As a child I had a very bad stammer and was helped over a period of years by the great Lionel Logue who also helped the King of England with his stammer.
At the age of 11 at my prep school, you had to take turns to read the lesson in the school chapel. In my case this was deeply embarrassing not only for me but for the other boys as well because not only did I have difficulty in enunciating the words but I also banged my head on the lecton as an accompanying concomitant tic.
The school was kind enough to select very simple and few verses from the Bible and these I would rehearse with Lionel Logue whose basic technique was connected with breathing and self confidence. He also helped me to understand how spoken words were made up, how the mechanism of one’s vocal cords, tongue and mouth worked. Eventually I was able to read without stammering but had to do so agonisingly slowly.
Later at senior school I determined to enter the Junior Declamation Prize competition at the age of 14. This meant learning a piece written by the Victorian writer A W Kingslake. Logue and I rehearsed this very carefully over and over again and to my joy I won the prize and the invigilator had absolutely no idea that I was a stammerer. 70 years later I look back and often think of this is the most successful moment in my life. It was actuallythe last time I saw Lionel Logue because he died soon after that butI think he was pleased with my triumph.
I continued to have a slight stammer into my 20s. Often as a young national service officer I had some problems from time to time but not many and later when I used to write and present a children’s television programme on Anglia television in my late 20s occasionally, when I saw a recording I would notice a small hesitation but nothing much to worry about.
Since then I have run courses to train people for television and radio and made numerous multi media appearances over the years. As a co-founder of one of the most successful Toastmasters International groups, Early Birds Speakers I have been privileged to help people present and speak in public.. This experience particularly served me in very good stead when I was elected Lord Mayor of Canterbury and had to make two or three speeches a day during my year of office.
I have a warm and grateful memory of the wonderfulLionel Logue who permanently changed my life. I also feel that I have unconsciously benefited from his patience, professionalism and kindness during my 25 years of coaching and mentoring.
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George Metcalfe is a Mentor and Life Coach. He specialises in closing the gap between where you are now and where you’d like to be. In the last 25 years George has mentored and coached more than 2,500 clients, both privately and corporately. He has worked in over 30 countries, running businesses and advising corporations, political and business leaders, governments, sports teams and members of the public. You can contact George via his website at: http://georgemetcalfe.co.uk