Twenty-five years a Toastmaster

Bjorn Weis Simonsen, Photo, Simon Franks

Army Bay resident, Bjorn Weis Simonsen has achieved a speaking milestone.

His longevity with Toastmasters – 25 years – will be recognised by the organisation with a Long Service Award.

His achievement was marked at Bjorn’s club, Hibiscus Coast Toastmasters, recently. It was Bjorn’s famous Danish cake all-round as the Manly based club also celebrated their Silver Anniversary as a club.

Bjorn joined Toastmasters in Hastings in 1992. He has also been a member at Waipukurau, Warkworth, Silverdale-Orewa and, during an English teaching assignment in China, he established the ‘First Fuzhou Toastmasters Club’ in 2009 as one of three High Performance Leadership projects that he has done.

Teaching has taken Bjorn and his wife, Lene, who is also a member of Hibiscus Coast Toastmasters Club, around the world including to Tanzania, Tonga, Fiji and Australia.  

“I believe that the Toastmasters International Programme is one of the best I’ve ever seen in my time as an English teacher,” Bjorn says. “It’s not a weekend crash-course. You get back what you put in with great interest.”

Bjorn has mentored many younger Toastmasters including Hibiscus Coast local Alexander Kuch who, at 22, is a global speaker on children’s adoption rights, meeting with foreign dignitaries and volunteers as a youth ambassador.  

Alex says Bjorn has pushed him to achieve his full potential. “I have learned how to speak confidently and assertively and how to engage with people who are older than I am while still voicing my opinions,” Alexander says.

Hibiscus Coast Toastmasters welcomes new members who are keen to improve their skills in speaking and leadership. Meetings are fortnightly at the Bridge Club in Edith Hopper Park, Manly.

The emphasis is always on having fun but this is especially so at the club’s annual Humorous Speech Contest, which takes place this week, on August 8 at 7.15pm. Guests are warmly welcomed. You might even hear a quip or two from the master himself!

Bjorn will be presented with a District 72 (New Zealand) Long Service Award from Toastmasters International later this year.


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