On Saturday, 1st June 2013 Darling Downs Toastmasters Club was exactly 50 years old. We decided such a magnificent heritage should be celebrated somewhere with a similar pedigree. So we settled on The Downs Club in Toowoomba, a grand old Victorian building serving the community for over 120 years, initially as a men’s club: another common characteristic shared with Toastmasters!
Eighty people responded to the celebratory call, with Toastmasters and past members travelling from Bundaberg, Brisbane and surrounds. Past International President of Toastmasters, Gavin Blakey DTM, District 69 Governor Charlie Starrett DTM, three Past District 69 Governors, and representatives of all Toowoomba Clubs came to party. Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio opened the meeting. DG Charlie Starrett offered his congratulations on this significant milestone and presented milestone pins to Dawn Vettiger ACG (20 years), and Jeremy Freyburg ATMS/CL (15 years).
Long-standing member, Bill Griffin DTM, a Toastmaster for 45 years, intrigued with tales of early days of Toastmasters pre-districts, when we were part of Toastmasters Australia. Bill’s first Convention was in Sydney where his room in a flash hotel cost $8. In 1982-83, Bill was Administration Lieutenant Governor when the convention at Cherrabah was flooded in and Bill and fellow club member, Neville Rosenberger, had to swim to retrieve the Toastmasters’ signs.
Bill caused some uproarious laughter with his memories of the “Mountain Men” as the members were dubbed at Conventions, assuring the audience he was an observer only. Two of Bill’s former Mountain Men’ mates– Bob Martin, and Kev Walsh were also at the dinner. In 1980 Kev piloted a plane flying delegates to the Convention in Townsville. International President, Eric Stuhlmueller DTM, remarked it was the first time in Toastmasters a club had chartered a plane to ensure their participation in a Convention.
Cutting the cake
The youngest member of the Club, Chris White TM, cut the cake. Throughout the evening memories were jogged by rolling photos of the Club members having fun. Tom Ware ACG/ALB, an enthralling story teller stoked the laughter with his recollections of the public service procedures in the 1960s he was bound to observe as air controller when a large American 130 Globemaster unexpectedly announced it was going to land at Dubbo in 1968.
The celebrations were rounded out by a novel officers’ change-over for the club completed in verse. New President, Suzie Ross CC inspired us with her ambitions for the club. Certainly Darling Downs Toastmasters Club is in good hands. We have a solid core of members including five DTMs and several senior experienced members, importantly with young members coming through. This gives us the solid foundation to see through the next 50 years!
(Jan Griffin DTM, Darling Downs Toastmasters Club)