BSA trustee Colin Marsh gives an 'After-breakfast' speech!
Just before Christmas, I accepted an invitation to talk about stammering, and the BSA, to a Rotary Club 'Breakfast Meeting' in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, a market town in NW Leicestershire. The President of the Club had 'adopted' BSA as his charity for the year, and intended to donate part of the proceeds from their Christmas Fundraising to us.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch is about 40 minutes drive from where I live, so to be there for 7.15 am meant a very early start - and it was snowing! I was made extremely welcome, and the President explained that every year the three Rotary Clubs in the area join forces to go out collecting for Charity in the run-up to Christmas, and in January would have a 'presentation evening' at which the proceeds would be shared out equally to the three chosen charities: he also stressed that their usual practice was to support charities that worked particularly for children.
I have done a Rotary Breakfast meeting before, and experience suggests that it helps to be brief : some of those present were obviously on their way to work (the odd mobile phone could be heard vibrating while I was speaking!) and one or two had to leave after breakfast but before I had spoken.
My talk seemed to be well received - although the fact that it was now snowing hard caused quite a few to look anxiously out of the windows while I was speaking - and the advance publicity for The Kings Speech certainly helped me to engage with the audience. As is usual on these occasions, after I had finished speaking, one or two people stopped to talk - to ask about my stammer, or to tell me about their friend or relative who stammered. I never mind this, as it all helps to spread the word.
Shortly after Christmas, I was invited to go along to the combined Rotary Clubs presentation evening where, following a dinner, I would be one of three charity representatives to receive a share of the Christmas collection. The other two were a Children's Hospice in Leicester and a Dr. Barnado's project working with and for young carers - both very worthy causes.
I had no idea how much BSA were due to receive - I guessed a few hundred - but was conscious that the other two charities represented had a higher profile, locally, than had BSA. Imagine my surprise, then, after giving a short speech of thanks, I was presented with a cheque for over £3,000! I know that Rotarians work extremely hard and give generously of their time to raise money for charity, but this donation exceeded my expectations.
BSA is grateful to the Rotarians of Ashby-de-la-Zouch for their generosity and their hospitality, and thanks are also due to the people of Leicestershire who willingly parted with their money to help us give stammering a higher profile.
Extended version of article in the Spring 2011 Speaking Out, page 9