Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking — Cairns, Australia

Meet our Members

Our club is made up of a fun and dynamic bunch of people from a wide variety of life experiences, occupations and age groups. Have a little peek at some our profiles here, but we’d love you to get to know us better at a meeting.

Speakers in Demand

Our experienced members are often being called upon to speak at professional functions. We have spoken for some amazing organisations such as Facebook, Australian Institute Management, Queensland Government and many more!

It goes to show that Toastmasters training can certainly help you launch a speaking career!

Youhana Haider CC


Youhana Haider

My name is Youhana Friday Haider, and I was born in Khartoum, Sudan. When I was ten years old, my family migrated to Egypt due to civil war between the north and south of the country. In 2003 my family and I were granted a humanitarian visa to come to Australia. Currently I’m an Australian citizen and I speak two languages: English and Arabic. One thing I have learnt in my Journey of Life is that, the world is full of diversity, many races, different cultures and different ways of life. As human beings, we have certain things in common; we all have dreams, hope, love, fears and challenges in life. If we can use our heart instead of our mind, we can understand each other better. I joined Toastmasters because I believe in the famous phrase “Iron sharpens Iron” – in order to be great one must associate with the greats in the business. My goal is to develop my leadership skills, so that I may be able to inspire other young leaders in my community.


Celia Berrell ACB CL

Vice President Education

Celia has held a variety of Committee roles including President, VPE & VPPR, Treasurer & Secretary.  She won the annual I Love Cairns speech contest in 2009 with The Best of Both Worlds and with A Golden Opportunity in 2010.  She delivered her speech “The Biggest Butterflies” at the 2016 Humourosity Speechfest.

“When I moved to Cairns in 2006, I decided that joining a Club would be a great way to make new friends. Also, as I present science education through poetry at schools, I needed to get rid of that ‘fear factor’. I couldn’t have achieved a Television Interview without the practice gained from regularly attending Club meetings and entering speech contests. Toastmasters continues to fulfil my expectations and strengthen my resolve.”

Celia’s Science Rhymes website showcases scientific fun and facts packed in poems.  Her educational poetry is published in school text books, science magazines and in her self-published book, Celia Berrell’s Science Rhymes.  These resources for teachers, students and parents are enjoyed around the world.


Nicky Jurd DTM

Nicky JurdVPPR

Nicky joined Toastmasters in 1999 and has held a plethora of Leadership roles including Club VPPR, Secretary, President, Area 32 Governor, Area 9 Governor, Northern Division Governor and District 69 Public Relations Officer.

“I’m a friendly and approachable local geek who owns a web development and internet marketing firm. Needless to say, communication is not considered the computer geek’s best asset, so I joined Toastmasters to improve my business communication skills.

I’m now an enthusiastic public speaker and hold semi-regular workshops on a range of internet-related topics aimed at small business owners.  I’ve found Toastmasters has given me the confidence to be more chatty at networking functions and answer questions in a more organised fashion. I don’t stumble over my words like I used to.

I enthusiastically recommend Toastmasters to any person who wants to overcome their nerves when speaking to others or just to polish their performance.”

Nicky, with partner Kaj, is Managing Director of the largest web development company in North Queensland, Precedence.

Hazel Jeremy

Vice President Membership

Hazel’s welcoming nature and storytelling talents will add an extra spark of warmth to connect with first-time guests.


Inga Kamps


Inga delivered her IceBreaker speech and agreed to take on the role of Secretary straight afterwards.  Thanks Inga!

Greg Okulov CC


Greg Okulov 2016

Greg moved to Cairns in 2016 to begin a new career in education. He is currently teaching Year 5 at Trinity Beach State School. He originally joined Toastmasters to gain confidence in speaking in front of groups and used to be a member of the Sunshine Coast Club, Inside Edge Toastmasters (2011). He has chosen to continue on his Toastmasters journey with Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club.



Kane Hart

Sergeant At Arms

We are looking forward to hearing Kane deliver his first speech.  In the meantime he has kindly agree to be the Club’s SAA.


Nimesh Fernando CC

Past President & Area 32 Director

Nimesh Fernando

Nimesh joined Townsville University Toastmasters in 2015 to improve his presentation skills for his thesis. After graduating, he continued his journey as a Toastmaster to listen to people’s stories, share experiences, to mentor and contribute as a leader.   Since moving to Cairns early 2016, he has been Treasurer and then President at Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club. This year, Nimesh is Area 32 Director. With his experience from prior leadership roles in Toastmasters, competing in public speaking events and cultural competencies from travelling and living aboard, Nimesh brings enthusiasm and new ideas to all the Clubs in our area.

Kaj Haffenden ACS ALB

Kaj Haffenden

A past Area 32 Governor, Kaj has previously held the roles of President, VPE, Secretary and Treasurer for Mt Sheridan Toastmasters.  He was Convenor for the Northern District Conference in Cairns earlier this year and MC for the hugely successful “Humourosity Speechfest” in June 2015 & May 2016. A wizard of impeccable capabilities, he was recently awarded a ceremonious pin to acknowledge his fifteen years as a Toastmaster.

“I was a Toastmaster many years ago and joined again at the delightful Mt Sheridan Toastmasters club in 2008.  And am thoroughly pleased with myself for doing so — I’d forgotten how rusty one can become after an absence!  In my spare time I am a managing director of local Cairns web-design and web-hosting companies.  Toastmasters provides the polish I need to effectively conduct meetings, manage staff and run seminars.”

 James Downham CC

James became a member in August 2015 in order to help prepare for delivering a “best man’s” speech for a dear friend.  Since then, his public speaking skills have helped him shine with his own wedding speech (delivered in English and Japanese) and encouraged him to take on leadership roles, such as Club VPE (2016-17) and speaking roles at his local church.

 Joy Zahner CC

A music teacher and wonderful harpist, Joy decided to join Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club in April 2014. Two years later, she became VPPR and VPM.  She brings joy to many people through her beautiful music. You can find out more on her website Musique Funtastique.


Gary Pearce

Gary began visiting our Club in 2016, but didn’t become a member until he was comfortable enough to brave speaking in front of our audience in April 2017.  He has recently delivered his IceBreaker speech and we are all looking forward to what he has to share next.

Packie Sou

Pakie joined on her first visit and has already delivered some Table Topics speeches.  We hope it won’t be too long before we hear her IceBreaker speech.





Anne McKinnon DTM

If it wasn’t for Anne McKinnon, Mt Sheridan Toastmasters probably wouldn’t exist today.  Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club was founded by Lillian Edwards ATM CL in 2005.  Lillian had been President of the Atherton Toastmasters Club before it closed.  Chartering the Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club was one of the projects  Lillian achieved for her DTM.   Of the original founding members of the Club, Anne McKinnon took over virtually all aspects of the management and running of the Club as Lillian became unwell in 2006.Anne was President, VPE and VPM all rolled into one for the first couple of years, when membership numbers were particularly low.Even when the Club gained sufficient members to operate with a full Committee, Anne was still very much a Mentor for everyone.  Anne gained her DTM in 2010, before relocating to Brisbane where she joined three Toastmasters Clubs.  Thank you Anne for your dedication!


Rhondda Walters CTM

Rhondda Walters

Rhondda Walters was there at Mt Sheridan Toastmaster’s Club’s inception in 2005, when the Club was created under the guidance of Lillian Edwards. 

Back then, Rhondda took on the role of VP Education.  After finishing extensive studies to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, she became VPE again for the 2011-12 term, then Treasurer for 2013.  




Candice Smee

Candice Smee 2016

Candice was our Club President from July-September 2016.  “For the better part of my childhood, my career aspirations were simple.  I wanted to be Nancy Drew, that young fictitious female investigator.  The affluent lifestyle of Nancy, with her active social, volunteer, and sleuthing schedule, required no apparent need for the acquisition of job skills and therefore school, to me, became a mere manner to waste away the hours between sleuthing activities. Therefore, perhaps it’s only fitting that I became a Senior English and Drama Teacher.  Today, my career aspirations are still simple – to provide inspiration to achieve new feats of creativity as the pseudonym Carolyn Keene and her creation Nancy Drew did for me.”


Maxine Turner ACB CL

Maxine Turner small

Maxine held the dual role of Sergeant At Arms and Vice President Education 2015-16.  She is a lady of many talents.  One of her hobbies is Maxine’s Millinery, creating hand crafted hats and fascinators.  She joined Mt Sheridan Toastmasters in March 2014, but has been a supportive visitor to the Club over previous years.  She delivered her first ten speeches for the Competent Communicator award in twelve months, created innovative table displays when our Club hosted the 2015 Northern Division Conference and has since completed her  Advanced Communicator Bronze and Competent Leadership awards.


Brenton Walker CC

Brenton Walker

Brenton became a Toastmaster in Ingham.  When he relocated to Cairns in 2010, he chose the Mt Sheridan Club.  He has represented our Club in International & Humorous Speech contest, and took to the CoCA stage for the 2015 Humourosity Speechfest.  Brenton has a touching knack for adding humour to his presentations on life-coaching issues.  In 2013, Brenton took on the challenge of being our Club’s Vice President Education, then President in 2014.

Marilyn Marsh-Booth CC

DSCN0536Marilyn joined Inside Edge Toastmasters in Kawana on the Sunshine Coast in 2012 and attended 2 other clubs as a visitor whilst on The Coast. Returning to Cairns in 2013, she joined Cairns Toastmasters and then Mount Sheridan, becoming our Vice President Public Relations.

Before relocating back to the Sunshine Coast, she became famous within our Club for sharing aviation experiences through her presentations and impromptu speaking.  Marilyn was always happy to take on any meeting role at short notice.

Michael McGarry ACG ALB

Michael McGarryMichael’s first speech at Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club was so impressive, he was invited to present it again at the Northern District Conference a week later in March 2011.  Michael joined our club Committee in 2012 as President.  His goals were to ensure our Club increased its membership numbers and achieved Distinguished Club status.  Job done!  In 2013 he inspired other Clubs to go from strength to strength as Area 32 Governor.  2014-15 he took on the role of Club Secretary whilst supporting & coaching a second Toastmasters Club in Area 32.

“I’m a long-suffering NSW and Parramatta Eels football fan who couldn’t remember when my teams last won.  I still believed that one year …”

Even though Michael has a full-time government job, he also finds time to run Precise Online Marketing.  He says he gets a lot of enjoyment from coaching small businesses on social media marketing.  See www.facebook.com/preciseonlinemarketing.


Cheryl McLeod CC CL

Cheryl McLeodAfter joining Toastmasters in 2009, Cheryl took on the responsibilities of Treasurer for the Club from 2010 to 2012.  She became the President in 2013.

“I am a mum, sister, daughter, partner, taxi driver and more. I work in the office of a mechanic’s business 5 days a week.  In my spare time I make jewellery and teach beading. I joined Toastmasters to gain confidence speaking in front of people, communicate effectively and work on my leadership skills.”

See Cheryl’s Facebook page Crystal Unicorn Creations to view examples of her beading work.


Rod Sheather CC

After joining the Club in 2009, Rod became Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club’s Sergeant at Arms in 2010 and then President in 2011-2012. He can be a delightfully colourful character, particularly since he took up wearing Hawaiian shirts whilst playing the Ukelele!

Rod Sheather is the Queensland Chair of the Australian College of Ambulance Professionals and has a talent for making everyone feel welcome and putting people at ease. He’s a great storyteller too!


Micheline Fitzpatrick

Micheline was the Club’s Sergeant at Arms in 2011-2012 and Vice President Membership in 2012-2013. 

She joined Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club in 2009 and rarely misses a meeting.


Craig Turner

Craig TurnerWith his technical know-how Craig provided invaluable assistance with PA and microphone management at our Area Conferences and other major events.  He was our Club’s SAA until he left to pursue a degree in Brisbane.

“Hi! My name is Craig. I have been a member of Mt Sheridan Toastmasters since 2009 when I took on the role of Sergeant at Arms. This position entails making sure that the meeting runs smoothly and is on time. At the meetings I always enjoy myself and by the end of the night I’ve learnt something new. Some of the skills I’ve learnt are: how to research, speak on the spot, proper pronunciation and the art of debating. In short, I would recommend Toastmasters to all.”

Michael Westacott

Michael WestacottMichael joined in 2009 and became one of our Club’s most efficient Secretaries in 2012.  Perhaps his love of mathematics helps him have orderly thought patterns!  In 2013 he took on the role of VPM, before departing Cairns to pursue his mathematical studies.

“I first heard of Toastmasters International when reading time management and productivity expert Brian Tracy’s book Time Power. I joined Mt Sheridan Toastmasters in 2009. I moved to Brisbane in 2010, however I re-joined Mt Sheridan Toastmasters at the beginning of 2012. While I have benefited from all of the segments in our meetings, Table Topics (a segment of our meeting devoted to Impromptu Speaking) has been the part of Toastmasters that I have found most valuable. The value of learning how to speak confidently and proficiently in an “on the spot” situation is hard to overstate. One of the aspects that I like about our club is that while we are very serious about helping each other improve our public speaking skills, we like to do this
in a fun way – our meetings are never dull! We love to have a good laugh and a
lot of fun!”

John Lizzio CC

John Lizzio decided to become a dual Toastmasters member in 2007.  He was already a member of the Cairns City Toastmasters Club, but decided to join Mt Sheridan as well because our Club had a reputation for providing detailed and effective speech evaluations.  He was our Club’s VPPR in 2009-2010.  John has remained very supportive of our Club, even though he was unable to attend our Club meetings when they changed from Tuesday to Thursday evenings.

“Before I joined Toastmasters, I used to spend my waking hours playing with my digital camera.  Now I spend my time with some really cool people while polishing my skills in presenting a tremendous spiel. Perhaps even my speiling will improve! I’m hoping to improve my impromptu speaking and leadership skills at Mt Sheridan Toastmasters. I’m a keen hand at 500 and enjoy a good pillow fight.”

Antón Mac Suibhne

Anton became a member in August 2010 and quickly took over the role of VPPR.  Unfortunately by 2011 work commitments meant he was unable to attend meetings regularly.  However Anton has remained very supportive of our Club and was integral in negotiations that have provided the Club with our current venue.  Thanks very much Anton.

“Although in my worklife, chairing meetings and leading discussion is not a problem, like many people, when it came to standing up and delivering a prepared presentation or speach, I struggled. After being recommended to visit a Toastmasters club, I went to Mt. Sheridan and immediately joined after the first meeting.Mt. Sheridan Toastmasters provides an avenue for people to develop their public speaking skills and overcome their fears in a supportive and friendly environment”.

Antón in a Technical Services manager with Cairns Regional Council. To learn more about Cairns Regional Council, the Cairns Region, it’s services or useful community information such as Cyclone Prepardness go to http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/


Leisel Pisani

Leisel joined Toastmasters in October 2009 and became Vice President Membership in 2010.

MSTC-02092010-023“As a marriage celebrant I want to ensure I can tell the story of each couple’s journey in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Toastmasters allows me to enhance the experience of those couples embarking on their life’s journey together”.

Leisel is a qualified marriage celebrant and Director of Our Ceremony, which specialises in crafting a ceremony to suit each client. ‘Our Ceremony’ also provides a service for Naming Ceremonies, Graduations and even Extreme Ceremonies!


Sam Marino

Sam joined the Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club in 2009 as part of his preparation for Council roles and was Vice President Education in 2010-2011.

Sam Marino“Like most people I had a fear of public speaking. Toastmasters has given me the tools and experience to think quickly on my feet and to be a more effective speaker.”

Sam is the Managing Director of Beacon Lighting Cairns. Beacon Lighting provides the latest in innovative architectural, building and environmental lighting for commercial and residential solutions and is a ‘Lighting Council Australia 2010′ Member.

We need an audience to help us improve our speaking habits, so please come along as a guest to one of our meetings and watch us in action. We look forward to meeting you too.

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