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February 2024
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Acknowledging Those Who Have Made a Difference

By Morag Mathieson, DTM


Toastmasters International President Morag Mathieson
Morag Mathieson, DTM

At almost every District 59 conference gala I have attended, an elderly gentleman with a walking cane has taken to the dance floor, and is immediately joined by others who share his joy.

Peter Kenton, of Paris, now in his 90s, dances with the same enthusiasm he brings to most things in life, including his involvement in Toastmasters. He was part of the team who created the Continental Council of European Toastmasters in 1979 that eventually led to the creation of District 59 in 2003. He started the first bilingual Toastmasters club in Europe, has stepped up to club and District leadership whenever needed, and has made himself available to guide and mentor others.

He has always been particularly supportive of members who wanted to grow Toastmasters in their country and frequently participated in events and offered guidance. He recently offered his support and involvement to a Youth Leadership Program in Paris.

His significant contributions over many years were recognized by our organization this year when he received a Presidential Citation. When I think of people who have inspired me in Toastmasters, Peter is certainly one of those who spring to mind. He is a hero of my story.

As we approach the end of 2023, I’ve been reflecting and acknowledging people who have had an impact on me: whether they’ve supported me or challenged my thinking. I’ve also reflected on my own achievements.

  • What were my goals for the year in Toastmasters, at work, and for pleasure, such as travel goals with family and friends?
  • How far did I get in achieving them?
  • Where did I find the greatest moments of enjoyment and of frustration?
  • Who helped me in my progress and how will I show my appreciation?
  • How can I pay forward the support I received to others that they may benefit?

Reflections help us acknowledge the progress we’re making, the steps we still need to take, and the people who inspire and support us along the way.

What about you, will you make time for reflection before we reach 2024?

Think about who has made a difference for you, your club, your District, or Toastmasters International, and would appreciate hearing how they helped you.

The Presidential Citation Peter received is a high honor, presented to members who have shown continual support and dedication to the organization. Peter couldn’t receive the award in person, and so, to show their appreciation for all he has done, some friends from District 59 organized a special event to celebrate him and his contributions.

Watching Peter over the years has boosted my spirit and fueled my momentum. How can we be the person who inspires others, a hero in their story?


Morag Mathieson, DTM

2023–2024 International President



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