Speaker’s Corner

Our Speaker Co-ordinator Sue, went along to the Lancashire Federation of Women’s Institutes offices in Leyland recently to see the latest batch of speakers audition. Did any of them have the X-Factor? Over to Sue…

Well, I’ve had many jobs in my time, (paper girl, leaflet distributor, home help, betting shop runner … all these before I left school) but I must say my role as speaker co-ordinator has, so far, come up trumps.

We have had our first three speakers and Shakespeare would be proud – tragedy, history and comedy – in the bag already! I sit there in trepidation every month! Will the group like them, will the speakers live up to expectations … will the speakers turn up!

So far, so good!

Sourcing them, phone calls, paperwork, confirmations, speaker requirements, fees, travel expenses, equipment – the list goes on – but I think I’m getting my head round it. I’ve booked someone for every slot in 2012 and the variety looks good – more by luck than judgement! I’ve even got a few already in the bag for 2013.

But … just as I was thinking, this is all organisation and no fun – I was invited to attend the Speaker Auditions at the Lancashire Office in Leyland. Me! A judge! I thought about my approach. Simon Cowell? Craig Revel Horwood? No, I was more like Bruno Tonioli!

Five speakers auditioned and they got better and better as the afternoon progressed. First, there was an archaeologist. Yes, I thought that too, but he was good – Slave Trade and Georgian Lancaster brought to life by a very knowledgeable man. Can an archaeologist really be called Billy? This one was passionate about his subject and as well as talks he also does walks – one to think about, perhaps?

Next up was Tai Chi – a careful explanation and demonstration by an accomplished master of the art. Our yin and yang was very finely balanced!

Taking us up to the break was a poet who read some of his work aloud. He was quite nervous but his words did the work for him. Bliss! Anyone who knows me knows I love poetry, literature and arts so this worked for me. Some of his poems reminded me of Seamus Heaney – not bad for a poet who only started writing in his forties. I had to stop myself asking question after question but I did manage to find out that he could also do workshops and perhaps help us to compose our own WISH poem – certainly more food for thought. I’ve since bought his book and the poems are just as good on the page as they were spoken.

A well earned break – but the WI does things with style and aplomb. No free for all or queuing up here! We were served with tea or coffee and biscuits where we sat. How very civilised!

A couple of us, well, me really, noticed a good looking young man hovering by the door. I said hello, trying to put him at ease and was treated to a lovely smile and a definite twinkle in his eye. He was our next victim! Our gardener. He talked – no notes, no slides, no prompts. Just good, old fashioned knowledge. He won over all the ladies in the room. Of course, I had a few questions again. Yes, he can tailor his talk; yes, he can demonstrate planting tubs; yes, he could bring plants for sale. No, I could not have his number.

Last speaker of the afternoon and almost time to go home. Surely, we have to end on a high note? What’s this? Impact of railways on 19th and 20th Century Culture? Could I sense a group yawn? If I did, it was politely stifled. I need not have worried. It was, in my humble opinion, the best audition of the afternoon. Full marks from me. The speaker included artists J M W Turner, Manet, Monet, Berthe Morisot (my favourite French, female Impressionist), poets Edward Thomas and John Betjeman and, as if that’s not enough, renowned combustion engine enthusiast, Roy Cropper to bring the age of steam and speed to life.

A great afternoon. Thanks for the memories WISH!

Sue Morris
Speaker Co-ordinator

Neil Smith - August 8, 2014 - 3:43 pm

I give talks to WI on my travels; playing for Liz Taylor in Rome, for the Red Army in Hungary and for Blair & Clinton and for the Queen Mum’s 100th. Best Neil

James Byrne - October 29, 2014 - 9:40 am

I would like to apply to take part in your speakers auditions.
I work as a poet, My work is both moving and funny. I also hold workshops in schools. I perform a stand up poetry evening lasting over One hour in theatres and poetry clubs around the UK.
I have been performing my own work for over Twenty years.

Yours Faithfully
James Byrne

Caroline Hesketh - January 4, 2015 - 8:04 am

Where can I find contact details for the speakers that you menting especially the Gardener and Railways. Are they in Lancashire WI handbook.? Our WI is based near Chorley in Lancashire

WIADMIN - February 8, 2015 - 9:53 pm

Hi Caroline, if you contact Lancashire Head Office in Leyland, they will be able to send you a list of approved WI speakers. Thanks, Helen

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