Your Emcees

Sonia Araujo

Sonia joined Toastmasters at London Cardinals in 2013. Over the years, she served as VPM, VPE and President. She also served as Pathways Ambassador after a short stint in California during the Pathways pilot. She is currently a member of Excalibur Speakers in London. 

Sonia has always had a thing for the stage, through music and dance. Toastmasters has taken that vocation to new heights, with learnings along the way in every aspect of public speaking and communication. Sonia was the MC at the online D91 Conference 2020, and returns this year as Entertainment Director with a team of MCs.

Outside Toastmasters, Sonia’s career spans over 20 years, focusing on software for pharma and healthcare. She has a passion for helping patients get the right medicines, quickly and safely. Sonia also has a passion for living life to the max. She can’t wait to go back to hiking up snowy high mountains, meeting people face to face and enjoying all that London has to offer!

MC for opening ceremonies and pre-conference soirees

Lynne Cantor

‘You’ll love it’ said a friend, as she was taken to her first Toastmasters meeting. She wasn’t wrong. Lynne soon enrolled onto the committee and her Toastmasters’ journey began – club President, Area director, District winner, DTM achiever and so much more. 

Outside of Toastmasters, she has used her public speaking skills to MC at conferences, facilitate workshops and promote the charity she works for.

Lynne has travelled the world both for work and pleasure visiting more than 70 different countries, including Singapore where she lived for two years. Having absorbed all the various cultures and foods she has experienced, she loves nothing more than experimenting in her kitchen creating fusions of East and West.

MC for Main Stage on Saturday 1st May

Monika Swiderska

Monika is a Geospatial Data Scientist and a self-proclaimed geek. She joined Toastmasters in April 2014, volunteered by her boyfriend who dragged her to a meeting claiming that better communication skills is what she needed. He wasn’t wrong. Since that day, she completed her DTM and served in a club committee and beyond club roles, including being President of Excalibur Speakers and Area Director for L16.

She sees her biggest achievement in Toastmasters is the use of geospatial data and maps in the works of the District Alignment Committee, which allowed the creation of area L16 and Division D in the past 2 years. In October 2020 Monika was also a Conference Chair for TechMasters, an online conference that answered the need for having a Toastmasters space to practise technical speeches that would be evaluated by technical people.

Currently, she is a member of Data Science Speakers, where amongst fellow geeks and techy people, she cultivates her communication and leadership toolkit. 

In her spare time she enjoys a round of Hearthstone Battlegrounds, Zeus or Civ6… but only when she is not playing with her 2 guinea pigs.

MC for Learning Stage on Saturday 1st May

Andy Hessey

Andy is a man who wears many hats, all of which are worn at a jaunty angle.

A Toastmaster of 5 years, he is part of two clubs, Berkhamsted Speakers in Hertfordshire and Pegasus Speakers Advanced Club in Milton Keynes.  He is also known to many as the District 91 Zoom Troll who runs the weekly District Webinar series and also providing Zoom Master skills to many Division and District events.  Andy is also infamous for his bizarre, off-the-wall table topics.

Outside of Toastmasters, Andy presents the live daily breakfast show for Buckinghamshire community radio, Wycombe Sound and also runs his own IT infrastructure consultancy as his day-job from his home in Wembley Park, London.

LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/andyhessey
Twitter – @andyrhessey 

MC for Growing Stage on Saturday 1st May

Kavita Dulai

Kavita is passionate about sales, clear communication, and storytelling. 

Sales are the oldest profession around and she believes everyone can and does sell.  Unfortunately, sales sometimes have bad connotations. Her mission in life is to destroy some of that negativity around sales. 

Kavita has won multiple prizes in her sales career including trips to the USA. She is also a Director of a Property Company and has 3 teenage kids.

She Joined TM in 2012 and is a DTM. Kavita is a member of Excalibur Speakers, DCOM, and Watford (Serving as a VPPR or part of the VPPR Team at all the clubs).

 MC for Inspiring Stage on Saturday 1st May

Gagan Singh

Gagan Singh is an entrepreneur coach. 

He is currently coaching passionate visionaries to start their own businesses. When not coaching he’s making YouTube videos on Leadership, or training for his Ironman triathlon.

MC for Main Stage on Sunday 2nd May

Andy Blake

Andy is a founding member of PMI (Project Management Institute) UK TM club in London. PMI is a global non-profit organization, formed to develop the Project, and Programme Management skills of its members. Andy has held club committee roles such as President and VP Membership. 

Immersing himself in the Toastmasters experience, Andy has competed at the 2019 D91 District Finals for both the Humorous and Table Topics contests, was the D91 Club Ambassador of the Year in 2019, and served as an Area Director. Away from Toastmasters, he can be found polishing up his serve on the local tennis courts. 

MC for Learning Stage on Sunday 2nd May

Janet Alkema

Janet Alkema, DTM, has been a member of Farnham Speakers since 2012 and a charter member of Godalming Speakers since 2018. She has served two terms as Area 14 Director, was Division A Director in 2018 and now serves as Chair of the District Alignment Committee.

Janet is a Time Management and Productivity Coach, and loves nothing better than to help entrepreneurs and small business owners become better organised, overcome the temptation to procrastinate, and stretch themselves that little bit more to grow their businesses.

MC for Growing Stage on Sunday 2nd May

Vaneshen Mootoosamy

Vaneshen is a Civil Engineer, a Speaker, and a Single Dad. 

Vaneshen is passionate about collaboration and this epitomises his career as a Civil Engineer delivering large Infrastructure Projects on the Railway. Vaneshen helps leaders collaborate better to turbocharge performance, productivity, and profitability. Vaneshen’s tagline is: Together We’re Stronger!

Vaneshen joined Toastmasters in 2016 at The Speakers of Croydon. Vaneshen has served as Vice President of Education and Area Director. Vaneshen is currently serving as D91 Division H Director. The Club, Area, and Division achieved President’s Distinguished while Vaneshen was in the role.

MC for Inspiring Stage on Sunday 2nd May

Annie Pritchard

Annie’s dream was to become a dancer and be on the stage, but life for her took a different path. With over 22 years’ experience as a recruitment and coaching consultant, Annie has spent most of her working life helping people with their careers. Working mostly within the creative fields she loves developing workshops and exercises and working with her clients to realise their growth and potential. 

Annie runs weekly improvisation classes – for more information please email annie.pritchard@way-forward.co.uk

MC for Entertainment breaks on Saturday 1st May, and pre-conference soirees

Sarah Beckwith

Sarah has been a member of Toastmasters since 2013.  She is currently a member of Society Speakers and 104 London Debaters. She has been VPPR and VPE at St Paul’s Speakers and was the 2019/21 District Parliamentarian.

With a background in real estate, Sarah now has a portfolio career; combining her professional and not-for-profit experience as a communication skills trainer and non-executive director on various boards.

MC for Entertainment breaks on Saturday 1st May, and pre-conference soirees

Glen Savage

Glen Savage, aka The Purple Speaker, is a multi-award winning public speaker, qualified public speaking teacher, and voice coach, as well as a conference MC and workshop presenter. He is the founder of Purple Speaking Academy. Why purple? Because it’s the colour of Passion, Power and Magic and that’s what he tries to bring to his clients and audiences.

He has a passion to help people to find their voice to inform, inspire and influence others with impact. He helps people to step up, speak clear and stand out. An avid lover of stories and their power, Glen teaches the science and art of storytelling for speakers to help make a serious talk digestible and memorable.

MC for Entertainment breaks on Saturday 1st May, and pre-conference soirees

Jill Segal

A passionate lover of the performing and visual arts, Jill forsook the more solid pursuit of performing in the courtroom wearing a distinctive wig and gown for the precarious world of arts administration. 

She was the founding director of an agency handling the international careers of classical musicians, has produced plays on the London fringe, numerous concerts in the UK and abroad, extensively fundraised for the arts and was the Executive Director of an Italian music festival in 2019. 

Words are Jill’s ‘thing’. She baffles many with over-complicated vocabulary in her Toastmaster ‘performances’ and recently published a selection of poems that she spewed out over the past years.

MC for Entertainment break on Sunday 2nd May, and pre-conference soirees

Meera Das

Meera joined Toastmasters in March 2018 and subsequently became the President of her home club, Wharf Speakers, in Division K. 

She lives in London and is currently the Area Director in Area K59 which covers Corporate and Community clubs in Canary Wharf. She is also the Club Secretary at the Ace of Clubs, Advanced Club.

Meera recently debuted alongside her Area Director colleague as an MC for the Division K Spring Contest and delivered a glittering performance, literally!

MC for Entertainment break on Sunday 2nd May

Anja Sims

After far too many years at a desk Anja switched keyboard & mouse for dumbbells & resistance bands. Since then she has been helping her clients get fitter and happier in their bodies with Pilates and strength exercise. 

Not a spring chicken herself anymore, she really appreciates the importance of remaining active and strong and keeping a bounce in one’s step as the decades tick on. For her, movement is one of the super boosters for the body, together with balanced nutrition, self-care and sleep. 

A Toastmaster of over 5 years, Anja draws on her creative speaking skills to present new ways to get joints mobilised and bodies moving, keeping the mind engaged with imagery and a sprinkling of storytelling here and there. 

Backup MC

Ilaria Vilkelis

Ilaria joined Daybreakers of Westlake Toastmasters in California Cardinals in 2001. Over the years, she served as VPE, and President in several clubs and competed up to Division level. She co-founded four clubs, two of which in Lausanne Switzerland before taking a hiatus from Toastmasters in 2007.

She re-joined in 2019 and soon became the VPE of Experience French. She then joined Excalibur Speakers taking on the role of VPE and she has guided the Club during its transition online. She is currently serving as President of Excalibur Speakers and Area Director for Area L16. A proud President of a strong club, and the proud mother of the youngest member of Excalibur, her son Robert.

Outside Toastmasters, Ilaria’s career spans over 30 years, focusing on management consulting, executive coaching and leadership training. She currently works with small yet mighty businesses that are looking to scale up quickly. She is particularly interested in the future of work and the transition to anytime/anywhere working.

A keen photographer, when she is not working (a rare occasion), she loves walking, listening to world music, and discovering less known parts of London.

Backup MC