Members’ achievements were highlighted as Worthing Speakers Club celebrated its official fifth birthday.
The group, which helps people overcome the fear of public speaking, was founded by Meg Heyworth around 2006 but it took seven years for membership to grow large enough for it to become a chartered Toastmasters club.
Meg shared the story of her adventures at the birthday celebration with current members, visiting Toastmasters and guests.
Achievements celebrated included Toby Wilson being placed third in the Division 91 Toastmasters’ international speech contest.
Toby said: “The support and encouragement from Worthing Speakers has helped me grow in confidence and skills to get this far.”
Toby is a senior adviser for West Sussex County Council, working in children’s rights. He joined the club to develop skills in being concise and not speaking too fast.
Toby said: “I had just turned 40 and was looking for a new hobby. I also love hearing other people’s stories, every meeting is different and every night I learn something.”
Long-time member Cecily Brotherton received an outstanding toastmaster award from the division and several other members won awards for their learning and development progression.
President Ellie Henderson said Toastmasters was for everyone. As well as public speaking, the organisation focuses on leadership development and has a new education programme.
Ellie, who has just started a new job in project management for an animal welfare charity, joined the club in the hope she would start to enjoy public speaking.
She explained: “When I worked for The Woodland Trust, my boss asked me to give a talk to the whole charity – about 200 people. I wanted to say yes but I was worried that I wouldn’t do a good job as I hated public speaking. I had to say no.
“Afterwards, I did a one-day internal course but it still wasn’t enough. I have given talks for work since joining the club. When you work for a charity, it is pretty important to be able to speak with conviction about your work.”
The club meets at the Burlington Hotel in Worthing at 7.15pm on the first and third Thursday of the month. Visit worthingspeakers.club