Black Swan Newsletter December 2022

The Official Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

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A Word from the Editor

Use it or Lose it


Six weeks are almost over; in a few days our house will have two fewer residents as I become mother-in-law-free.

A part of me is really sad that they are leaving. I will have to start looking after the garden again, and all those little man-jobs around the house will start piling up again.

And we will have to start cooking ourselves again.

For the past six weeks I enjoyed great home-cooked Korean cuisine. I enjoyed it so much that I have gained six kilos. (I feel bad for my friend Amit whose parents-in-law were stuck here due to Covid for two years.)

Time to get back to the gym and to start running. Last weekend I went for a short run. Really short. 500 metres was all I could manage after six weeks with no exercise. Phew!

How quickly you can lose fitness. And strength.

At my Toastmasters meeting the next day I realised this applies to speaking as well. Use it or lose it. I presented a short speech for the first time in a while and I sounded like a beginner. Umms and ahhs, unfinished sentences, forgotten bits.

Reminded me what the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking Darren La Criox says: Stage time, Stage time, Stage time.

I used to knock back opportunities to speak at short notice. No, sorry I am not prepared. No, I do not have enough time. No, that sounds too hard.

Then I realised that every opportunity to speak is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to improve. So no more making excuses, no more saying No to opportunities to speak, no matter how small, no matter how much notice I get, and no matter where.

So if you have an open speaking opportunity at your club, give me a call. I may not be at my best, but I will deliver.



Leader Message

Have a great Xmas & New Year break

The end of 2022 is getting closer and hopefully that means that you will be able to take a break and enjoy time with family and friends. It also means that we are almost halfway through our 2022-23 Toastmasters year – time does seem to fly.


Best Wishes from the District leaders; we hope you find time to relax.

Whether you are a follower of Xmas or not, the end of the year is a time to relax, spend time with family and friends and welcome in a new year.

I hope that you all get to spend some quality time with family and friends and reflect on what you have achieved throughout the year – both inside and outside of Toastmasters and that that you get a chance to recharge for the year ahead.


Best wishes to you all for our holiday season and see you all in 2023.


Gavin Hyslop
District Director 2022-2023
District 17 Toastmasters International

Club Growth Director Gavin Hyslop



District News

Second Round Club Officer Training

UPDATE: When the newsletter was sent out, the registration links were not working. They are working now.


We have been working to develop the second round of Club Officer Training which will provide useful and interesting content for club officers who are half through their role for the 2022-23 year, while also providing essential information for those just starting in the role.

Here are the dates for the second round of training; please register for your preferred session.

Round 2 Club Officer Training - Online # 1

Date: Saturday 4/02/2023

Time: 1 - 4pm


Round 2 Club Officer Training - Online # 2

Date: Sunday 12/02/2023

Time: 1 - 4pm


Round 2 Club Officer Training - In Person # 3

Date: Saturday 18/02/2023

Time: 1 - 4pm

Location: TBC. Registration link will be issued soon.


Round 2 Club Officer Training - Online # 4

Date: Thursday 23/02/2023

Time: 6 - 9pm


For our South West clubs and members, we are still searching for a face to face training session for you, so look out for further updates.


You can contact Peggy on if you have any questions.




Club News

Table Topics Contest at Casuarina – a Timely Experience

Einstein Time

Casuarina Prison’s Speechmasters Gavel Club held its Table Topics Contest, during their regular meeting time on the 1st of December with a wider audience of interested prisoners from the Education block, prison staff, and three of the four Toastmasters who usually attend on a roster basis.

For all but one member, this was a new experience.  Throughout the year, members leave – some to freedom, others to another prison. Fortunately, through word of mouth and a supportive education team, there are others keen to join, so the maximum number of 12 members is maintained.

That one member who competed last year, took on the Contest Chair role.  Seven other members competed, including the newest member who thought he “might as well give it a go”.  The remaining members helped fill the timing, tally counting and Sergeant-at-Arms roles.

For once, everyone was there on time; no hold ups in the units, no one with last minute official visits or any of the other reasons why it can take up to 30 minutes to have everyone arrive at the Education Block. Briefings ran smoothly, and the contest began.

Each contestant responded to the Table Topic: “How can time be slowed?”

An interesting choice - and it gave rise to a variety of responses, ranging from the scientific to the use of medication and meditation.

The scientific explanation, which may or may not have been entirely accurate but sounded convincing, won the contestant First Place.

This year’s contest was a great success, reflecting the members’ commitment.  For the contestants, it was a new experience and a challenge.  For the Contest Chair it was the final role for him to complete his Competent Leadership Manual.  For the wider audience of staff and students, it raised the awareness of the club and its relevance and value.

And for the visiting Toastmasters, Juliana Kelly, Kevin Sansome, Damian Day and me?

It validates our commitment to the Club and its members. Speechmasters Gavel Club has all the elements of a successful club – enthusiastic and positive members with a willingness to learn, great camaraderie and FUN.

Judith Allen  DTM


Member Stories

Words for Leycester

Words for Leycester BOOK COVER 1

I was born in Northern Ireland. My childhood goal was to join the police force which I did. I met my husband Roch there and we had three children; Rachel , Leycester, Ranin.

On life’s journey, we both left the police force and went into business. This road took us to the Kimberley where we owned and
operated the Shell Roadhouse in Halls Creek.

On July 4th 1999 in a tragic moment of time, the vehicle I drove rolled due to a tyre blowout. Our son Leycester died at the scene. Our daughter Ranin was a passenger and suffered minor injuries. My injuries were more serious and I spent one month in hospital.

Our family was comforted by lots of people reaching out to us with letters, cards and poetry. We kept all of these. I never spoke of these times and the impact of this change our lives.

Years later I joined Toastmasters and this decision gave me the confidence to speak and to share my story.

Our family received so much kindness and support. I felt that with my new found ability to speak, that I could give back to others in their times of grief.

Through Toastmasters I also learned about the power in words. I am now a strong believer in the power and inspiration that words do hold.

My son Leycester was the inspiration to write the poetry and put it into a book. Toastmasters gave me the platform to do so.

My wish is for readers to find that power and inspiration to spread kindness and comfort in times of grief to others.

My book is “Words for Leycester”. It is available in soft and hard copy on the internet.
Just type in the title and information will come up.

Thank you to my Toastmaster Community for the support.


Caroline Devenish- Meares

And the Journey Begins!

My journey began on the 11th of February 1991.

That is the day I lost my butchering business in a tiny country town called Trayning!

It turned out that giving up on a trade which 20 years earlier was profitable, and deciding to not work, was fortunate for me. It finally gave my specialist neurologist a chance to study my epilepsy, which I had from the age of 6 months.

And believe it or not, this specialist actually cured my epilepsy, and as a result this a BIG WIDE WORLD JUST OPENED UP!

I spent 10 years retraining, acquiring a total of 9 awards:
- Eight certificates in Community Services; and
- A Diploma in Health / Remedial Massage.

Enter Toastmasters International.

For over 25 years I was a member of a religious based service organisation. In 2012 my branch folded and ceased having meetings. It was at this time that I made enquiries to join Toastmasters International. Having recently re-educated myself, I found the horror of Public Speaking to be 'The Final Frontier' in professional development,

The First Stop - Central Communicators. I made enquiries to join this club. Eric Davies was the first person I spoke to and he opened the door for me to join.

Then some time later the Annual Convention came up , and at this convention (my first), Martin O’Connor came up to me, gave me a card and said:
- "If you’re interested in joining another club, check out Competitive Speakers. Here’s our card".

And so I joined my second Toastmasters Club. In a few years I was able to complete:
- The Competent Communicator;
- Advanced Communicator Bronze;
- Advanced Communicator Silver;

With these Achievements came an explosion of confidence! Fear of Public Speaking was now a thing of the past and confined to the history books of my life. A confidence I had never experienced! All this because of the encouraging and supportive environment of the Toastmasters learning platform.

So what does my future hold for me? I want to get a handle of Pathways and start climbing those paths.

Peter Golding, ACS


Education Awards: Recognising our Educational Award Recipients


In November, 22 members from District 17 lodged 27 awards! Congratulations to everyone who earned an award.

This brings the total number of awards for the year to 209.

Three members completed their level 5, Robyn Richards DTM, Ross Wilkinson DTM and Nataly Fernandez. Congratulations!

Ross Wilkinson earned an incredible Four awards this month, making him the member with the most awards, 10, so far this year.

The Club with the most awards this month is City of Perth with 4 awards which brings their total for the year to 5.

The most popular path so far is Presentation Mastery with 50 awards, while Effective Coaching still on only 8 awards. Come on all you Coaches! Let's work on getting some awards.


These are the individual awards for the month of November:

Member Name Club Name Path Level
Renata Wells Northern Lights, Western Australia Presentation Mastery 1
Angela Burchardt Northern Gourmet Toastmasters Engaging Humor 1
Islam Farzana bToasty Perth Toastmasters Club Presentation Mastery 1
Tarisai Chandigere bToasty Perth Toastmasters Club Persuasive Influence 1
07908670 - Name unavai Melville Toastmasters Club Presentation Mastery 1
Mandy Boylan City of Perth Toastmasters Club Presentation Mastery 1
Peter Kartosudiro City of Perth Toastmasters Club Presentation Mastery 1
Paula Kosowitz Noranda Toastmasters Club Presentation Mastery 1
Jeff Zhang Toasting Human Energy Toastmasters Club Visionary Communication 1
Viola Dondo Sunday Sundowners Toastmasters Club Motivational Strategies 2
David Barton Stirling Club Dynamic Leadership 2
Ross Wilkinson Fremantle Gateway Toastmasters Club Engaging Humor 2
Josh Godage Harrisdale Piara Waters Toastmasters Club Motivational Strategies 3
David Barton Stirling Club Dynamic Leadership 3
Ross Wilkinson Fremantle Gateway Toastmasters Club Engaging Humor 3
Guojing Wei City of Perth Toastmasters Club Dynamic Leadership 3
Robyn Richards Canning Vale Toastmasters Motivational Strategies 4
David Mazzotti Murdoch Southsiders Toastmasters Club Presentation Mastery 4
Ross Wilkinson TLI Training Group Engaging Humor 4
Khashayar Afshar Melville Toastmasters Club Dynamic Leadership 4
Juliana Kelly Zoom-Masters Persuasive Influence 4
Hahn Nguyen City of Perth Toastmasters Club Innovative Planning 4
Isabelle Khoo UWA Persuasive Influence 4
Stewart Martin bToasty Perth Toastmasters Club Dynamic Leadership 4
Robyn Richards Harrisdale Piara Waters Toastmasters Club Engaging Humor 5
Ross Wilkinson TLI Training Group Engaging Humor 5
Nataly Fernandez Aspiring Leaders Effective Coaching 5

What does "Name Unavailable" mean?

When a member decides to not make their name public, it will appear as "Name Unavailable".

If you wish to change your privacy options, log into and go to your Profile. You will see a section called Privacy and Consents. The last part is Your Name on Public Reports. You can set that to display your name or not.


Help with the Website

This is my second year as the webmaster for District 17. This year I would like to dedicate more effort to updating our website, and I am looking for Contributions from You!

Do you have any District 17 memories to share? Do you have any stories you can contribute?

I am looking for any and all of the following, and more:


  • Photos and videos from district events, like District Conventions/Conferences;
  • Fliers, brochures, marketing material from past events;
  • Videos of great speeches, from contests or from your club;
  • Toastmasters Success Stories;
  • Testimonials/ Good news stories;
  • anything else relating to the district.


Any of these materials will make our website rich in content for our members as well as for any visitors and prospective members.

Please send any material to

Tom Bielski, DTM


Submitting Articles to Black Swan

Want to submit an article next month? If you have any news, stories and tips that would like to share with your fellow Toastmasters within District 17, write to us by the end of the month!

You can now submit your article online! Click here to submit using Google Forms.

Or, complete the Black Swan Submission Form and email to

  • Articles must have a relevant news category
  • Articles must be relevant or of clear interest to Toastmaster members.
  • Articles must reflect the TI core values; Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence.
  • Length must not exceed 400 words
  • Please supply images with the best picture quality available
  • Supply names of people shown in images.
  • Attach your profile picture

Gavin Hyslop, DTM
Tom Bielski, DTM
Stand In Black Swan Editors

Access the Archive

Did you miss an issue of the Black Swan?

Or do you want to find an interesting article again?

You can access all past issues of the Black Swan Newsletter in the Newsletter Archive.


Happy Reading

The Black Swan


  1. Avatar for Andre Sequeira DTM (Water Corporation Toastmasters ) Andre Sequeira DTM (Water Corporation Toastmasters ) on December 13, 2022 at 11:39 PM

    Hi Gavin and Tom

    It’s been a while since I made contact to Black Swan.

    I was just browsing through the current issue and I am writing to say that it was such an inspirational read, many thanks.

    Great to see so many members achieving a range of awards, from different clubs and at diffrent levels.

    Most of all, I was deeply moved by the members true sharing of their lives.

    Peter Golding sharing how Toastmasters opened up a new world of interaction, confidence and communication for him. Caroline Devenish- Meares sharing how she has transformed a painful expereince of hers by sharing then in Letter for Leycester and speaking to those in grief. Lastly so good to read from Judith Allen tehta we have a Gavel Club at Casuarina.

    The true Christmas spirit of reaching out to the wider community and making a difference.

    On a side note, great to attend Canning Vale Toastmasters Meeting # 700 today. Well done to Mark & Robyn Richards for staying the course.

    • Avatar for Tom Bielski Tom Bielski on December 14, 2022 at 7:12 PM

      Thanks Andre for your comments.

      Wishing you and your family, and all toastmasters, a wonderful Christmas, or an enjoyable break

  2. Avatar for Viola Dondo Viola Dondo on December 16, 2022 at 1:16 PM

    As always, this is always well-written and very inspirational. Thank you all for all you do to put this together.

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