BEING diagnosed with diabetes was the wake up call Richard Hannam needed to lose weight - now it's become a real family affair!

Richard, who lives in Bradford with his wife Beverley and son Adam, explains how despite being active and participating in many sports he had been overweight all his life.

Pulling pints in bars after leaving school and eventually running his own pub as a landlord at 21 didn't help, nor did Richard's penchant for sweets, chocolate and takeaways.

He was 33 when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes which he initially controlled with medication before being put on insulin.

Now 49, Richard knew he had to do something for the sake of his health, but while more men are signing up to slimming clubs, many often don't feel as comfortable joining what is a predominantly female environment.

"It's because it is like a lady populated thing. I wouldn't have dreamed of walking through the doors on my own if it hadn't been for Paul," explains Richard, referring to his pal, Paul Hartley, who he met through their workplace Peckover Transport, Bradford where Richard works as a transport manager.

After seeing his pal's weight loss progress, Richard decided to join him - and he cannot believe the difference it has made to his life - and his health.

Richard was 21 stone and five pounds when he signed up to his local Slimming World session at Idle Baptist Church on August 23 2016. By Christmas he had lost three stone.

"I couldn't believe what I had already achieved," says Richard.

One of the greatest benefits was the impact Richard's weight loss was having on his health.

"I had to have regular check ups at my diabetic clinic because I was noticing a difference in how I was feeling. My diabetic nurse was amazed in my blood sugar readings," explains Richard.

"I would never have thought there was going to be such a big change so quickly, never mind what was going to happen."

Richard recalls an appointment at the diabetic clinic. "The readings I produced were those of a none diabetic. My nurse's face was a picture!" he explains.

"I now no longer take any medication for diabetes and I feel amazing."

Richard says his original target weight was to lose four stone. "I reached that and was over the moon."

He increased his target to five stone after signing up for the Yorkshire Three Peaks. "I was going to the gym regularly and actually did a 10 mile trek up Whernside. I felt amazing just being able to do that," recalls Richard.

However, two weeks before he was due to do the Three Peaks challenge, Richard fell off his bike and cracked a couple of ribs forcing him to put it off until July this year. He is also taking part in a 26 mile fundraising walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal in April.

He describes being voted 'Man of the Year' at his Slimming World group in May as 'an amazing feeling.'

"Also to be told by people that I was an inspiration to others was an unbelievable feeling. I was on top of the world," he says.

Keeping it in the family, Richard's wife joined at the beginning of July last year. His brother Robert and other friends have also joined.

In August last year Richard learned he had finally achieved his five stone target. It was a momentous occasion.

"In the last 12 months my life has changed so much and that's all because of Slimming World," he says.

"Obviously the main aim is to lose weight, but what I have achieved along side that is as important if not more important.

"To be no longer on insulin or any medication at all is a dream. Everybody had been right behind me on my journey and I have met some amazing new friends who are part of my Slimming World family."

Richard credits his good friend Paul who initially inspired him to join Slimming World, his wife and his Slimming World consultant Nicola Barker with helping him to achieve his success.

"I am eternally grateful to all involved. Anybody thinking of joining Slimming World, stop thinking, do it. It's a life changer," says Richard.

"The change in my life is immense."

Slimming World consultant, Nicola Barker, says: "The increase in men joining groups is absolutely on the rise, I currently support 30+ men across my now five sessions, some joining with their partners. Some coming along on their own or with a friend. It's really great to see!"

Commenting on Richard's slimming success, Nicola says: "The change in Richard is breathtaking; not only his physically transformation, but with his new found confidence too, it is an an honour to have been a part of his success as a slimmer. He is a valued member of group and he is always there to help and support his fellow members with hints, tips and ideas. I am extremely proud of him and I know he will continue to inspire other to follow in his steps. Richard you are amazing!"

Dr Waqas Tahir, GP and Clinical Lead for Diabetes at Bradford Care Alliance says: “Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges people face in Bradford. 500 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes across the UK every day; that’s the equivalent of one person every three minutes.

“Developing diabetes can put us at greater risk of other conditions and complications, for example, cardiovascular disease such as stroke or heart disease, kidney disease, sexual dysfunction or complications in pregnancy and in extreme cases, an increased risk of undergoing an amputation due to nerve damage.

“Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by lifestyle factors and is preventable in most people. Obesity and lack of physical activity are two of the most common causes of this form of diabetes. Obesity accounts for 80-85% of the overall risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and underlies the current global spread of this condition.

“There are simple steps we can all take to reduce our chances of developing type 2 diabetes or reducing the seriousness of the condition, for example, by reducing our alcohol intake, stopping smoking, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet. By losing weight, people with type 2 diabetes can become less insulin resistant, and they’re able to use insulin better. Modest weight loss of 5-10% of your body weight is likely to produce health benefits such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars.

“It’s important that you speak with your GP before making any changes to medication you may be taking for type 2 diabetes, including insulin. Your GP or practice nurse can also provide information and support on managing the condition or reducing your risk of developing it."

Bradford City and Bradford District Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are offering people at significant risk of diabetes across Bradford a place on the new NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

For more information or advice visit your GP or talk to your practice nurse.