Lego Masters Rachel and Jason ‘We beat the bullies!’

The high school sweethearts found solace in each other

Badly bullied while growing up in Christchurch, Rachel de Vries was so introverted, a teacher called her a “hermit” in front of her entire class, which only added to her angst and withdrawal. She’s grateful her husband Jason had the courage to introduce himself when they bumped into each other while ice-skating in their teens.

“I would never have gone up to him – I was too scared,” the 38-year-old says. “I was bullied for the entirety of high school. What my teacher didn’t bother to understand was that I was hiding from all the students who picked on me because I had glasses, puffy hair, buck teeth and braces.”

With their kids (from left) Amelia, Lydia and Ryan.

This was something Jason could relate to. “We both had horrendous high-school experiences,” says the furniture designer, 44. “I lived 10 minutes from school and I’d walk home to eat my lunch because the bullies can’t find you if you’re not there.

“I started ice skating when I was 18. That was my first feeling of a community where I had people I was on equal terms with.”

It was an injury that forced Jason off the ice – and got him into Lego – in 2003. “I found a half-price set and that was it,” he says, adding it was another eight years before Rachel “realised that Lego was cool”.

However, Rachel was eventually so enamoured with the blocks that, in 2014, she made up for lost time by setting up a business, House of Bricks, which uses Lego as an education tool.

The pair now have three children – Amelia, 16, Ryan, 14, and Lydia, 12 – but they still bond by building with their plastic blocks. Jason is the risk taker, tells Rachel. “He’ll say, ‘I’ve got an idea,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, no, no!’ But he’ll do it anyway and it’ll be really good.”

There have been a few fractious moments on screen, but that’s where it stayed, insists Jason. “There’s no point in being too serious over it. We just need to be in this together!”

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