Newbury Speakers club originally chartered as the Anglo American Toastmasters Club, at what was then Foley Lodge (now the Vineyard) in Stockcross in the autumn of 1984. The club was started by Captain Randall Lanning of the USAF, stationed at Greenham Common, following a meeting he attended at Maidenhead Speakers.
Maidenhead Speakers had started in 1983, but with only a handful of members it closed for the summer and then restarted on the 3rd October the same year. One of the people to attend the restart meeting was Captain Lanning and he was so enthused by the meeting that he vowed that he would have another go at starting a Toastmasters club at the Greenham Common airbase, having tried before but been unable to keep the club going.
When he scheduled the first meeting of the new club at the airbase, early in 1984, the late George Gallagher-Daggitt (Oxford Speakers) and Norman Rhodes (Maidenhead Speakers) attended to help. By that time Captain Lanning had already chosen the club’s name – Anglo American Speakers.
By 1985 peace women had started picketing the airbase and were camped outside. Non-USAF members had to be issued with special passes to get onto the base for meetings, but eventually it was too much of a security risk to have ‘unknown’ civilians entering the base so the Club moved off-site and into Newbury in late 1985, still supported by the USAF members initially. Later the Club’s name was changed to Newbury Speakers.
Initially the Club met at the United Reformed Church in Newbury and then in 1987 moved to Newbury Hospital. Around 1989/1990 meetings were held alternately at the United Reformed Church Hall and on the Greenham Common airbase.
With the eventual winding-down of the USAF Greenham Common base the club met at the Hilton Hotel for a few years, and then at other venues in Newbury including the Hospital, the Conservative Club and the Dolphin, before finally arriving at it’s current home – Newbury Rugby Club in 1998.
Although no longer stationed at Greenham Common, Randall, now Major Lanning, came over from his posting at the American base in Norfolk in 1994, when the club celebrated its tenth anniversary with a dinner at the Hilton Hotel.