COWES’ Mat Bowtell and Wonthaggi’s Margaret Sand are this year’s local Bass Coast heroes. They were named Bass Coast’s Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year respectively last Wednesday, January 13.

Nominated by Neville Goodwin, Mr Bowtell, founder of Free 3D Hands, was recognised for his work in re-purposing 14 of his 30 3D printers to manufacture face shields.

These face shields ensured Bass Coast Health’s local health care workers, aged care services, GP clinics and other frontline workers were safe when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

He used his own savings and, through community fundraising and government funding, was able to employ locals who had lost their jobs to produce 6000 face shields.

Mr Bowtell and his team at Free 3D Hands have also been changing lives of children all over the world since 2014, manufacturing and providing them with the free prosthetics.

Ms Sand was nominated by John Williams.

She just completed Year 12 at Wonthaggi Secondary College and was recognised for her volunteer work, which included initiating a program to create homeless packs with Wonthaggi Christian Life Centre and Wonthaggi Anglican Church in 2019.

Ms Sand believes community is important, both to herself and to the fabric of how we can learn to support and help others.

In recognition of their achievements, this year’s Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year each received a painting by local artist Katherine Muir.

Bass Coast mayor Cr Brett Tessari, congratulated Mr Bowtell and Ms Sand on their awards and thanked them for their commitment to the Bass Coast community.

“The Australia Day Awards are all about recognising ordinary Australians who contribute to our shire above and beyond expectations.

Their achievements often go unrecognised,” Cr Tessari said.

The mayor acknowledged and congratulated all the nominees for the awards: Lija Matthews from Wimbledon Heights, Everett O’Keeffe from North Wonthaggi, Dave Sutton from Inverloch, Karen Treppo from Cowes, Mark Underwood from Cape Woolamai and Karen Walters from Inverloch.

“There are many individuals, and you all know them, who give us countless hours of work across the community in a wide range of spectrums, activities and services. These people have one thing in common. They are genuinely humble and do not expect recognition. We all owe them a debt of gratitude,” Cr Tessari said.

“There are so many wonderful people that commit their time and effort to better our community.

“I would like to thank all of those that took the time to submit or contribute to the nominations for the 2021 awards.

“I would also like to thank the judging panel for the assistance in assessing the nominations – never an easy task.”