Two outstanding role models for children were honoured as Big Brother and Big Sister of the year yesterday.

Kyle James and Bernadette Lawrence took the honours.

Sierra Outerbridge, the mother of Mr James’s “Little”, Quilahn, said: “Quilahn lost his father 12 years ago when he was a year old.

“Although he doesn’t remember him, I could sense it was affecting him in school.

“Then there comes Kyle. Kyle goes above and beyond when it comes to Quilahn.

“It used to surprise me how well they interact with each other. They are like real brothers.”

Ms Outerbridge was speaking at the Thank Your Mentor event at Hamilton City Hall.

Mr James was unable to attend the ceremony, but sent a voice recording to thank BBBS.

He said: “When I first became a mentor I thought it was all about what I had to give, but I was seriously mistaken.”

Mr James added: “Quilahn has been a blessing in my life and I couldn’t see life without him.

“I look forward to continue to support him as he continues his journey in life.”

Ms Lawrence, a police sergeant and 12-year veteran of the service, also thanked the organisation for the award.

She said: “I would encourage members of the community to assist in volunteering and mentoring our youth so that they will become productive citizens in our community.”

Othneal Haynes, the president of BBBS, was honoured as the volunteer of the year for his work for the charity.

Mr Haynes fought back tears as he said: “I didn’t join this organisation to get this.

“I like to get things done, but I like to be in the background, so this is a surprise.”

He added: “I’ve mentored three Little Brothers and my last one is ageing out, but it’s been a pleasure and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, the managing director of BBBS, said this year’s winners highlighted the effect a good influence could have on a child’s life.

She added: “When volunteering, you also learn that the growth in children really makes a difference in your life.”

The ceremony also highlighted other people and organisations devoted to making a difference for Bermuda’s young people. Ms O’Connor-Paynter thanked mentoring groups such as the Mirrors programme and YouthNet for their work.

She also presented community activist Desmond Crockwell with an award to mark his work to get men involved in the lives of youngsters.

Ms O’Connor-Paynter said: “Every young person needs a man in their lives.

“We back Mr Crockwell 100 per cent in his plea to get more men involved in our Bermuda community, because I believe that if men did get involved, we wouldn’t have some of these issues.”

Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said: “Mentoring is something that is of great benefit to the individual, to the young person and to Bermuda as a whole.”

She told the audience at the ceremony: “You are making the future of Bermuda a priority by mentoring our youth.”

The Royal Gazette