Froms pounds to stone for Hemsby couple

IT was meant to be a little diet ahead of an exotic holiday break – but for one Hemsby couple it turned into a whole lot more.

Prompted by a two-week trip to Turkey in September, grandparents Richard and Julie Parker decided they would each lose a stone.

Four months on, and prison guard Richard’s dramatic slimming efforts have meant he can give blood again, while he and Julie feel happier, fitter and more confident.

Richard, who is now just under 20 stone after losing four stone seven pounds, first started piling on the weight when he stopped smoking after having a heart attack eight years ago.

The 56-year-old said: “I put on four or five stone, and had problems with my blood pressure and other related issues.”

“Now my blood pressure is better than it’s been for 20 years, I’m on less medication for it and the health implications have been superb – I feel better than I have for ages.”

It was not just a taste for fatty snacks that Richard had to overcome.

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When the former rugby player first went to the Slimming World group in Martham with his wife he was just one of two men among 40 women.

But Richard, who said he initially found it “quite daunting”, found that with the group’s support, regular trips to the gym and a balanced diet, the pounds were falling off.

“If you’re a bigger fella you’re always the butt of people’s jokes and that can become quite upsetting,” he said.

“Now I think both my wife and I will tell you that our self-esteem is better, due to silly things like being able to walk into a high street shop and buy clothes instead of having to get ones in special sizes.”

For 53-year-old Julie, who weighed 19 stone in the summer but has since lost nearly three stone, slimming together as a family has been key.

She said: “It’s important to have that kind of support. Richard really wanted to start and I decided to join him, and our daughter Diane has also lost two stone recently.

“We’re really pleased with how things have gone and we’re proud of each other”

Now the couple make exercise a regular part of their lives, whether walking their rescue dog, Max, or hitting the treadmills, and hope to carry on the weight loss despite being in the season of temptation.

Richard added: “It will be challenging over Christmas, but it was challenging in Turkey because it was an all-inclusive and we did well then.

“We won’t overdo it; we’ve got a turkey in the freezer but we may have to seriously consider things like stuffing and ‘pigs in blankets’, and I want to get back to being to under 17 stones by next year.”

The couple have stopped snacking on fatty foods and instead turn to a nice piece of fruit when they feel peckish.