Profile of a Professional Toastmaster
Richard Birtchnell, a true English Toastmaster, has run hundreds of live events in the last 30 years including shop openings, fashion shows, sales conferences and seminars, AGMs, City presentations, trade missions, charity balls, weddings (of all cultures, Hindu to Christian, Muslim to Jewish) you name it and he’s organised it.
Clients, guests, delegates, VIPs and diplomats, on business and pleasure, have benefited from Richard’s skills as an event producer and director. So when you hire him as your Toastmaster, you get more than a professional Toastmaster. He’s not only a master of logistics with an eye for detail, a sympathetic ear, a strong clear voice and a safe pair of hands ? but an event expert with decades of experience.
His skills are particularly useful when guests number in the hundreds. He will successfully calm and guide them, whilst setting just the right tone and level of formality that your occasion demands.
Richard Birtchnell is a Past President of the well-respected and admired Society of London Toastmasters, whose credentials can be summarised:
- It is the original professional Toastmasters’ organisation, formed in 1961
- Qualified members operate to highest possible standards
- Their knowledge of protocol, banqueting etiquette and skills are unrivalled
- Its members are retained by the most prestigious clients
- They attend the finest international venues
- They are engaged for the most important functions
Richard is also a Freeman of the City of London.
To find out a little about the origins of the Toastmaster, Richard has written an article on his blog about the History of The Toastmaster.
Contact Richard Birtchnell, a professional Toastmaster, on 020 7730 3725 or email him to see what he can bring to your event.
Richard Birtchnell : A Brief Biography
Waypoints of a life which so far has been a series of lucky accidents
Early days prior to 1962
Educated at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire and University de Poitiers in France, became a temporary member of French pop group. Did not believe this to be a long-term career, but my French became fluent.
First jobs 1962-73
Joined C&A, the clothing retailer, as management trainee, spent two years in Holland and two in UK, becoming a Buyer. Low pay, long hours but good training and thanks to them, I learned to speak Dutch. Moved to Jaeger, considerably more upmarket fashion retailer and spent eight years running stores and areas, ending up as Retail Operations Director.
Corporate life 1973-89
Top Shop had just started and I was approached to be its promotion manager and in the ensuing 16 years, rose to Advertising and Sales Promotion Director of its owner the Burton Group, which embraced or invented other retail identities such as Top Man, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Principles, Evans acquiring Debenhams and Harvey Nichols on the way. Working with the legendary Sir Ralph Halpern, during what is now seen as the golden age of fashion retailing in the 70s and 80s, I would organise fashion shows and conferences for all the brands store management, corporate presentations, AGMs, 600 celebrity shop openings, in addition to running the various press offices, sales promotion and advertising campaigns. I was also the sponsor and occasional judge of the Miss World Contest in the 80s.
The entrepreneur 1989-2001
I so enjoyed the event management side of my job and left the Burton Group to acquire Forum Communications Ltd which stages events, commercial conferences, trade missions, fashion shows, parties and charity Balls. In the 90s I was also contracted to the event management company 2Cs Communications.
The Toastmaster 2001-
For so long, I have been used to announcing; “Lunch is about to be served” that I thought I could enjoy an additional career out of being a professional MC, bringing to the role all that I had learned from handling people and events. So now it is at weddings, and for royalty, politicians, celebrities, diplomats, City dignitaries and charity balls where I now make the announcements. I am a past President of the Society of London Toastmasters.
I play the church organ and fly single-engine aircraft, though not at the same time. And likewise, I love cooking and tennis. I take time off Toastmastering to travel the world watching ATP and WTA high-level tournaments.
I have been married well over 40 years to a Dane; we live in Chelsea and we are blessed with two grown-up children and two grandchildren.
The London Toastmaster’s Fun Side
Below you can find out more about the “fun” side of my life