DESPITE his 44 years with Toastmasters, Gary Wilson still thinks he's gained more out of his service than the organisation has gained from him.
On May 2, the Oatlands residents was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia by NSW Governor Marie Bashir for his community service through Toastmasters International, an organisation devoted to developing leaders.
Mr Wilson, now retired, credits his success in his former career to the club and puts his sharp leadership skills down to its special training in public speaking.
"The catchphrase is it's the organisation where leaders are made," Mr Wilson said. "It's about training people in communication and leadership skills."
The movement exists in more than 120 countries, with about 700 branches in Australia, and turns 90 this year.
"There are three main things we do. One, prepare speeches; two, impromptu speeches and three, evaluation of these," Mr Wilson said. "To be a good leader, you have to be a good communicator first."
A member of Parramatta Toastmasters for more than 40 years and its president on three occasions, Mr Wilson also served as the organisation's NSW district governor and on the Toastmasters International board of directors. In the past he's been president of the former Parramatta Kindergarten in the late 1960s and president of an Adelaide hockey club.
But Mr Wilson joined Toastmasters at 32 as a shy engineer with limited people skills.
"So from being an engineer in a technical environment, I became a people-person as well.
"It shaped me and changed my career.
"I ended up as the national service manager for Sony Australia for nearly 20 years.
"Toastmasters was the key to helping me get that career move."
Today, Mr Wilson is the daytime bridge director for both the Carlingford Bridge Club and the Pennant Hills Bridge Club.