A young father-to-be who died suddenly after both he and his wife lost their jobs due to COVID-19 has been remembered as a selfless sports-lover who had a ‘Colgate smile’.
Cricket coach Matt Conwell, 32, died last Wednesday in Carindale in Brisbane’s south-east – with his sister-in-law describing the moment he took his own life as a ‘snap decision’ and completely out of character.
His wife Ashleigh, who found out she was going to be a mother to triplets in June, had also lost her job as a marketing manager at Flight Centre as millions of Australians were put out of work by the coronavirus pandemic.
Clint Freebody, a friend of Mr Conwell since childhood, said the two of them had last met up on his birthday on March 22 as the crisis first began to take hold in Australia.
Matt and Ashleigh Conwell pictured at their 2017 wedding. Mr Conwell tragically took his own life last week amid the financial burden of both he and his wife losing their jobs while expecting triplets
Mr Conwell (pictured with his wife) has been remembered by a close friend for his ‘Colgate smile’ and selfless personality
‘The last time I saw him was on his birthday – March 22, though we talked often, including about how s**t COVID was,’ he told the Courier-Mail.
Mr Freebody said he still played backyard cricket with his friend whenever they were together in Brisbane.
‘He was patient, kind, caring and put others first, before even considering himself,’ the friend said.
‘He was allergic to peanuts, loved strawberry thick shakes, and had an infamous Colgate smile.’
The headmaster of Brisbane’s Ormiston College – where the 32-year-old went to school – said Mr Conwell was a prolific cricketer in his time there and won the ‘most valuable player’ award three years running.
Kind strangers meanwhile have raised more than $180,000 for Ms Conwell as she struggles with the financial burden of preparing for the birth of being a single mum-of-three.
To help with the enormous costs associated with caring for her babies once they are born, a devastated Mrs Conwell agreed to let her friend Alex Nesevski set up a Go Fund Me page.
‘Ashleigh isn’t the sort of person who would ask for help, and money can never replace the loss of her husband, but she knows she needs support,’ Mrs Nesevski told Daily Mail Australia.
On September 2, Matt Conwell (pictured) was hit and killed by a 4WD in Carindale, south-east Brisbane
She explained the costs of pregnancy, delivery and caring for triplets that would be ‘challenging for any couple’ are especially difficult for a jobless single mother.
‘They were already stretching every dollar and budgeting tightly for the arrival of their unexpected but so very wanted family … the financial hardship she now finds herself in is significant,’ she said.
‘She has to see a specialist every two weeks because carrying three babies is a huge physical strain – growing bones and brains.’
The page has been overwhelmed with friends and family offering support for the young family, as the amount of money raised continues to surge.
Matt Conwell (pictured)and his wife both lost their jobs due to coronavirus, as they found out they were going to be parents to triplets
Queensland Police confirmed it was a self-harm incident, with Senior Sergeant Tom Nelson saying it had been ‘very sad’
‘I passed the scene of the accident last Wednesday and I can assure you the emergency services were doing all they could to help Matt,’ one woman wrote on the fundraising page.
‘I wish you the very best for the arrival of your beloved babies and for the beautiful life that you will create together with them and your families.’
Another shared: ‘As someone who lost their husband before giving birth to our first child, my heart is broken for you. This will be the biggest ride of your life, but I promise you, these babies will get you through the darkest days and you will see the sun again.’
The couple met in 2008 when Mr Conwell saw his future wife pictured on the cover of a local newspaper after she attended a fundraising event for leukaemia
Mrs Conwell’s sister Emily Fallon, 27, told the Courier-Mail her ‘very caring and genuine’ brother-in-law wasn’t thinking clearly when he took his own life.
‘It was a snap decision, a moment of clouded judgement, and totally out of character.’
She explained that he struggled after losing his job, but ‘it wasn’t meant to be this way’.
‘This year’s been tough for everyone, even the strongest people you thought could get through it … it just shows suicide doesn’t discriminate.’
Parents-to-be Matt and Ashleigh Conwell, from Brisbane , had been tightly budgeting to care for their three unborn babies after they both lost their jobs due to COVID-19
Ms Fallon said the families rallied around Mrs Conwell with love and support to show that she will not raise her children alone.
A pregnant Mrs Conwell arrived at the scene and broke down and suffered ‘extreme shock’ following her ‘beloved soulmate’s’ death.
Mrs Nesevski told Daily Mail Australia the mother-to-be has vowed to raise her children knowing who their father is.
‘Losing Matt has placed an almost overwhelming burden on Ashleigh, and she’s the strongest person I know.’
‘She keeps saying “I’m going to be strong for our babies”.’
Ms Conwell’s sister, Emily Fallon, said her brother-in-law was ‘genuine and caring’ but had been struggling after losing his job
Mrs Conwell has also been joking that she is ‘growing a mini cricket team in her belly’.
She vowed to instill her late husband’s morals into the triplets as they grow.
Queensland Cricket CEO Terry Svenson told the Courier-Mail the organisation was shocked to learn the tragic news.
He said many people worked closely with Mr Conwell since he started with the company in 2009 and that they would support his wife in any way they could.
The expectant mother was one of the first on the scene of the accident, where she broke down
Members of the Darling Downs association and Redlands Tigers cricket clubs described him as ‘the loveliest bloke’.
Mrs Nesevski said the couple found out they were going to be parents in early June, but only found out they would have having three babies during the second visit to the doctor.
‘No one believed them when they said it was triplets – the family thought they were joking around. You don’t think you’ll end up with three in your first pregnancy.’
The couple met in 2008 when Mr Conwell saw his future wife pictured on the cover of a local newspaper after she attended a fundraising event for leukaemia.
Pictured: Police at the scene following Mr Conwell’s tragic death on September 2 in Brisbane
Upon seeing her face and reading her name, the then 20-year-old contacted her on MySpace.
After weeks of messaging each other, 17-year-old Ashleigh agreed to meet at Cleveland Harbour in Brisbane’s west.
Mrs Nesevski said she was hesitant to meet up with the stranger at first, but ‘the date went extremely well,’ she laughed.
Their 2017 wedding featured a copy of the news story that brought them together.
Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 for suicide support and information.