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Gain a new hobby and lose pounds

PUBLISHED: 10:34 06 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:01 03 July 2010

WHEN mother-of-six Gwen Yallop enrolled on a gardening course, she expected to learn about shrubs, trees and herbaceous borders.

But as well as a qualification which could help her in a new career, she has dropped two dress sizes and gained tonnes of self confidence.

WHEN mother-of-six Gwen Yallop enrolled on a gardening course, she expected to learn about shrubs, trees and herbaceous borders.

But as well as a qualification which could help her in a new career, she has dropped two dress sizes and gained tonnes of self confidence.

Mrs Yallop, who lives in Gorleston, enrolled on a land-based studies course at Yarmouth college in September, deciding to go back to work after staying at home to raise her six sons.

And the course, which involves activities like digging, mowing, pushing wheelbarrows and laying paving slabs, has had its benefits for her waistline as well as her academic side as she has lost nearly three stone and dropped from a size 20 to a 16 during the programme.

She said that she started to notice a difference within weeks of starting the 16-hours-a-week course, where she has learnt to nurture potatoes, prepare turf for a lawn and grow lilies from cuttings.

“I've gone from a size 20 to a 16 since we started. I felt fitter straight away and as we were doing digging to start with the weight started dropping off.

“A lot of it is repetitive work, picking up pots and a lot of bending so it's toning and building the muscles. We're getting our qualification and getting fit and healthy,” she said.

Mrs Yallop, 48, had spent years at home raising her sons, who are now aged between 18 and 26, and volunteering for a few hours a week at Homestart, a charity which helps families with young children.

She became interested in plants after tending her own back garden and decided to enrol on the college course so that she could get back to work doing something she enjoyed.

Now she hopes that her qualification will lead to a job with Yarmouth Borough Council's parks and grounds maintenance team.

She added: “When I was at home I tended to eat too much in the day because it was there and now I'm here I don't. I also used to smoke 60 a day and I've cut that down now to about 20.”

Her classmate Heather Daniels, 19, who has been nominated as student of the month alongside Mrs Yallop, said that the course has also helped her to get in shape as she has dropped from a size 16 to a slender 12.

She said that she feels she has found her niche in life and hopes to go on to work in a nursery or garden centre. “This makes exercise part of our lifestyle in the fresh air too and when we get jobs we'll be doing it all the time,” she said.

Tutor Colin Peckham said that doing at least five hours of outdoor work each week on the course is great exercise for his pupils. He said: “It's all very physical and I'm not surprised they're noticing a difference. I've always noticed the lads who came here from school developed physically, building their muscles over the year. This might be a good way to attract more females on to our courses.”


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