'Weight' a relief for North East Lincolnshire's biggest losers
WHAT have these super slimmers got in common with a buffalo?
The team of 18 Weightwatchers have stampeded into the record books by losing a combined weight of 558 kilogrammes – nearly 88st – which is the equivalent of a large female buffalo.
A staggering 29 per cent of the population of North East Lincolnshire are obese, according to Weightwatchers figures, putting the borough second highest in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
However, it is hoped the achievements of the group will inspire others to say farewell to fat.
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A celebration and award ceremony was held at Grimsby Town Hall, where the group were praised by health promotions leaders and the borough's mayor, Councillor Mike Burton.
The slimmers had all been referred to the free 12-week course – run in partnership between North East Lincolnshire Council, the area's Care Trust, GPs and Weightwatchers – by their GPs.
Top of the pack was Alice Patrick, of Convamore Road, who was awarded with a one year gold member pass, after shedding a colossal 147.5lb – more than 10st.
The arthritis sufferer said she had exhausted all other diets before turning to Weightwatchers.
She said: "By going on their website, I have found out the value of each food and I only take the correct portion. I can plan my meals better.
"Now, if I have an operation, there is less risk of complications. I no longer feel embarrassed."
North East Lincolnshire health promotion co-ordinator for the health and well-being of adults, Kelly Reddington, said the initial 12-week course helped change patients' lifestyles by focusing on their habits which add to their weight.
She said: "Since we started in 2009, we have targeted nearly 3,000 people and tonight we are coming together to celebrate some of the successes of the patients involved and the successful partnership with primary care."
Congratulating all the slimmers, Councillor Burton said: "It has demonstrated the amount of determination and courage in this area.
"Getting these results has been absolutely fantastic. It has happened with the help of a a great team. Congratulations to each and everyone of you."
Weightwatchers manager Linda Murray said there are 14 million women in the UK trying to lose weight – and spoke of the serious side of shedding those excess pounds.
She said: "With many of the patients, the weight they were carrying was affecting their health.
"It is not just about getting your favourite pair of jeans to fit, it is about easing aches and pains, sleeping better and avoiding angina and strokes."
Ailments suffered by the group before losing weight through the scheme, included blocked arteries, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
Councillor Roz James presented awards to those who had lost the most weight, including Bev Lewis, who shed 87.5lb in just over nine months.
She said: "My journey is not yet over. I have another 12lb to go. Back then I was miserable and morbidly obese.
"I did not know how to get out of the spiral of eating more and getting more depressed.
"I went to the GP and she offered me the course. I lost 87.5lb and dropped five dress sizes. I am much happier now and love clothes shopping, which is costing my husband a fortune.
"I needed a kick up the bum. I needed that incentive."
Bev, 44, of Navenby Close, Great Coates, revealed that before she lost more than 84lb, she was unable to put on her own socks.
She said: "Now I walk about 30 miles a week and go walking on the beach from the Humber Mouth yacht club to Cleethorpes.
She is also looking forward to renewing her wedding vows to husband Matt, 32, at St Michael's Church, in June, who has also lost 35lb after cutting out the takeaways and doing all their own cooking.
Pat Marriott, 68, of Emmanuelle Court, Grimsby, lost 92.5lb.
She said: "I was due to go and get two knee operations. Now they are not needed. I was a type two diabetic, which I am now no longer. I was asthmatic and now hardly use my inhaler.
"I can go upstairs and not lose breath and I do t'ai chi and curling a lot."
Grimsby Institute teacher Theresa Marriott struggled to walk to the third floor of her workplace until she lost 28lb and dropped from a size 22 to 16. Her husband Richard has lost 42lb.
The English teacher said: "We never ate breakfast or lunch and came home and gorged. We are still eating, but losing weight at the same time."
Richard said he loved the social aspect of Weightwatchers meetings.
He said: "We appreciate the nurse referring us."
Semi-retired surveyor, Anthony Laker, 62, of the Spinney, Grimsby, said pastry had been his downfall, but fighting the temptation to go to the bakery helped him lose a mammoth 84lb (6st).
He said: "It started putting on weight when I finished my full-time job. The weight went on and on.
"Now, I have more stamina and my health is much better. It has taken me a year, but my general health has improved a lot. I swim and walk and life is a lot better.
"You do not realise how bad you look.
Carol Rose, who had weighed in at 12st, lost 21lb – leaving her "no longer embarrassed to look in the mirror" – and thanked her mum Sandra Johnson for being her inspiration.
Sandra was a Gold Weightwatcher herself and encouraged her daughter to eat the recommended foods.
Sandra Middleton is not bothered when friends walk past her and no longer recognise her, after losing 63lb.
Sandra, 47, of Bennett Road, Cleethorpes, said: "I don't have as much bread, biscuits and cheese as before. I still have them, but only a little a week and I go to Cleethorpes Leisure Centre a lot. I have a lot more energy now."
Rachael Hinz, 29, of Immingham, said when she was 70lb heavier she could not chase around after her nieces and nephews.
She sat in a rollercoaster at a theme park one day and realised the harness was not going to hold her, so she began her journey to a healthier lifestyle.
She said: "I decided enough is enough. I took up Zumba and stuck with it and now I teach it."
Immingham cleaner, Roxy Oliver, 22, found there was nothing in her wardrobe that fitted her, so started losing weight and dropped a whopping 44lb.
She said: "I joined after I had my son Ethan. I feel so much better in myself."
Joiner Kevin Atkin, 55, of Tintern Walk, Willows, Grimsby, who lost 42lb, said: "Being greedy was what did it for me. My blood sugar went haywire. Now I live a normal, healthy lifestyle and love cauliflower cheese."
Sweet-toothed Mary Parkin, 46, of Hainton Avenue, Grimsby, lost 21lb after learning she was at risk of becoming diabetic.
She said: "I do lots of walking and can do it without getting breathless. I go along the Promenade quite often. It is about moderating what you eat and learning what your triggers are. I still enjoy sweets. Nothing is ruled out. It is about leaving food and watching your portions."
Mandy Adams, who lost 38.5lb, said the support of her family eating similar foods had helped her, while Verity King, who lost 75lb, said her confidence and energy had returned, so she can now play with her children.
Julie Parkinson lost 43lb and said being overweight had exacerbated her asthma.
She said: "As I lost weight people gave me compliments and that gave me the motivation to carry on."
After losing 45lb Dawn Sharlotte said: "I have learned to understand labels a lot better and I now know about portion sizes. I am no longer breathless."
Husband and wife Jo and Martin Wiseman said their mutual support had helped both to lose weight.
Jo lost 84lb and said she is no longer worried about what people were thinking of her.
She said: "Colleagues are amazed and do a double take."
Martin lost 25lb and now regularly goes to the gym, but saves up his points so he can go "out with the lads".
Rose Wilson lost 42lb, and said she gained confidence as she lost weight.
She said: "I am happier to mix with others and join in events."
Ann Wilkinson lost 49lb – 34lb of which she lost during the 12-week course. She is focused on getting down to a dress size 12 from the size 20 she once was.
Practice nurse Michelle Bratley, of Weelsby Medical Centre, received an award on behalf of the practice for being the most proactive.
She said: "It is nice to see the results and see that it is working."
The award for GP practice, whose patients have lost the most weight, went to Scartho Medical Practice and was received by Vicky Lane, of the administration team.