A one-hour documentary chronicling the history of the country’s first Toastmasters Club premiered at Fusion Superplex Cinemas, spotlighting the public speaking and leadership organization’s 53-year impact on The Bahamas and the brand’s expansion to more than 40 clubs nationwide.
Echoes of History took viewers inside the first Bahamas branch of Toastmasters, Club 1600 – from its birth in 1968 to the present. The film follows the largely untold story of the club’s origin and its legacy spanning Majority Rule, Independence and the modern-day Bahamas.
It was commissioned and directed by Shacoy Mullings, the club’s 2020/2021 president and produced by Elyse Media.
The much-anticipated, new release was a long time coming. The project had roots in Franklyn Winder’s 2013/2014 presidency. Then, he was assisted by Precision Media.
For the Echoes of History project, Mr Mullings interviewed nearly 40 persons and amassed 20 hours of footage which he then whittled down to 60 minutes.
“We wanted to take the audience back in time to understand how the club’s formation factored into the socio-political environment of the day. We also wanted to show the connection between Club 1600 and the creation of national speech contests and the vital roles that our members played in the growth and expansion of Toastmasters in The Bahamas,” explained Club President Shacoy Mullings.
The big screen premiere was an important undertaking for the club. The project underscores how far it has come and for some, where it should go next.
Those in attendance for the film’s debut were treated to a cocktail reception upon arrival to the SX3 theatre, a venue which normally seats 200. The guest list was capped at half that number to allow for social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event coincided with the club’s annual, Past Presidents’ Night, an evening when all past presidents are recognized for their contributions to the club.
Toastmasters’ dignitaries in attendance included past international director Anthony Longley, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM); former region advisor Antionette Fox, DTM; District 47 director for South Florida and The Bahamas, Barbara Strasdas, DTM; past district governor Godfrey Springer and club growth director Austen Canonica, DTM.
The black-tie event was created to resemble a night at the American Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars. The premiere drew more than 30 past presidents from the 1970s to 2019, including Edward Carey, DTM, the club’s co-founder and longest serving member.
A sophisticated yet exuberant affair, those in attendance were thrilled to bear witness to the launch of “a story that deserved to be told.”
“Tonight, is a night that will go down in Club 1600 history. President Shacoy Mullings has raised the bar very high tonight,” said Craig Ferguson, DTM.
Mr Winder agreed: “It was magical.”
The documentary screening was followed by an award ceremony honoring the past presidents of the club for their service. Mr Winder was bestowed the President of the Decade Award for his support and mentorship of club officers between 2010-2020.
Assisting with the presentation of awards were Verna Bonaby DTM, director of Division I, Mr Longley and Mrs Strasdas.
“I am always happy to be among Bahamians. Club 1600 has honored me tonight by letting me be a part of such a historic event. You have a very rich history of which you can be proud. Continue the good work that you are doing in your community,” said Mrs Strasdas, who announced Club 1600 was among only four clubs in the district to receive the Golden Gavel incentive award given to those who successfully complete Toastmasters International objectives.
She presented the award to President Mullings and his officers.
“Receiving the Golden Gavel Award is the ultimate crowning glory on what was a tough but rewarding year that began in the first lockdown brought about by the pandemic. I am happy that we completed all of the objectives we set out to achieve,” said Mr Mullings in accepting the award on behalf of his executive team and club members. Viewers can catch Echoes of History on YouTube on Sunday, June 27. It will also be available for streaming and download via Patreon as of Wednesday, June 30.
More photo highlights below: