Federation Toastmasters is powering on, welcoming a remarkable four new members (including two recent Speechcraft graduates) into the group at its changeover dinner last Wednesday.
The meeting at Stannum House was number 137 for the local chapter of the world-renown movement to develop communication and leadership skills.
Area director David Maddigan was on hand to swear in the new committee for the coming year, and he was also astonished at the growth rate. He hails from the Inverell Breakfast Toastmasters Club.
The evening's program included speeches from Lisa Sommerlad and Noelene Hyde as the culmination of their Speechcraft short program, which had allowed them to dip their toe in the Toastmasters world before committing to membership (which they ultimately did).
"Eight weeks ago they were ordinary people, and now they're Toastmasters," club president Susan Butterfield said.
Introduced (and assessed!) by their Speechcraft counterpart, Ms Sommerlad spoke on her lifetime of picking up rubbish, "an international rubbish pickeruperer", she now calls herself.
She was inspired by her former-park ranger dad John. Both her parents were on hand to witness her graduation.
"I don't believe rubbish should be left there for someone else, just because it was left there by someone else," she said.
Ms Hyde delivered on eloquent speech on the week-long lifetime of a rose unfolding in her garden, from tight green sepals to "ageing gracious lady" and beyond.
The meeting was, as ever, a lively and entertaining one, more so with Stanthorpe Toastmasters members attending for the occasion.
Marie-Louise Ihle was responsible for the night's table topics, which put people on the spot to deliver an impromptu speech on a surprise subject. The speeches, however, are limited to just two minutes and are voluntary.
"There's no torture allowed at a Toastmasters meeting," Mrs Ihle said.
Topics included 'on what do you spend the most frivolous amount of money', 'what's one thing you do that people would think was crazy', 'if you could relive one moment in your life, what would it be', 'if there was a movie about your life, would it be a comedy, drama, action or romance', 'what was your best purchase under $50', 'if you could change your career, regardless of talent, what would it be', 'what would be your advice to your 15-year-old self', 'who would win the fight between a grizzly bear and gorilla' and, finally, 'if you could talk to someone for 30 minutes, who would it be'.
The answers were not only entertaining but often illuminating, unearthing a penchant for fine wine, a history of sky-diving, a cheetah encounter, and Mr Maddigan's shrine to John Wayne. Peter Duncan's pick for a 30-minute conversation was Beethoven, but, as someone pointed out, wasn't Beethoven deaf?
On his tour of all clubs in his area, Mr Maddigan said each has a different personality but they're all populated by fantastic people.
"Congratulations on your growth of four members in one meeting," he said.
"It's unheard of."
Ms Butterfield threw down the gauntlet to the visiting Stanthorpe club.
"We will be a Distinguished Club before you," she said.
"Let the war begin."
The Distinguished Club Program is a list of 10 goals covering education, membership, training and administration. The first of the membership goals is four new members, so Federation Toastmasters is already on its way.
In addition to inducting the committee for the coming year, Mr Maddigan had a surprise announcement for Ms Butterfield, presenting her with her second triple crown pin for awards earned through the year.
It's her second triple crown. If she earns a third she's eligible for a 'diamond crown' pin, and it's on her radar.
"If something's worth doing, it's worth doing well," she said. "That's my credo.
"It takes commitment, but I have fun along the way."
Another member Jan Evans noted that away from the more serious business of the meetings, there's always a laugh.
"And you leave with a smile," she said.
Federaton Toastmasters normally meets at the Salvation Army Hall on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 6.15pm, with a call to order at 6.30pm. Call Ms Butterfield on (02) 6736 3363 or 0409 609 765 or email email@example.com for more information.