Roma Toastmasters 25th anniversary celebrations at the Club Hotel. Photo: Lachlan Berlin
Roma Toastmasters 25th anniversary celebrations at the Club Hotel. Photo: Lachlan Berlin

Roma Toastmasters ceremoniously celebrates 25 Years

DAVID Bowden was initially reluctant to start a new Toastmasters Club in Roma, but his determination and efforts led to significant improvements in the community’s communication and leadership skills.

The club has now celebrated its 25th anniversary with a ceremony and ritual at the Club Hotel on October 24.

Born in Mitchell and raised in Muckadilla, the 76-year-old governor first joined Toastmasters in 1972 in Rockhampton.

He describes Toastmasters as his ‘university’ as it was low cost and provided flexibility around his work and family.

“The original formation came from an instigation from a lady by the name of Libby Stevens and Libby was the driving force - approached me in February of 1995 to form a club.

“I was a bit reluctant because I’d already formed others and it’s a lot of hard work.

After they went ahead with the formation, they found 22 members to join and got the club set up in a ‘remarkable’ effort in under four months.

“And because we are here, we’ve been the instigator of forming other clubs.

“Like Charleville, was a club that was formed, we formed St George, we helped with Tara and would you believe, we even had a hand in forming Moree in New South Wales.”

Mr Bowden was the first person from western Queensland to be made district governor for Toastmasters, with over 170 clubs under his belt, which he served for a three-year term.

He believes the Roma Toastmasters club’s success comes from the broad range of people that join the club, from all different walks of life.

Members have come from professions such as agribusiness, council, and former Western Star journalists, and from many countries including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Throughout the club’s history, there have been members who have achieved much recognition as part of Toastmasters international including foundation member Jessica Kenway, who went to compete in an international championship, and Allan Anderson who participated in an international speechmakers contest.

“That’s what Toastmasters is about, making sure you give the best of yourself,” Mr Bowden said.

“Inherently, the weaknesses I had in 1972 I’ve still got, the only thing that improved was that my strengths usually overshadow my weaknesses.”

Mr Bowden is feeling really ‘great’ to be able to reach 25 years of Roma Toastmasters.

“I’m just so pleased that we’ve been able to have this anniversary tonight, it just means so much to me.”

President Ben Handley said he joined Toastmasters to help with his communication and help with his public speaking.

He first heard of the organisation by setting up meeting rooms for Toastmasters near his Dad’s work in Toowoomba.

When Mr Handley was at university, one of his friends joined Nuremberg Toastmasters in Germany and was invited along.

“So I went along as a guest to the Nuremberg Toastmasters in Germany and I was amazed because all of these Germans speaking English, doing all their speeches in English.

“I got a job as a facilitator out here (in Roma), and I joined Toastmasters just to get my confidence, get my diction, thinking on my feet...”

He said the club is always looking for new members.

During the formal ‘changeover’, the following committee members were formally sworn in by governor David Bowden:

President - Ben Handley

Vice President (Education) - Noel Whincop

Vice President (Membership) - Elwyn Brooks

Vice President (Public Relations) - Shane Sellars

Treasurer - Joe Abbott

Sergeant-at-arms - Elwyn Brooks

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