MID North Coast legend George Hoad's list of community involvement is one full A4 page-and-a-half long.
His voluntary service to the community has spanned 35 years, 20 of those spent in the gardening world locally, and 10 years nationally.
For this he has been appointed an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours List for significant service to the residential horticulture industry, and to the community.
When George received the first letter in April, telling him he was going to receive the appointment, he did not believe it.
"Ironically I got it on April Fool's Day," George says. "I thought 'someone's pulling my leg'."
Over the past few months he has accepted that the appointment was, in fact, real, but he wasn't able to tell anyone until yesterday.
"Each day it sinks in a bit more. It's like, you're so excited but you have learnt to just sit on it."
He doesn't know who nominated him, but suspects it is someone in the gardening world.
"I am deeply honoured, I know that's a cliché, but I really am, to have received such a prestigious award. And I'm pretty proud to receive it. I'm honoured to think that friends, colleagues, peers, whoever I've worked with over the years in the various fields, have felt me worth of not only nominating, but supporting such a nomination," he says.
George's most recent and, without a doubt, biggest voluntary involvement has been with the Garden Clubs of Australia (GCA). He has been a committee member since 2012, the events and functions manager from 2012-2015 and photo competition coordinator from 2012-2014, the zone coordinator, Lower North Coast and Hunter North Zones since 2013, senior vice-president from 2013-2014, and finally president from 2015-2020.
His role as president of the GCA, a national not-for-profit run entirely by volunteers, has been a full time job for George, though unpaid.
"I spent five years zig-zagging around the country, visiting as many clubs as possible, many hundreds of the 750 affiliates, 50,000 members," George said.
"Seeing on the ground what these wonderful gardeners do for their communities, their regions, that kept me going. I really enjoyed that.
"My aims were to get the organisation known internally and to get the Garden Clubs of Australia, as an organisation, known externally to the wider public and the media, so people knew who we were."
The thing he is most proud of over his 35 years of volunteering is instituting National Garden Week in 2017.
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