Step into a universal distinguished surprise party

The Distinguished Toastmaster Award (DTM) is the highest award a person can achieve through Toastmasters.  This award takes years of work, continuously applying oneself to learning the skills of public speaking and leadership.

Tonight we celebrated this monumental milestone with Gary.  We’d organised a special surprise celebration, inviting guests from other clubs, Gary’s family and past Toastmasters.  There were two formal speeches and great round of Table Topics, then the big presentation.

But first-up was the man-himself with a bard!  Ellie revealed she had deviously locked him into the role to ensure that he came along and fell into our trap!  Reading from “Chicken soup for the soul”, Gary told the story of Glen Cunningham, who out of sheer determination transformed himself from a cripple to running the world’s fastest mile.  Utterly inspirational, and so fitting for this night.  Thank you for sharing this story Gary.

Gary Bard

Speaker one tonight was one of our newest Toastmasters, David B, this time with a great ‘soap box’ speech titled “Step parenting”.  David opened with some marital history before launching into this difficult topic,  discussing the challenges of becoming a step dad, balancing relationships, family rules & discipline.  David rounded all of this out, emphasising the importance of communication in making it work.  Evaluator Janet commended David on the enthusiasm and energy that he bought to this speech.  Congratulations David on achieving your 3rd speech with Toastmasters.


Already on his fifth Competent Communicator project tonight was Sam with “Universal Language”.  The title of the project was “Your body speaks”, a talk where the speaker is called to begin to apply body language to enhance their communication.  It would be fair to say that Sam well-and-truly nailed this objective by approaching the speech in a truly innovative way.  Sam demonstrated both ineffective and effective body language throughout the speech, calling for audience feedback into what he was doing wrong!  This project had gone completely recursive!  Crossed arms, loss of eye contact, looking to the ceiling, defensive hands, repetitive movements, touching the face and strange leg-work – all the “things you wouldn’t normally do, which suddenly spring out when your nervous”.  Thank you for this creative approach to CC5 Sam, we all learned something from this fantastic speech.


David K’s tabletopics were a fantastic challenge, with participants called to talk / lie about certain past events in their life.  Margie was a dwarf stunt double, challenged with jumping from a “1m high cliff”.  Gail described how she got through 50 meringue pies in one sitting and Nick spun an elaborate story based around treasure hunting for lost children’s toys at the zoo!  Owen discussed the perils of flying around the world in a hot air balloon and we welcomed our guest Lucy who did a great job introducing herself and even taking questions from the floor!  We’d love to see you back Lucy 🙂

But before we handed over the heavy DTM award plaque, we did what any room full of Toastmasters would naturally do – we made some speeches.  There was Tim, Gail, Owen, Janet, Dave Y, Chrissy, Rodney and his lovely wife Jo.  Gary was praised for his professionalism, his drive and speaking accomplishments.  His ambition, leadership, vision and ability to follow-through.  We celebrated this truly great guy, who impacted lives through applying Toastmasters.  After accepting his award, a humbled Gary spoke.  “Anyone can start a club” he said, “But the real challenge is to get it to continuously thrive”.  On reflecting on this achievement, Gary played down the award, instead posing the question “But what did I really achieve?  Who did I influence and what did I actually build”.  The answer was obvious – every person packed into that room had individually benefited from Gary’s influence, and thing he built was a thriving club – what is now truly, “The jewel in the crown of Christchurch Toastmasters clubs”.

Gary award

Congratulations Gary.  We are all so incredibly proud of you!

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