Rooty Hill Toastmasters member Andrew Hession celebrated for 10 years' service

(l-r) Jason Cornelius, Eric Foster, Eric Bayliss and Andrew Hession at the club's meeting place, West Tradies, Mount Druitt. Picture: Heath Parkes-Hupton
(l-r) Jason Cornelius, Eric Foster, Eric Bayliss and Andrew Hession at the club's meeting place, West Tradies, Mount Druitt. Picture: Heath Parkes-Hupton

Ten years ago Andrew Hession was so self conscious about his stutter he would rarely speak in public.

“I figured if I don’t talk, I can’t stutter,” he said.

A decade on he runs his own health coaching business, confidently presenting in front of strangers every day.

That’s because, since 2007, Mr Hession has been honing his public speaking skills twice per month as a member of Rooty Hill Toastmasters.

The club’s philosophy is simple – the more you’re taken out of your comfort zone, the more you will grow.

“I found an ad in the newspaper after my workmate recommended it to me,” Mr Hession said.

“I knew Toastmasters had been around for a long time, so I knew I just had to learn from my team members and take things slow.”

He said he still has “good days and bad days” with his speech, but without the skills he gained since joining the club, he wouldn’t possess the confidence to start his business.

Having achieved his goals, some would have left the club years ago. But he wants to pay it forward to new members.

“It’s a friendly environment, but I also enjoy seeing other people achieve things as well,”Mr Hession said.

“That’s what has kept me around for so long: the mentoring and seeing other people succeed.”

Recently appointed club coach Jason Cornelius met Mr Hession long before the duo joined Toastmasters later in life.

Mr Cornelius said Mr Hession’s transformation had been remarkable.

“We couldn’t get boo out of him before,” he said. “To see him now is amazing.”

Club president Eric Bayliss has been a member for two decades and has seen many people come and go.

“Some join because they want to do a speech at their daughter’s wedding and leave after a few months,” he said.

“I think the reason a lot of us stay longer is they enjoy encouraging those people and the friendships they make with the long-term members.

“The secret is the encouragement and support this club gives you.”