1978 was the first time I met Matthew. For the next 15 years he was what I would describe as one of those ‘stalwart’ friends. One of a group of 3-4 that shepherd each other through the vagaries of adolescence and young adulthood.  We worked together, lived together, played sport together and took holidays together. They were formative years and for my part it was a privilege to have someone like Matthew alongside me.

We had our disagreements but they didn’t last long. Most of the time we were a consolidated force working together chasing similar dreams – as one has in youth. While the outcomes of this effort were  rarely as planned it was mostly extremely positive and often a great experience.  Through this extended period and since I have never once had cause to question Matthew’s loyalty, integrity or character at any level.  He is one of those people that exude stability and surety – one whose example it was always worth following.  Often providing support to those less sure or less able to deal with various ‘life’ situations.

He was reliable – almost to a robotic level.  I think back over the years and remember running around the bush in the 1980’s – three times a week, two short runs and one long run.  I also remember that one bloke won every week and that Matthew, without fail came second in every single race – time after time, like a machine – just kept fronting up.  It was admirable stuff.  Then there was that one race, just one where Matthew won – it was such a turn up it still ranks as one of my fondest memories from that period.  Matthew’s reliability and honesty was broadly recognised.  He was one of a small group hand picked out of 300 possibles to go searching for lost hikers – and ultimately was in the group that found them.

Into adulthood we went our separate ways, different industries, different and expanded groups of friends.  When possible we kept in touch but things drifted to a point I found myself watching Matthew’s career from the outside.  It was no surprise to me to see him have such success in work and with family – he basically has admirable core values that are recognizable, highly prized and readily transferable.

His current situation is gut-wrenching to watch.  However, it is important that ‘distance challenged’ but highly skilled Australian’s like Matthew have the courage to take themselves and their families into totally different environments and cultures.  Working with other cultures and nations is a fundamental pre-requisite for the future of a ‘cooperative global community’ – there is much to be said for it and for those that undertake it. In Matthew’s case he has always had a desire to contribute – always keen to produce something and make a difference.  I never felt it was much about chasing personal success but more about contributing in the best way he could.

Individuals like this often find themselves having a level of success. My distant observations on this point suggest success does bring with it greater rewards but also greater risks. Simple decisions of early career escalate in later life to become future defining – either for good or bad.  Success involves informed risks and the ability to make hard and very hard decisions.  Such environments are double edged fostering both winners and losers, envy and adulation, leaders and scapegoats.  It would appear to me that few at the top work a full life immune from a perceived social, financial or emotional glitch in the eyes of others at some point.

Matthew has courage, resilience and an open honest character. I would happily extol his virtues at any given opportunity.  I remain optimistic and confident of his long term future – and will do whatever I can to support he and family.

Cullen Gunn