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Why does a semi-retired septuagenarian bother to have a website?

As the saying goes, ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time.’ At that time, more than ten years ago, I was about to retire and had no intention of retiring. If that makes sense. So I thought I needed a website. And I still do.

A BOOK ABOUT WEDDING SPEECHES? 

Weddings ‘as we know them’ have been on hold for a long time. As they gradually return without restrictions on numbers, wedding speeches will be back. And there are few occasions that are more challenging for a speaker. (A friend of mine told me that he wasn’t nervous ahead of his elder daughter’s wedding: I told him he’s not normal.)

Public speaking is widely accepted as one of the world’s top three phobias; and a wedding is all that, plus all the emotion of the day. So that’s why I wrote a book about it.

The Wedding Speech Handbook is available in a variety of ways. One convenient way to get it is from Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle form. There’s a link in the sidebar.

The paperback is also available to order ‘from all good bookshops’,  as they say. That includes Foyles and Waterstones. Its ISBN is 978-1-9993442-0-7. (The edition in their systems is not the Amazon edition, in case the bookshop asks. As you might already know, simply mentioning the word ‘Amazon’ could get you kicked out of your favourite bookshop.)

The book’s cover features a cartoon by David Lewis, showing a best man who’s clearly a wannabe standup comedian. It’s a familiar wedding speech pitfall; he’s having fun, oblivious to the horrified reactions of the rest of the top table. I am in awe of this cartoonist’s ability to show those varied facial expressions with just a few pen-strokes.

GENERAL GUFF ABOUT ME

I’m an oldie who devotes his so-called ‘Third Age’ to a so-called ‘portfolio career’ (acknowledgements to Charles Handy, who coined the term) drawing on personal and professional experience. 

I write nonfiction.  Back to the Black (first edition 2010, second edition 2015) was about a financial crisis I had in the ’90s and what I learned from it.

The Wedding Speech Handbook, published in 2018,  drew on my experience of public speaking, and of training and coaching speakers, over the preceding 40 years; and on the pleasure of giving the Father of the Bride speech at my elder daughter’s wedding in 2017.

I spend some of my time coachingI specialise in working with people who are approaching retirement, or are already retired but bored. It’s been said that many people spend more time planning a holiday than planning their retirement. And the first retirement coach I ever met (this was in Canada, where it’s been a thing for years) told me ‘in my experience, the people who are happiest in retirement are not the ones with the money. They’re the ones with a plan.’

For some years I’ve also been helping people who need to perform ‘on stage’ from time to time, whether that means a conference platform, a theatre stage or, more usually, the top table at a wedding.

My coaching is now also offered on a ‘Pay What You Want’ basis. If you want to know how that works, send me a message and I’ll tell you how it operates. I’m more motivated by helping people than making money.

I’m a radio host on BCfm, Bristol’s excellent community radio station, of which I’m a trustee and board member. I’m also a speaker and a voice actor who also makes occasional forays on to screen or stage. 

MORE GUFF ABOUT ME

A native of Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, I spent my school days at St George’s College, Weybridge and then frittered away my university years at Imperial College, London. 

I then had a 25-year career in the chemical industry, eventually ending up as Managing Director of a sales and marketing company in the Swedish-owned Holmen group.

After my employer Holmen LignoTech, the chemicals division, was bought by Borregaard Industries of Norway, I left to set up and run a training consultancy, where I designed and delivered courses for major corporate clients in Norway, also some in Sweden, in business communication skills – e.g. how to deliver impactful presentations or run effective meetings – combined with polishing English-language competence. It was very gratifying that Borregaard, the competitor who’d initiated that change in my life by buying my former employer, trusted me enough to become my first client. They remained so for five years or so and also introduced me to other Norwegian organisations.

I then spent five years working with a major UK health charity; first in community fundraising and then as a media spokesman.

Nowadays I live in the great city of Bristol, in the West of England, avoiding retirement (I prefer the word ‘reinvention’) by working on a variety of projects.