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Barry Leech OAM

“I never woke up in the morning and said, ‘I don’t want to go to work’,” says Barry Leech OAM. “I love making a difference – giving someone an opportunity to reach their potential.”

Mr Leech worked for almost 60 years making and fitting prosthetic limbs for over 10,000 people.

“I wanted to enable them to be mobile, independent and above all live with dignity. This included ex-servicemen from the First World War to the present conflicts; the youngest children who have been able to be equal to their peers and excel at all things in life; Paralympians who have gone beyond their capabilities with pride and enthusiasm; working mothers and fathers trying to live normally and provide for their families; trauma clients who want to be treated as survivors not victims. These are just some of the groups I’ve worked to support over the years.”

Inspired by his dad, an ex-serviceman who died at age 50, Mr Leech says, “At the time of his death, I was working overseas for the Australian Government under the Colombo Plan in Bangladesh as an aid expert. He was my role model as he never turned anyone away who needed help.”

Mr Leech also pays tribute to his first boss William Clague MBE at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, who was recognised for his dedication to the community over 51 years including the polio epidemic.

“To be seen in the same light as him … I feel I am walking in his shadow and will be forever grateful for his encouragement and mentoring.”

“To go to work every day knowing that I have made a positive impact on someone’s life is a great achievement, and treating every one of my clients as an individual, allowing them the opportunity to live their life to the fullest.”

“I’m thankful that I am blessed with a wonderful wife and three daughters who allowed me to give so much time to others in need. And for my colleagues and clients who nominated me for this prestigious award and who have believed in me and feel I am worthy of the honour. Lastly, my thanks to the ex-servicemen with a limb loss (who were the first Prosthetists) who shared their knowledge, skills and empathy with me that began my life of dedication and commitment. “