The prestigious HMAA Laurels Awards started as a conference conclusion dinner event in 2000. It was designed, as it is today, to recognise excellence for the top communicators in horticulture.
But the story really begins when the South Australian, Victorian and NSW HMA branches agreed to each take responsibility for some aspect of being a national organisation. Victoria managed communications between branches and published the quarterly HMA News; NSW opted to work on maintaining strong industry links, and SA took on ‘events’.
It didn’t take long for the SA team to suggest a national awards program and formed a working party that included Michael Keelan (chair), Trevor Nottle, Chris Steele Scott, Dianne Hall (NGISA), Merilyn Kuchel and Jan Beare.
“Between us we came up with the event name, The HMA Laurels,” Trevor says. “We then set about defining the categories and rules for entry. Once it was approved by the national committee the SA group went into overdrive to ensure a high quality event.”
Over the years the awards have grown and in 2014 new categories were added to accommodate the ever-changing media landscape. But what hasn’t altered is the prestige of winning a HMAA Laurel.
In 2016, the Laurels were overhauled with a change of “management” from South Australia to Victoria on the retirement of the indefatigible June Taylor. The number of categories was reduced to eight, to reflect the various crafts that members work in professionally as authors, writers, photographers, social media commentators, editors, webmasters, presenters, producers and researchers.