PHILLIP Island’s Mat Bowtell has received a Commonwealth Points of Light in honour of his exceptional service in designing and creating affordable prosthetic limbs for children.
On his day of recognition by Her Majesty the Queen, Mat was still giving thanks to his family and volunteers.
Her Excellency Mrs Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Australia, flew into Melbourne and then came down to Phillip Island to acknowledge Mat for his inspirational volunteer contribution to not only Australians, but those in need all around the world.
“I am lost for words,” said Mr Bowtell, who continued to thank his loved ones and the local volunteers who have helped his charity become what it is today.
As part of the legacy of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, Her Majesty the Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and around the world.
Mat has been acknowledged to celebrate his inspirational act of volunteering.
“I am honoured to present this award to Mat, who is representing Australia as an engineer and who has used his professional skills to create affordable prosthetic limbs for thousands of families,” said Her Excellency, Vicki Treadell.
“Mat epitomises the best of our Commonwealth values and this award is recognition of that and the contribution he is making to society.”
Mat’s work is transforming lives. He’s helping people to play piano, use a skipping rope and play tennis.
He’s a part of the collective journey, working together to find solutions for a
Matt said: “I dream of a world where assistive devices are accessible to all and volunteering has helped me to find my true purpose in life and has given me more satisfaction that I could have ever imagined.”
Rather than licence his designs for profit and personal commercial gain, Mat has made his designs free to download for people around the world.
Mat’s revolutionary ‘kinetic finger’ has been downloaded by more than 3000 people saving recipients around $18m.
“This gives me a tap on the shoulder to say, ‘Yes, Free 3D Hands is on the right path’.
“I think moving forward I’d like to encourage the next generation to achieve the goal of helping those in need,” said Mat.
Mat has been unemployed for the past 19 months and has been volunteering full time.
With the support of his wife and the kind community surrounding him, Mat has enabled Free 3D Hands to become a recognisable charity.
“I thank my wife for her endless support in allowing me to follow my dream, starting with 3D printers in our kitchen, then many of them taking up the spare room.
“I can now welcome volunteers into our workplace to assist the assembly line and create a hand in a matter of hours,” said Mat.
Mat recognised the Monash University biomedical engineer students Zafar and Jiajin who visit the Phillip Island workshop on a fortnightly basis and undergo 6-8 hours per week behind the scenes working on new coding to create their next design.
Safar and Jiajin have been welcomed and nurtured by Mat to assist him in his creation of the new prosthetic limbs. The next design is due to be finished by the end of this year.
“Mat is so encouraging and has taught me so much, he values my knowledge of coding and I will continue to work with Mat even after my master’s degree is finalised,” said Jiajin.
Mat is well respected within his local community and has made his family proud.
He has tackled some of the greatest social challenges and continues to inspire others during his journey as a volunteer.
Inspiring the next generation