tale telling, we enjoyed a sumptuous 10 course banquet, specially prepared by Raymond Blanc enjoying a rare night off from his Brasserie at The Hub. The guest of honour was Prince William who stopped off in Milton Keynes on his way home from watching Aston Villa on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the Prince had checked on progress on the new public house under construction in the west of the city which is to be named ‘The Prince George of Cambridge’, in honour of his son. Well, it makes a change from the Queen Vic.

The Tall Tale tellers were Emmanuel Bolade, Brian Bollen, John Dale, Ty Harvey and Ian Haynes, all introduced by Trisha Page. The Tall Tales timer was Phil Chippendale who was fortunate indeed to survive an early evening encounter with a polar bear.

The wide-ranging subject matter included jumping from planes; ‘a room full of rich Ruperts’ (including Murdoch); ‘penguin bashing’; the dangers of breaking in to your own house; and a South African superhero called Vicus. If you weren’t there, can you match the tale to the teller? If you were there, were you sober enough to remember?

Ty Harvey was deservedly voted best speaker; his prize, a pair of silver plated turtle doves. Well, it is Christmas. The winners of the quiz, set by Grapevine’s Brian Greenwood, were Bonkers United – John Dale, his wife Antonietta, Richard Osman and Tony Fasulo.

The evening concluded with a demonstration of hypnosis by Grapevine member Paul Johnson. While Paul’s assistant, Maria, didn’t quite reach the state of deep relaxation intended, Dave Minzey was seen to nod off in the audience.

So there we are, another entertaining Tall Tales evening accurately recorded for posterity. As the late, great John Martyn used to sing, “half the lies he tells you are not true” – but the question is, which ones?

Toastmasters is an international organisation and Eldergate has long enjoyed a cosmopolitan membership. Emmanuel Bolade, the latest Eldergate member to achieve the ‘Competent Communicator’ award, hails from Nigeria, moving to England in 2007.

Emmanuel completed his early speech projects as a member of the Manchester Orators club. He has made a big impact since moving to Eldergate earlier this year, winning the club table topics contest, followed by a very creditable second place in the area contest, and finishing as runner-up in the club humorous speech contest.

When and why did you join Toastmasters?
At my first meeting, in September 2012. I joined to improve my presentation skills to boost my career progress.

How has being a Toastmaster benefited your career?
Tremendously, it has transported me from having wet palms before major presentations to actively seeking out opportunities to present!

What has been the biggest unexpected benefit for you of joining Toastmasters?
The leadership track has been beneficial in helping me manage team members and developing quality leadership traits in me.

What do you like most about the Eldergate club?
3 things – the quality is very high, the number of advanced speakers, and the fun is very addictive.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new member, what would it be?
The more you participate, the better you will become.

What book do you find inspiring?
I adore Napoleon Hill’s book “Laws of Success”.

As well as Toastmasters, what do like to do in your spare time?
Jazz piano is my pet passion, unfortunately some people say I am very not good at it.

Who is your favourite actor/ actress and why?
Nicole Kidman because of her acting skills, green eyes and beauty … not necessarily in that order.

Who is your favourite musician and why?
Michael Buble who has converted his awkwardness to a polished and classy style.

Describe your approach to life in 3 words?
Church, Relationships and Life

In “Speeches that Shook the World” (BBC4, 6 November), the poet, writer and broadcaster Simon Armitage went in search of the ‘alchemy’ that can transform the written word into a great speech.

Many of the speakers featured in the programme were very well known – Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Earl Spencer for example – while others may be less familiar, such as Colonel Tim Collins addressing his troops before going into battle in Iraq in 2003; or Pauline Pearce, a local resident spontaneously challenging rioters on the streets of Hackney in 2011. Other contributors included Philip Collins, once a speechwriter for Tony Blair; the human rights activist Peter Tatchell; and the actor Charles Dance.

The commentary and analysis were often illuminating. The ‘rhymes and half rhymes’ in the line-endings of Churchill’s speeches appealed to Armitage’s poetic sensibilities – ‘beach’, ‘street’, ‘believe’, ‘see’, ‘fleet’ – while vocal coach and actor (notably in The Thick Of It) Vincent Franklin introduced us to Logos, Ethos and Pathos. No, not The Three Musketeers but the 3 persuasive elements of classical rhetoric, as defined by the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

  • Logos – structure, logic and explanation
  • Ethos – trust and sincerity
  • Pathos – emotion

Or to put it another way, if effective speech-making is the art of persuasion, then you need to appeal to the mind, the heart and the guts. To do this, you must first identify what it is that you want people to know, to feel and to do.

Franklin also explained ‘the ladder of abstraction’, from the top rung (the big idea or concept), via the middle rung (the decisions needed to realise the big idea) to the bottom rung (the real things required to achieve it). This was well illustrated by the example of raising educational standards (the big idea) through investing in schools (the middle rung) and reducing class sizes (the bottom rung). According to Franklin, good speeches range up and down this ladder.

Other classical tricks of the trade put in an appearance including Anaphora (repeating words or phrases for effect); Praeteritio (drawing attention to something by saying you’re not going to talk about it); and Hendiatris (the Rule of 3). These were well illustrated in turn by extracts from speeches by President Kennedy, Barack Obama and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Armitage also tackled the power of language to shock, divide and inflame, notably what has become known as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech by Enoch Powell in 1968.  In contrast, the climax of the programme was a speech that he felt demonstrated how the combination of the right words, a strong argument and powerful delivery could change the mindset of a whole nation: Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech from exactly 50 years ago this year.

Reflecting on the programme, fellow and prospective members of Toastmasters will be reassured, encouraged and delighted to learn that much of the advice provided by Armitage and his expert guests echoed the objectives of speech projects in the Toastmasters ‘Competent Communicator’ manual – e.g. setting out a clear structure (Organise Your Speech); choosing the right words (How To Say It); and improving your delivery by varying your pace, pitch and power …. and using pauses (Vocal Variety).

Toastmasters can’t promise to turn you into a speaker of Martin Luther King’s calibre overnight, but we can help you find your public speaking voice. So if you dream of speaking well in public, why not drop in to one of our meetings. Guests are always welcome. Please see the Calendar pages for details.


For a detailed analysis of Earl Spencer’s eulogy at the funeral of Princess Diana, see the Toastmaster magazine of December 2003

Our intrepid English teacher in Brazil, Nina Cirana, recalls the incident that prompted her to start learning Portuguese.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a busy café having lunch – a vegetable pie with a crusty top. I picked up a fork and sat down to enjoy my lunch. It was a bit of a struggle trying to eat the pie with a fork. Suddenly out of the blue, a man came up to my table and said “f*** you?”

I didn’t hear him clearly, so I gestured as if to say ‘what’? He repeated, this time a bit louder, “f*** you?” I was stunned and shouted ‘WHAT DID YOU SAY?’ He said it again. I started swearing at him, “How dare you! I’ll call the police….” and looked around to see if anybody would look up or come to my rescue. Nobody did. They didn’t understand my language.

The man left without saying a word and returned with something in his hand. It was a knife and fork set. He offered the knife to me, saying again “facka you?” He gestured to me to use it to cut my pie. My rusty brain suddenly clicked and I realised that he was asking me if I wanted a knife – a faca (facka) –  to cut the pie!

I decided to learn Portuguese there and then. If you try to learn the language from a phrase book, it is difficult. But if you learn the rules of the language, then you can tackle any word. First comes pronouncing words, then sentences. My burning urge to learn a new language is for one reason only – food – to be able to enjoy food! If you don’t know the language, you won’t be able to go to a restaurant and it’s a struggle to do your food shopping. For example …

Milk – leite is pronounced as leichi – rule: t followed by a vowel sounds as ch

R is never pronounced as r at the beginning of a word. It’s not pronounced as Rio de Janeiro. It’s Hio de Janeiro. The currency is not said as reais, but heais. Rachel is Hachel (Hakel) and Rebecca is Hebeka. Romildo is Homioudu because R becomes H and L in the middle of a word becomes a u sound.

I now know how to say basic words and phrases like ola, tchau, obrigada and many more; a few sentences to greet people like ‘tudo bem?’ ‘voce esta muito bom’; and a majority of sentences to help me with my food and shopping. I haven’t stopped patting myself on the back whenever I have asked for something in Portuguese and they have brought it for me. 


I don’t know about the big cities in Brazil, but in Iuna and in Alto Caparao, people flock around you when you are speaking in English. I’m not exaggerating but whenever there is a conversation in the cafe (one way of course), people repeat my words and laugh – e.g. ‘thank you very much’. They repeat that many times and laugh, but there is no rudeness. They laugh because they’re happy to have learned one ‘Ingles’ phrase, even if they don’t understand what it means.


Nina turns a cafe into a classroom for one of her older students.

Our president, John Dale, reports back on the Area Humorous Speech and Topics Contests at Cranfield.

“It is with great pleasure I can tell you the two competitions took place on Saturday and that in both competitions Eldergate members took second place. The competition was a large one as, being a small area, most clubs had placed two speakers and table topics contestants.

Tony Fasulo, who did a great job talking about his Mini with the pop out headlights, came second in the Humorous Speech contest and Emmanuel Bolade did a sterling job in also coming second at Table Topics with a very difficult subject of giving an example of turning a theoretical topic into a reality.

It was a great day and we were very proud of the contribution of our members.”









Tony (l) and Emmanuel (r) receive their certificates from Lynda Andrews (Area Governor) and John Schell (VP-Education, Cranfield Speakers)

Did you know that Brazil tops the world in fruit production? Apparently they have at least 300 different fruits so in her latest dispatch, our globetrotting English teacher, Nina Cirana, gives us the A to Z of tropical fruit – well, A to C and a few others, plus a checklist of other fruits and vegetables available from her local greengrocer.

A is for abakati (pronounced abakachi), aka avocado. They are as big as pumpkins and only cost 10 to 15 pence each. You see avocado trees on roadsides, you can pick up the fruits that are lying in plenty under the trees. These trees are so plentiful that people make furniture from them. I bought an avocado the other day and sliced 1/16th of it to eat, but still didn’t manage to finish it. The outer skin is almost as hard as a shell, so you can use that 1/16th part as a bowl. You simply scoop out from it and eat it with a sprinkling of salt and pimenta. The smooth, extra creamy texture – that luxurious feeling – ahhh, tastes so divine! They are so plentiful that you can eat them as common snacks or make a smoothie called Vitaminas. You can also cook with avocado oil.

B is for banana. Tall banana plants reach up to my window on the third floor. They are bursting with bunches of bananas, and I can also see pears in profusion on the pear trees, the loaded lime trees and the pumpkin creepers on the other side. Bananas are delicious and come in more than 50 varieties. I love the banana vegetables that are about a foot long, you slice them and make banana fritters. Delicioso!

C is for chuchu. Check out the photo of the chuchus growing on the trees. I tried to take a photo in the shop, but they wouldn’t allow me. Now I’m racking my brains trying to think of what it resembles! I don’t want to start telling you how smooth it feels and how delicious it tastes!

G is for guarana. The local Brazilian drink, Guarana, is made with guarana fruit which are like red berries. They come from the Amazon and have twice the caffeine found in coffee beans. Guarana also makes you alert and increases your memory power. I drink it before and during meetings to keep me awake!

O is for oranges. I’m standing under a tree with mini oranges that are slightly larger than a grape (see photo). These oranges are called ‘the oranges for the rich’. You eat the orange whole without peeling the skin and it is extremely sweet. The way to eat them is to pop the whole fruit into your mouth. I had to use my finger to push the orange little by little till it disappeared down my throat. I learnt my lesson and started picking the baby mini oranges.


Opposite my school / flat is a greengrocer who sells only organic vegetables and fruits. Besides vegetables like carrots, potatoes, leafy/salad vegetables, beans, peas and all that we get in the UK, we also have okras, green baby aubergines, yam, caras, asparagus, green bananas, cassava, jilos and many more that I haven’t come across.

I have yet to taste the caju fruits (the cashew nut fruit) and the brazil nut fruits. But I have eaten many mangoes, guavas, sapotis, papayas and pinhas, besides the usual apples, oranges, pears, bananas, strawberries, coconuts etc.



The Humorous Speech and Table Topics contest is one of the highlights of the Eldergate club calendar, and this year two of our newer members shone in the limelight.

The Humorous Speech contest was won by Tony Fasulo with his speech entitled “A Mini Disaster”. Tony was still on crutches following his recent ‘adventure sport’ injury (sustained playing table tennis!) – incidentally the subject of a great club speech recently – so he has form in turning disaster into triumph.

Emmanuel Bolade won the Table Topics contest with his response to the subject set by Beverly Kepple: “What purchase have you made that you most regretted buying?” For Emmanuel, at least some wilted flowers bought for a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day brought some belated compensation in the form of contest-winning impromptu speech.

Richard Foster-Fletcher was runner-up  in both contests but will also go through to the Area competitions with Tony and Emmanuel. The Area contests will be held on Saturday 28 September at Cranfield Speakers (see the Club Meetings page for details of how to to get there). Tony, Emmanuel and Richard  took part in both contests and were joined by Trisha Page in the Table Topics contest.

The evening was chaired by club president John Dale. A big thank you to our judges, led by chief judge Dave Minzey, particularly to the volunteers from our neighbouring clubs – Rose Marie Calder and Ian Calder from Vale Speakers, and Lynda Andrew and Jim Reynolds from North Bucks Speakers. They were joined by Trisha Page for the Humorous Speech contest.

It’s impossible to run contests without officials so thanks are also due to Varsha Chandarana (sergeant at arms) and Jenny Chalmers (timekeeper).

Eldergate member Nina Cirana is now in charge of a school in Iuna, a larger town than Alto Caparao with a population of about 20,000.  The area is known for its coffee plantations which cover some 10,000 square miles – for comparison, imagine the whole of Wales covered by coffee plantations, then add another 20%. So pay attention all budding baristas as Nina describes the local coffee industry and its end products.

The coffee bean is the seed of the coffee cherry which is the size of a blueberry. I tasted some on the bush – yuk! But they do give an indication of the flavour because they all vary. They grow in clusters on short shrubby trees; the higher the altitude, the better the quality. The manager of the school in Alto Caparao has a farm where his father grows and exports coffee: it’s called Mariano coffee, his surname.

Every morning by 5.30 am, I can hear the machines picking the coffee cherries on the top of the mountains. These enormous vehicles have moving metal hands which shake the trees, knocking off the cherries with leaves and twigs which are then sieved automatically to separate and funnel the cherries. The cherries are dried for at least 2 months before the seeds can be extracted. The flavour is hugely dependent on when the coffee is harvested and the exact amount of drying time. If they are over dried by even a week, the taste could deteriorate.

There are many types of coffee in Brazil and people drink it from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. So far I have tried the following:

Cafezinho                    Filtered coffee, pre-sugared and sweet, with no milk.

This is what I drink normally all day. In restaurants, it is generally offered without charge. They bring a huge flask and you help yourself to as many cups as you wish (and I thought Cafezinho was a promising young central defender – Ed)

Café-com-leite            Coffee with hot milk

Café-pingado              Large portion of coffee with a drop of milk

Café-longo                  Coffee served in a large cup, more diluted than normal coffee

Café-carioca                Served in teeny weeny cups

These two are not popular at all:

Café-soluvel                Instant coffee. Who would drink instant coffee when you can have fresh?!

Descafeinado              Decaffeinated coffee. In Brazil? No way!

9 December 2013

The meeting started ‘nearly on time!’

Apologies were received from: Nina Cirana, Chris Mitchell, Richard Foster-Fletcher, Kala Flynn and Miriam Selwyn. We welcomed Susi Jensen and Sarah Cooling as guests of Ian Haynes and Varsha Chandarana respectively.

Our President told us there will be a special Toastmaster Workshop run in the Ridley Suite at the MK Christian Centre in Oldbrook on Wed 12th Feb 2014, from 8am till 9am and again from 10am till 11am. The aim is to show local businesses what Toastmasters can offer. All 3 local clubs will be involved in presenting short ‘model’ Toastmaster meetings for guests invited from local companies and organisations.

Emmanuel Bolade was Toastmaster of the Evening (TME).

The word of the day was Eloquent/Eloquence and was very well used (especially by our TME!!)

Speeches were very varied, from speech No 4 (How to Say It) from the Competent Communicator manual (Tony Fasulo  – “Double Take” – 6.07 mins) to No 2 Advanced Bronze from the Interpretative Reading Manual (Phil Chippendale – “Journey of the Magi” by TS Eliot – 5.37 mins) and lastly No 9 Advanced Silver from the Speciality Speeches manual (Ian Haynes – “Parklife” – 11.54).

The Topics session was very capably run by Beverly Kepple on the subject of Christmas.

Topics speakers were John Dale (1.43), Matt Orton (0.51), Vicki Greenwood (1.05) and Jenny Chalmers (1.40)

Evaluators were Jenny evaluating Phil (2.19), Gonza Avila evaluating Tony (2.30), Varsha evaluating Ian  (4.02) and Trisha Page evaluating the Topics session (4.02)

Varsha was General Evaluator; Vicki (a new member) was the Timekeeper; Matt (also a new member) was the Grunt Counter. Ty Harvey was the Grammarian. John made himself useful as President, Sergeant at Arms and General Evalautor of the meeting!


Best speaker: Ian. Best Topics Speaker: Jenny. Best Humour: Jenny. Best Evaluator: Varsha. General Evaluator’s award: Vicki. Emanuel was also congratulated on his performance as TME – his first time in the role.

Next Meeting

13 January 2014

25 November  2013

The meeting started just a little late. Apologies were received from Nina Cirana, Beverly Kepple, Chris Mitchell, Gonza Avila, Richard Foster-Fletcher, Kala Flynn and also from our prospective new member Steve Whiting

Varsha Chandarana was excellent as Toastmaster of the Evening, particularly her warm-up where everyone took turns to add a sentence to a story.

The word of the day was ‘vexatious. Emmanuel Bolade (Grammarian) gave a very thorough explanation of the word which was very well used.

Speeches were very lively and visual. Trish Page delivered a speech from the Advanced Manual: Speciality Speeches (‘Sell a Product’) with “An offer you can’t refuse” (11.52) which was evaluated by Ian Haynes (2.55)

Ty Harvey presented speech 3 from the Competent Communicator manual (‘Get to the Point’) entitled “Bread” (7.50) and gave a full demonstration on how to make tasty bread … and brought along some yummy examples! He was evaluated by Margaret Bollen (2.55)

Lastly, was Tony Fasulo (6.17) also on speech 3, with “Courage overrated”. Tony was evaluated by Phil Chippendale (2.45).

The theme of the topics session was ‘Choose your own ideal Xmas present’ with Jenny Chalmers as Topics Master. It was a lively and humorous session. Matt Orton spoke about a house brick (1.55); Patience Clottey on a 3 month cruise (0.48); Jose, our guest, about an ‘Oxfam cow’ (1.11); Vicki Greenwood, our new member in her first Topics speech, on Mandarin lessons (0.33); and Brian Bollen about 12 wooden spoons! (1.56)

Topics evaluator was John Dale (5.40).

Other roles were filled as follows: Brian Bollen – General Evaluator; Dave Minzey – Timekeeper and Sergeant At Arms; Vicki Greenwood – Grunt Counter


Best speaker: Tony Fasulo. Best Topics speaker and best humour: Brian Bollen. Best Evaluator: Margaret Bollen. General Evaluator’s award: a tie between Ty (!) and Varsha.

Next meetings

The tall tales evening and Christmas meal will be on 2nd December, 7 for 7.30 at the Slug & Lettuce.

Next club meeting is on Monday 9th December.

11 November 2013

With our secretary Trisha Page indisposed at the last minute, thanks to Jenny Chalmers for taking a note of the meeting.

The meeting was not endless – ‘endless’ being the word of the day.

On his return to the fold following a lengthy absence, Richard Foster-Fletcher stepped in to replace Trisha as Toastmaster of the Evening. Apologies were received from: Nina Cirana, Varsha Chandarana, Chris Micthell, Trisha Page, Tony Fasulo, Phil Chippendale. Steve Whiting attended as a guest and joined at the end of the meeting.

Miriam Selwyn gave her icebreaker entitled ‘A bit about myself’ (6.59). Gillian Hogg gave her fourth speech ‘Remember, remember’ (5.34). VP Education Beverly Kepple spoke on ‘How to use the Leadership Manual’ (7.40).

The Topics Master was Ian Haynes and his theme was Security. Steve Whiting spoke for 1.55; Brian Bollen for 2.57; Matt Orton for 1.27; Vicky Greenwood for 0.54 (well done for a first attempt); and Ty Harvey for 1.30.

The evaluators’ timings were Beverly Kepple (Miriam) 2.40; Jenny Chalmers (Gillian) 2.36; Dave Minzey (topics) 5.26. Beverly’s speech was the subject of a written evaluation by Margaret Bollen as her 9th speech from the Competent Communicator Manual (Persuade with Power).

Other roles were filled as follows: Emmanuel Bolade – General Evaluator; John Dale – Grammarian; Kala Flynn – Timekeeper; Ty Harvey – Grunt Counter; and Dave Minzey – Sergeant at Arms.


Best speaker – Gillian; best Topics speaker – Ty; best humour – Miriam; best evaluator – jointly to Dave and Jenny; GE’s award –  Miriam, for her icebreaker speech.

Next meetings

Monday 25 November.

The ‘Tall Tales’ evening and Christmas meal will be on 2 December and people were requested to: sign up as contestants, advise Trisha of their meal choices, and pay her £11.

2 meetings in the New Year will include short (15 minutes) educational workshops on evaluation techniques –  13 January and 24 March.

The club speech and evalaution contests will be held on 10 February.

28 October 2013

With our secretary, Trisha Page, otherwide engaged as both Topics Master and a speech evaluator, many thanks to Varsha Chandarana for stepping in at the last minute to take notes of the meeting.

The meeting began just after 6 and finished just after 8. It was conducted gaily – ‘gaily’ being the word of the day. 4 guests were welcomed – Saeed, Vicki, Jose and Lynette.

With his speech number 10, Emmanuel Bolade persuaded the room to ‘Be better’. In his second speech, Ty Harvey not only demonstrated how to structure a speech well but instructed everyone on ‘Internet Dating’. Patience Clottey broke the ice with her lovely introduction ‘Going round in circles’.  The speech times were Emmanuel 10:43, Ty 8:10, Patience 6:44.

The theme of the topics session was Time. Tony Fasulo told the room about the ‘time of his life’. John Dale gave his views on the USA and whether they should have kept Halloween to themselves? Varsha Chandarana spoke about the use of herbs – parsley mainly although ‘thyme’ was mentioned. Emmanuel provided a post watershed bedtime story ‘once upon a time’. The topic timings were Tony 1:40, John 1:42, Varsha 1:17, Emmanuel 1:59.

The evaluators timings were Trisha Page (Emmanuel) 2:45, Ian Haynes (Ty), 3:06, Gonza Avila (Patience) 3:15, and Beverley Kepple (Topics) 4:50.


Awards were made as follows: best Speaker – Patience, best Topics speaker – Emmanuel, best humour – Emmanuel, best – Evaluator Beverley. Jenny Chalmers gave the General Evaluator award to Patience for her icebreaker speech. By completing his 10th speech, Emmanual also achieved the ‘Competent Communicator’ award.

Next meeting

The next meeting will be on 11 November.

As part of any other business it was noted that the tall tales evening and Christmas meal will be on 2 December.

NB There will be no meeting on 23 December (the 4th Monday in the month)

14 October 2013

A lively meeting. 17 people in attendance, including 4 guests. Apologies were received from Nina Cirana, Tony Fasulo, Gillian Hogg, Chris Mitchell, Richard Foster-Fletcher, Patience Clottey and Gareesh Madhas.

We started 3 mins late and finished late too. Ian did a great job as TME…. his warm up about things to do for free in MK dove-tailed perfectly with John’s Topics Session!

Our President, John Dale, welcomed our Area Governor, Lynda Andrews. He highlighted the Area 44 club meeting to be held at the Slug and Lettuce on 4th November, 7.30pm. John reminded us that layout of the room (including whether or not a projector and laptop are required) needs to be requested by the Friday prior to the meeting and that coffee for our meetings requires a small contribution of £1 each.

Jenny Chalmers gave us the word of the day, which was MISCELLANY, referring to a mix of things.

We had 2 formal speakers and a workshop from the ‘Better Speaker’ series on Impromptu Speaking led by Ian Haynes. The first speaker was Dave Minzey (9.30) evaluated by Emmanuel Bolade (2.50). His speech was the bringing-history-to-life project from the advanced manual on Storytelling – ‘Nature cannot be fooled’, about the Challenger space shuttle disaster.  The second speaker was Gonza Avila (8.28), evaluated by Trisha Page (2.40). For the vocal variety project in the Competent Communicator manual, Gonza invited us to play the part of a panel considering his request for investment in new computers.

Topics was conducted by John Dale with the subject of Milton Keynes. Following on from the educational workshop, speakers were given 15 seconds to think prior to speaking. The topics speakers were 1. Beverly Kepple on whether or not MK should continue to expand (1.26); 2. Phil Chippendale on his experiences of A&E at MK Hospital (1.57); 3. Jenny Chalmers on a life-changing experience in MK (1.10): 4. Matt (a guest) on HS2, trains and transport in MK (1.27): and 5. Ty Harding on what MK would be like in 50 years time (1.22)

A special interactive evaluation session was led by Ian (9.15) where it was noted that Ty had made a magnificent improvement in ‘Impromptu Speaking’.

Margaret and Beverly shared the role of General Evaluator.

Miriam took on the role of Grunt Counter for the first time.

Emmanuel was very informative in his role of Timer.


As there were only 2 formal speeches, there was no Best Speaker award. Best topics speaker was Beverly, best evaluator was Emmanuel, most humorous speaker was Gonza! The General Evaluator’s award went to Ian.

Next meeting

28th October when we will be meeting at the Slug & Lettuce afterwards for nosh and natter, including a committee meeting.

23 September 2013

Members were almost outnumbered by visitors as there were 6 guests and 11 members. The meeting started late but somehow we finished early! There were apologies from Nina Cirana, Chris Mitchell, Tony Fasulo, Varsha Chandarana, Margaret Bollen, Brian Bollen, Gareesh Madhas and Mary-Ann Avotri.

Our President, John Dale, mentioned that the Area Contest is on Saturday 28th Sept at Cranfield Speakers, from 10am till 1pm. (Please do come along and support your Eldergate entrants: Tony Fasulo in the Speech Contest and Emmanuel Bolade and Trisha Page in the Topics Contest. Unfortunately, Richard Foster-Fletcher is unable to make the competition). John also reminded us that we should have a committee meeting following the second meeting of October.

Our Toastmaster for the evening was Jenny Chalmers and she started us off with a very amusing warm up of sentences starting with successive letters of the alphabet… from A going right through to Zed!

Formal speeches were given by Emmanuel (speech no 9 from the first manual) “Plan Your Exit Strategy” and by Dave Minzey (speech no 2 from the High Performance Leadership project) “Speechcraft in India”. Both speakers went over their allotted times (Emmanuel 8.06 minutes and Dave 20.03 minutes)

Their evaluators, Ian Haynes and Beverly Kepple were excellent in their roles, giving good feedback.

As we were  ‘short on the ground’, Dave Minzey also took on the role of Topics Master, with his very popular theme – inspired by Michael McIntyre’s ‘spice jars’ sketch – of talking household objects! First up was Ian Haynes as a frying pan (1.54), then Ty Harvey as a 3 year old credit card (.35), Matt (a guest) as a vacuum cleaner (1.09), Steve (also a guest) as his front door (1.19) and finally Miriam Selwyn an alarm clock (1.14).

Our Topics Evaluator was Gillian Hogg. Gillian kept good timing with 3.42 mins. She praised Dave for his excellent Topics subject.

Our Grammarian was Ty with an excellent choice of word: Audacious or Audacity and several members were audacious enough to use it, including our guest Susan.

John also multi-tasked this meeting, being timer and grunt counter. Dave received the duck for the most grunts! (but then he did talk the longest – Ed)


As there were only 2 speeches, there was no best speaker award, but best Topics and most Humorous Speaker went to Ian, with Ian also sharing best Evaluator with Beverly. General Evaluator was Trisha Page who gave the GE award to all the guests who really joined in.

Next meeting

Monday 14 October

9 September 2013

For a report on the Humorous Speech and Topics Contests, please see the Eldergate Members Blog page.

19 August 2013

Our meeting started and finished on time. Dave Minzey (Sergeant at Arms) opened the meeting and gave us an interesting warm up session which showed that only two members actually knew their own blood group!

Our President, John Dale, noted the apologies: Jenny Chalmers, Varsha Chandarana, Nina Cirana, Chris Mitchell, Phil Chippendale, Martin Pebody, Deborah Dow, Tony Fasulo, Richard Foster-Fletcher, Brian Bollen, Margaret Bollen. We had one guest, Charlotte.

Minutes from the last meeting were acknowledged and seconded.

Our Vice President of Education, Beverly Kepple, handed round both the up and coming schedule and the schedule for our contests (Humorous Speech and Table Topics) on 9th Sept and asked for volunteers as both speakers and officials.

Our Grammarian, Trisha, chose ‘Decorum’ as the word of the day. It was used by 2 people once and 2 people twice!

Formal speeches were all from the Competent Communicator manual: Gonza Avila (5), The Silver Peugeot; Gareesh Madhas (2), It’s a Secret; Ty Harvey (1), The Tree of Life. They spoke for 6.48, 7.09 and 5.12 respectively.

Our Topics Master, Dave Minzey, chose the topic of ‘Fracking’. His chosen speakers were Emmanuel Bolade (1.44), John Dale (1.44), Miriam Selwyn (1.04), Patience Clottey (.20) and Beverly Kepple (1.51)

Speech evaluators were John Dale (3.27), Emmanuel Bolade (3.29) and Beverly Kepple (2.41). and Gonza Avila as Topics Evaluator (4.09).

Gonza had virtually a clean sweep, winning best humour, best evaluator and best speaker! Beverly won best topics speaker and the General Evaluator’s award went to Patience for her first role as Grunt master.

Our President presented Icebreaker pins to both Ty and Gareesh for doing their first speeches (the latter a few weeks ago).

9 members met up for food and drink at the Slug and Lettuce after the meeting.

Next meeting
Monday 9th September: Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests

12 August 2013

Another lively meeting. 17 people in attendance, including 4 guests. Apologies were received from Varsha Chandarana, Nina Cirana, Chris Mitchell, Richard Foster-Fletcher, Gareesh Madhas, Deborah Dow and Martin Pebody.

We started on time and finished one minute early, despite juggling the Topics Session to after the refreshment break.

Phil Chippendale did a great job as Toastmaster of the Evening … his warm up was both relaxing and invigorating at the same time!

Our President, John Dale, mentioned our up and coming Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests on 9th September and asked for volunteers in all roles. We voted to hold a social gathering at the Slug and Lettuce after the contest. John also mentioned that the North Bucks Speakers competition is on 19th Sept. Please do put your name forward to help them if you can.

Emmanuel Bolade was voted in as our newest member.

The word of the day was CAMPANOLOGICAL which refers to ringing the changes/changing (campanology…bell ringing)

We had 3 formal speakers. Ian Haynes (13.16), Tony Fasulo (5.44) and Emmanuel Bolade (7.25). Ian did speech 8 towards his Advanced Communicator (silver) award. Tony and Emmanuel presented speeches 2 and 8 respectively from the Competent Communicators manual.

The Topics Session was conducted by Trish Page with the subject of accidents. Gonza Avila (1.12), Patience Clottey (1.07) Brian Bollen (1.42) and Miriam Selwyn (.27) all spoke.

Evaluators were Brian Bollen (3.30), Jenny Chalmers (2.30), Gonza Avila (2.14) and Dave Minzey (6.32) (Topics)


Best speaker was Tony Fasulo, best topics speaker was Brian Bollen, best evaluator was Jenny Chalmers, most humorous speaker was Tony Fasulo + crutches!

The General Evaluator’s award went to Miriam Selwyn, one of our guests, for attending and participating despite a 3rd degree burn on her arm (mistaken as evidence of having given blood!)

Next meeting

Monday 19th August due to the Bank Holiday on 26 August.

Trisha was brought up in Australia and brings a typically sunny, smiling and straight talking disposition to every club meeting. She has been club president twice and is currently the club secretary.

The photo (left) shows Trisha in her fancy dress outfit at the Toastmasters national conference in Glasgow a few years ago. The theme was the circus and Trish went as the big top. She had trouble sitting down at the dinner table but at least she won first prize!

When and why did you join Toastmasters?
2006. I joined because I wanted to be better when I did my 1 minute and 10 minute slots promoting my business at networking meetings

What did you find your biggest challenge when you first joined Toastmasters?
The Topics session, speaking off the cuff

… and how did you tackle that challenge?
Watched and listened to others, attended a workshop and practiced

How has being a Toastmaster benefited your business or personal life?
It’s given me huge confidence, both running my business and in my personal life … nothing fazes me now!

What has been the biggest unexpected benefit for you of joining Toastmasters?
I’ve been asked to be MC (master of ceremonies) at my son’s wedding! I’m so proud and excited!

What do you like most about the Eldergate club?
The friendship and support

What book do you find inspiring and why?
“Mutant Message Down Under: A Woman’s Journey into Dreamtime Australia” by Marlo Morgan. It makes me think about what is important in life

Describe your approach to life in 3 words
Never give up