Men­tors make a dif­fer­ence

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

DE­SPITE hav­ing two grownup chil­dren who have left home, Don Cot­ter is en­joy­ing be­ing a role model once again.

He is part of the Big Buddy pro­gramme, a char­ity which matches men with fa­ther­less boys.

Mr Cot­ter has been men­tor­ing Mt Roskill eight-yearold Ai­den, the youngest of 11 chil­dren, since March and to­gether they do all the things fathers all over Auck­land do with their own chil­dren – whether it be vis­it­ing the mu­seum, swim­ming at Mt Al­bert’s wave pool, bike-rid­ing at Me­chan­ics Bay or hang­ing out at Corn­wall Park.

“He’s full of beans. I al­ways tell him to bring his book.”

Mr Cot­ter says weather per­mit­ting this Fa­ther’s Day on Sun­day he is keen to play some ten­nis with Ai­den and get in­volved with sum­mer sport.

He says Ai­den’s mother does her best for the fam­ily. “I take my hat off to her. He and his mum are quite close.”

Mr Cot­ter, 61, says bud­dies are en­cour­aged to spend three to four hours a week with a boy and com­mit for a year.

“They are very or­di­nary Ki­wis whose hearts are in the right place. They tell us two things – to be your­self and to be cer­tain. Cer­tainty is some­thing they need.”

Mr Cot­ter says he had some free time af­ter sell­ing a busi­ness and saw an ad­ver­tise- ment for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“It just pushed the right but­tons.”

Mr Cot­ter had a good re­la­tion­ship with his own fa­ther but his grand­fa­ther was killed dur­ing World War One.

“My fa­ther was or­phaned as a four-year-old, he had a lucky break at nine years old.”

That lucky break was be­ing ad­mit­ted to Dil­worth School in Ep­som, which gave him a good ground­ing and sev­eral male role-mod­els.

“He was strongly in­flu­enced,” Mr Cot­ter says of his fa­ther, who later be­came chair­man of the school’s trust board.

Big Buddy chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard As­ton says boys need good male role mod­els to be­come good men.

“At Big Buddy, we have noth­ing but ad­mi­ra­tion for solo moth­ers who coura­geously tackle the tough job of rais­ing boys on their own, but they can­not model male­ness. And boys learn through mod­el­ling.

“What we do is match fa­ther­less boys with wellscreened male men­tors who can foster a re­la­tion­ship sim­i­lar to that of, say, an un­cle.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­vides men­tors for more than 140 fa­ther­less boys in Auck­land and Welling­ton.

Big Buddy will launch its first fundrais­ing ap­peal this Sun­day. Do­na­tions to can be posted to Big Buddy, PO Box 83-031, Ed­mon­ton, Waitakere 0652.

Al­ter­na­tively you can help the Big Buddy Fa­ther­less Day ap­peal by go­ing on­line to www.big­buddy.org.nz or text DAD to 883 to make a $3 do­na­tion.

Happy pair: Don Cot­ter of­ten watches Ai­den’s sports and watches him per­form in his kapa haka group.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Role model: Don Cot­ter says be­ing a male men­tor keeps him young.

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