Healing his daughter after a traumatic accident that left her with a significant head injury was topmost in Glyn Williams’ mind the first time he went to Toastmasters. More than a decade later he still heads to the Tuesday night meetings with an eye to aid others.
It was suggested as therapy for his then 21-year-old daughter after suffering a major head injury.
“She wouldn’t do it without mom or dad,” said Williams. “I was dragged kicking and screaming.”
Two months later he saw positive changes in his daughter’s speaking and thought organization. Six months later he was still in the Oak Bay organization and saw changes in himself. “I realized I got through a seven-minute speech and wasn’t terribly nervous,” he said.
That’s when he determined: “There are advanced medals. I’m going to do them all.”
Williams achieved that goal two-and-a-half years ago and is a Distinguished Toastmaster – times three.
“We learn how to listen and how to give good feedback that is encouraging and yet pointed to help them take another step,” Williams said.
“I really enjoy helping people help themselves.”
Williams is “the cornerstone of the organization,” says John Sherber, also a Distinguished Toastmaster with Oak Bay who serves as district governor.
On Tuesday Oak Bay Toastmasters recognized him for that input and dedication to the group since he first joined in 1998, with a Triple Crown pin.
Triple Crown is awarded to members who achieve three educational awards in a single program year.
“Glyn is the personification of what a committed volunteer can contribute to an organization. He is supportive and often mentors members,” Sherber said. “He has been involved at club level as an executive, holding numerous positions of the seven available. He moved up to area governor and looked after three to six clubs for a year. He has also moved into the position of division governor, and at that time it was Division A with 40 clubs. He thrives on visiting clubs, enjoying their culture and supporting and guiding them if they request.”
The group also celebrated its 20th anniversary with Toastmasters International. Over the last decade membership has dipped as low as 23 and reached highs of 40 members, according to the staid statistician Williams. The former accountant tracks group statistics with precision, forward thinking and setting goals while educating the members he interacts with, Sherber said.
“The club with his guidance has been the top designation, called Presidents Distinguished, for 15 years straight,” he added. “It has been my pleasure and to my benefit to work closely with him for many years. I know that will continue.”
The Oak Bay contingent that celebrated 20 years Tuesday is full of good people and a diverse crowd. Sahand Behboodi, current sergeant-at-arms for the group, marked his first full year with Toastmasters at the start of the month. An engineering student pursuing his PhD at the University of Victoria, Behboodi hails from Iran and foremost wanted to improve his English. A second goal emerged as he immersed into the group of about 28 members.
“I wanted to know more people and I wanted to improve my language,” he said, a goal he’s “absolutely achieved.”
“I’ve learned a lot of West Coast culture,” he added.
The varied topics reflect the interests of the group. While Behboodi learns the West Coast ways, fellow members are learning all about him, points out Sherber
“Everybody has a message,” said Sherber, citing the example of learning just to pronounce Iran appropriately. “It’s a cultural exchange. It’s a dynamic that every club has, a flavour.
“I’ve never walked out of a Toastmasters meeting I’ve not enjoyed. It’s an intriguing environment to walk into.”
For more than a decade the group has met at St. Patrick Parish Hall, 2060 Haultain St. They gather on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Visit oakbaytoastmasters.ca to learn more about the club.