Jason Simpson and Peter Durose

Jason Simpson and Pete Durose playing darts during their weekly catch-up.

By Paul O'Rourke

Jason Simpson is the envy of his mates for his friendship with Pete Durose, the Harley-riding, cigar-smoking, guitar-playing Viking mentor with the chest-length beard and piercing, no-nonsense blue eyes.

Pete Durose sees mentoring as a “lifelong commitment”, such is the strength of his bond with Jason, 15.

The pair has already been together for five years, starting when Jason was a Grade Five pupil at Devonport Primary School. And Jason knows he has a friend for life in the man he calls a “best friend, who listens without judgment.”

A head taller than most other kids his age, Jason was an easy target by school bullies who wanted to provoke the then 10-year-old.

He found a kindred spirit in the wild-looking man who had his back from day one.

At the first interview Pete made it clear to Jason that he could help him with his anger because as a boy he went through similar issues, and that he could give him coping strategies.

Jason admits he didn’t know how to handle the aggression he often felt.

“Now, I go out to the shed or to my nan’s place when I get too mad.”

Pete, who has worked as a social worker with Anglicare and as a builder, thought carefully before joining the mentor program.

“It was a big decision. I didn’t want to let anyone down.

“I wrestled with it for a while and felt that Jason didn’t need another rejection.

“I wondered if I was making any difference. I prayed about it, and the Lord showed me a picture of a hand reaching down into a fast-flowing stream and changing the direction of the water. The Lord said, ‘This is what you are doing each week’ and that I would help change the course of this young man’s life.

“Jason knows I care about him and his family, and it’s a lifelong commitment that goes beyond school. It’s about friendship. He also knows that for me, the joy of the Lord changes everything.

“I don’t know where I’d be without him.

“Everyone needs someone looking out for them.”

The relationship started slowly, taking months building a wooden birdcage, playing basketball, darts, talking about life as they went.

There is an obvious respect and ease as they throw darts and talk. There’s always music playing in the background. Pete is a singer/songwriter whose guitar is never far away.

As a father of two adult girls, Pete, 60, is “very proud” of his young mate who is leaning towards following his mentor into the building trade.

Do you have what it takes to be a mentor?

If so, register your interest in our next mentor training on Saturday, September 18, from 9am and 3pm at the Devonport Chaplaincy Office at 130 William Street, Devonport.

Jason Simpson as a primary age student

Peter Simpson with the birdcage he built over many months with his mentor, Pete Durose.