Boys benefit from buddies
When Connor Bindon's, 13, father died he not only lost his dad, but his best mate.
In 2004 Milford mum Trudie Partridge became a solo parent to four-year-old Connor when his father died of cancer.
"It's never ideal being a solo mum, but Connor and his dad were very close. I worried about who would fill that hole, who would be the male role model Connor could look up to."
A few years later, Ms Partridge says it was Connor's primary school teacher that recommended they get in touch with Big Buddy.
Big Buddy facilitates mentoring to fatherless boys aged 7 to 13.
It is based on the idea that boys need good male role models to lead full and meaningful lives.
Connor first joined the programme when he was nine and has now been matched with Big Buddy mentor Laurie Ingham for three years.
The pair meet once every fortnight to do fun blokey activities Connor used to enjoy with his dad.
Fishing, building remote control boats and riding on Laurie's motorbike are some of the favourites.
"I used to think Connor was missing out on so much, even just the little things like using tools in the garage and those father-son conversations.
"As he gets older it's good that he has someone he can talk to and ask questions that he wouldn't necessarily want to ask me," Ms Partridge says.
Mr Ingham volunteered with Big Buddy after seeing an advertisement in the paper.
"I felt I could do something worthwhile. I agree with the philosophy that young lads need male role models and I thought I'd done a pretty good job with my own son and I may as well help someone else," Mr Ingham says.
The pair's relationship will continue for as long as they can make it work, he says.
"It's very rewarding. These lads are good kids and they deserve every break they can get.
"It started out for me as being a service to the community, but after a while it became just an afternoon of fun on the weekend."
Big Buddy is on the look out for volunteer mentors.
Go to bigbuddy.org.nz or call the North Shore branch on 488 7181.
North Shore Times