All talk . . . toasting an opportunity in the midst of a crisis
THE ash cloud has a silver lining for one man who has his heart set on becoming a world champion storyteller.
Erick Rainey (51) is a prize-winning toastmaster, meaning he's an expert on public speaking.
New Orleans-born Mr Rainey, who now lives near Preston in England, was stranded after a successful weekend that saw him scoop top prize at the Toastmaster District finals in Co Sligo.
The closure of Ireland West Airport at Knock yesterday prevented his departure but he saw it as an opportunity to develop a new anecdote.
Mr Rainey is a neuro-linguistic programming trainer, which means he is concerned with how thought patterns influence successful living.
"I am like a sponge, always on the hunt, always receptive to new ideas and listening out for stories and situations that I can potentially use for inspiration for my speeches," he said.
He added that organisers of the event had arranged transport to Dublin where he would catch a ferry to Holyhead.
Winning the Toastmaster District finals for the UK and Ireland means he has the chance of going all the way later this year at the finals in California.
Mr Rainey's seven-minute winning speech 'The Red Bicycle' uses two heart-rending stories to urge the audience to never to give up on their dreams.
"You must move the audience emotionally, otherwise there is no point. As speakers we are selling ideas, and people buy with emotions," he said.
In the UK and Ireland, there are more than 200 Toastmaster clubs, attracting 4,500 plus members.