Talk of the town

Toastmasters celebrate with open house

Paul Ralfs

Raise a glass to inspiration, humour and education with the Oak Bay Toastmasters club this month.

Toastmasters brings members together for various reasons, and while many join to improve communication and public speaking skills, when Paul Ralfs joined 34 years ago it was the warm reception he found most encouraging.

Ralfs has been with the Oak Bay Toastmasters, which formed in 1994, since it was revived in 1998.

It was while working at a bank in Vancouver that Ralfs was first introduced to the Toastmasters, and while he didn’t join to work on his communication and public speaking skills, he eventually gained the courage to start the non-profit B.C. Neurofibromatosis Foundation.

“I formed it 29 years ago and it’s still going strong,” he said. “We’re actually based in Victoria now. It was started in Vancouver.”

Earlier this month, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen proclaimed February Toastmasters International Month.

“It felt really good to get the proclamation,” said Ralfs, vice-president of public relations for the Oak Bay Toastmasters Club. “It all happened very quickly, so I’m very impressed with the support we’ve received from the municipality.”

To celebrate the proclamation, the Oak Bay Toastmasters Club will be holding an open house on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at St. Patrick’s Church Hall.

“We’ll be having our meeting and it will be fairly similar to what we normally do, except it’s going to be about 15 minutes longer to allow for the introduction of guests, and a question and answer period at the end,” Ralfs said.

There will be three guest speakers at the open house, a new member will be making a debut speech, a longtime member will be making a 10th speech marking a milestone as a Toastmaster, and the club will welcome past international president Pat Johnson, who will be giving a speech on leadership.

The doors open at 7 p.m. with the meeting beginning at 7:15 p.m. and running until 9 p.m.

Toastmasters International has more than 280,000 members around the world. The Oak Bay Club is currently home to 28 members.

If you plan to attend Tuesday’s open house, contact Ralfs at p55ralfs@telus.net or call 250-381-0690.