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Police officer is ‘exceptional’ role model

Shared love of the ocean: Dominique Simons, right, with his ‘Little’ Colin

Applying to become a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda was one of the best decisions Dominique Simons has ever made was.

Almost four years ago, the 32-year-old police officer, from Paget, was matched with Colin Seaman and the pair have developed a close bond ever since.

Mr Simons has now been selected as BBBS’s male “Big of the Year”, exemplifying the true definition of the programme, which aims to help children realise their potential by facilitating the development of long-term, one-to-one relationships.

“It was quite a shock actually,” Mr Simons told The Royal Gazette. “I wasn’t expecting a nomination, let alone to win.”

Colin, 16, had initially been reluctant to take part in the programme and it took years for him to be matched with a Big Brother.

“But I’m grateful for every second Dom has taken to spend with his little Bro,” he said.

“He has been a great role model for me these past years, pushing me to do my best in everything that I have done.

“He always goes out of his way to make sure I’m cool and [have] got everything that I need.

“I would just like to say thanks Bro for imparting skills and helping me to get me in the right mindset to shape my future. It means a lot, and I can’t thank you enough.”

Mr Simons became a “Big Brother” to Colin the same month he joined the Bermuda Police Service in April 2013.

He had decided to sign up after hearing a radio interview about BBBS, and felt he could be a mentor too.

“It was a little bit difficult trying to balance the studying for the police training and to have him, but it ended up working out very well and we’ve been close ever since.

“It was a growing experience both career wise and also as an individual.

“It was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

“He’s an amazing individual. He laughs a lot. He’s got a good heart and I look forward to seeing who he becomes as he grows up.”

Mr Simons and Colin try to spend a whole day together once a week.

“We do a whole bunch of stuff,” Mr Simons said. “We do deep-sea fishing, although we still haven’t caught anything. We go spear fishing.

“He’s finally at the age where he can spearfish but we’re still working on his breath hold and being able to stay under water for longer.

“We also do lobster diving. I got him his lobster licence. We’re trying to get better at that too.”

Mr Simons has also taught his “Little” how to cook fish and the pair also enjoy movies, grabbing a bite to eat and football.

Colin’s mother, Sonja Seaman, described Mr Simons as “exceptional”.

“Before I even met him I knew he was a perfect match for my son Colin. They shared so many of the same interests — fishing, boating, swimming, bowling etc.

“If you asked Colin as a young child what he wanted to be, he always answered, ‘a marine biologist’, and Dominique has a college degree in a similar field — wow!

“But what impressed me most is that Dominique selected my son because he was on the waiting list for about six years and had not been matched up with a ‘Big’.”

She added: “These two have a special relationship. Dominique has taken his commitment very serious, calling weekly to make plans with Colin, and always showing up. Exceptional.

“I am so thankful that Dominque came into Colin’s life and helped him on his journey to become a man.”

Mr Simons will be recognised at the Thank Your Mentor ceremony at City Hall this afternoon.

As January marks Mentoring Month, BBBS is hosting the event to celebrate mentors in Bermuda, with the public invited to attend from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

In the event of inclement weather the event will move into the City Hall foyer.

For more information on the BBBS programme or how to become a volunteer, visit www.bbbs.bm