A Leeds-based speakers’ club that has previously only allowed women members, has voted to allow men to join for the first time in its 40-year history.
Members of the White Rose Speakers Club – part of the National Association of Speakers Clubs – opted to change in a bid to bring the club into the 21st century.
First ever male member Simon Thompson will be joining the ladies at the club’s next meeting at Horsforth Museum on Monday night.
Self-employed engineer Mr Thompson, of Tinshill, said: “I think it is great they have made this decision.
Mr Thompson, who said, he speaks about “anything that comes to mind”, added: “I live a mile from Horsforth and have been travelling 25 miles to the Craven branch of the Association of Speakers Clubs, in Skipton, for the last eight or nine years.
“I have always thought what a pity that I couldn’t join the White Rose club. I know the people there and have been invited as a guest, but couldn’t become a member.”
And he joked: “I thought the only way I would get in is by shaving my legs and wearing a dress.”
White Rose Speakers Club president Barbara Creswell, a retired fundraising manager at Wheatfields Hospice, said she has long been in favour of men joining and welcomed the vote at a recent annual general meeting.
She said younger members voted against the move four years ago, adding: “A lot of them were young women starting out in their careers and they felt that having the opportunity to speak just to women gave them more confidence than speaking to a mixed group.
“I was very much surprised as they all work in a mixed environment. They all work with men wherever they work.”
Mrs Creswell added: “I’m looking forward to more men joining during the next few months. I’m hoping it will bring new life to the club.”
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