I was honoured to have been chosen to be granted the first recipient of  of The Dereham Articulate Speakers award which was presented last night at a ceremony in Dereham.

Thank you to the group and to anyone who supported my nomination.

My speech in full

First of all thanks to Dereham Articulate Speakers and Toastmasters international for giving me this fantastic award. I am not sure how I was selected, but I am honoured to be the first recipient of the Dereham presentation and thank all of those who may have sponsored me. I admire the work the association does in encouraging more people to use the wonderful human gift of being able to communicate with each other better. 

As a young man I was incredibly shy, always at the edge of any gathering and really unsure how to make contact with those around me. Over time I worked in sales, became a preacher and councillor having to talk to people all the time, I still suffer from the shyness in many situations, as probably many of you do also, the work of Dereham Articulate Speakers will help overcome that or even speech impediments and the like. It will also give you the tools to become a better communicator – which applies to us all.

Just what is communication? It is many things, from a simple conversation, to a full blown debate. Or it may be just a hug.

In this case, and for this award, it refers to my use of mainly social media for communication as a councillor, so that is all I will talk about today. From the dozen or more mainstream electronic platforms, I use Twitter, Facebook and a Blog. Twitter is like a conversation you may have on the bus, or in a shop. It is casual and short lived, Facebook has a greater life and is like a real conversation with friends, Blog is a considered opinion to the world. All different and all with specific uses.

In my case, through my social media use I hope to present a more rounded picture of myself by including elements of my personal interests in all of my posts.

So Family are included, as is the fact I am a practicing Christian, an antique coin dealer, have interests in the countryside and so on. I link in to sites like Breckland for the pure political elements, and of course all comments are my own. I also respond to others and re-tweet.

Electronic communication is just like having a conversation, but dozens, hundreds or even tens of thousands can take part or listen in.

I use Social Media a lot to keep in touch politically with my Ward, or in the case of my Cabinet  job at Breckland with the wider community. In todays modern life it is important that anyone who seeks public, life needs to do more than hold a meeting once every four years. With 15 villages in my ward and 112 communities in Breckland it is a convenient way to let interested people know what you are doing on a daily basis

Well every day really is what you need to do with Social Media.

Before the advent of mass social media I made sure I was attending as many parish meetings as possible, I walked the streets in my ward and spoke to all I met, I still do this of course, but it is all enhanced by Twitter, Facebook and Blog posts. It would be easy to say “I do it to get re-elected” and that is al least partly true but, like many others I like to share my opinions with others, and no doubt will always do this.

Who to, – To anyone who is interested actually, but I seek to target the people of Upper Wensum Ward and Breckland in particular.

I was born in an age when communication was mainly just word of mouth or the daily newspaper. We had radio, but TV was rare until the coronation in 1953 when I remember going to a friends house to watch the event in a darkened room. We got one about 1955/6. Things like telephones followed and around 1986 I got my first mobile telephone. To use it in Norfolk you had to find a hill with a tree – climb the tree and hope for a connection. I used it for work, and if I got a call whilst out with Jacqueline she would walk away from me in embarrassment .

By the mid ’90’s it was a common thing, and today we mostly have these devices which allow us to keep in touch with voice, with writing, with pictures. Which will tell us how to get home, or specify where we are on the planet. We can be tracked with them, they will read to us. The communication potential is just fantastic and beyond the wildest dreams of my 9 year old self who first saw a moving picture of the queen in a box in 1953.

Three ways, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging. but backed up by being available, always!!

I still believe in personal face to face conversation. I still write letters, but I also find myself texting to someone in the next room.

So has electronic social media ruined the art of communication? I don’t think so. but it has changed it. As long as humans have a need to live, and to love, and to exist in a society situation we will need person to person communication skills, but I am very glad and privileged to have been born in an age where this can be expanded and to be able to contact just about anyone, who is just about anywhere, at just about any time.

It is my solemn and sincere hope that despite all of this texting, telephoning, emailing and other forms we do still keep talking directly to one another