My wife Ellenor and I first met Matt through Ange Higgins in 1999. We were producing a documentary for Channel 7 about a tall ship that was located in Perth. Ange was always very generous, providing us with a place to stay, loans of her car and great meals. They moved to Sydney not long after this.
We got to know Matt better once they arrived in Sydney. We would often enjoy barbeques and long dinners through summer and in winter we managed to get a regular tennis game going. We soon realised that Ange was about to marry one of the most generous, intelligent and genuine people we know. Matt has that rare quality where he is truly interested in understanding your interests, what you do and what your passions are.
We both had our first children around the same time. Their son Jack and our daughter Elsie soon became best mates and we spent a lot of time together.
It was around this time that I was given an incredible opportunity by Matt to work on assisting with a tender to design and develop “the greenest suburb ever” in the north west of Sydney. As a filmmaker, this was a rare opportunity to work outside my normal environment, yet have the chance to apply my knowledge and skills on a relatively large scale. During this project, I came to realise that Matt was determined to try and make a difference with the way that our cities, suburbs and lives could be shaped by introducing simple but highly effective changes to way we created communities. The tender was successful and the legacy of this project is being borne out as I write.
Both our families also had a great holiday together in Crescent Head one summer. During our stay, bush fires raged through to the south of the small village and tragically Elle’s brothers home was destroyed, along with most of the family’s possessions. Ange and Matt didn’t hesitate when they got back to Sydney to pack a box of clothes, toys and other goods to send up to Elle’s brother and his kids.
When Matt and Ange told us they were heading to Dubai, we were at once excited for them, but also very sad that our good friends were leaving for several years. Our daughter Elsie was still quite young, but we also knew that her and Jack that wouldn’t get to meet again until later in life. I did manage to visit Matt and Ange in Dubai and was impressed once again that, despite the scale and pace of development in Dubai, Matt was still intent on trying to make a difference with the way that the developments were being created to ensure that they took in to account the environmental needs of our future.
Matt is one of those rare people who actually does what he believes. He is, without doubt, one of the most honest and real people we know.