BRIAN Fletcher never thought he would ever join a slimming group.

Not only did he think such groups were made up of women, but he did not think he needed to lose weight.

“I didn’t think I was that big,” says the train driver. But his outlook changed when his doctor advised he lose weight to improve his health.

In August 2017 the father-of-three, who lives in Wrose, was involved in a car accident which left him in hospital for three and a half months.

As well as needing spinal surgery following the collision he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and became depressed.

“I was unable to walk and be mobile for nearly a year - a lot of the times I was in bed,” he recalls. “When I could move it was with the aid of crutches and a walking stick. I started eating for comfort and drinking daily to help me sleep and relax.”

When Brian left hospital he weighed 15stone 5lbs, but as he battled back to health his weight rose to 19 stone 4llbs - the heaviest he had ever been.

“I went to my G.P and hospital and was told I had a fatty Liver and I had to make changes to my lifestyle or I would have serious health issues,” he says.

He decided that he was not going to join a slimming group. “I told my wife, Michelle, I can do it myself,” he says.

But Michelle, who herself attended a weekly Slimming World class, persuaded him to give it a go. “When I arrived I was shocked to see two other men sitting in the hall,” he recalls. “I was met by Amanda the class consultant. She was so friendly and everyone welcomed me - I felt at ease straight away.”

At the class, exactly a year ago, he stepped on the scales for the first time. “That day that changed my life,” he says. “I weighed in at 18st 11lbs.

“At that first meeting I listened as Amanda read out the weight losses and a few gains that people had reported during the last week. “I thought how supportive everyone was,” he says. “I listened with interest to the journeys that everyone was going on. How they had lost the weight, what they had made for their dinners and teas and how they could change what they were doing.

With help from Michelle, as well as the booklets and communication from the Facebook group, Brian was able to plan his first week.

“My eating habits changed straight away. I ate healthier foods at the right times. I could not believe what I could eat and still diet. I thought I would have to starve myself to succeed but I was wrong.”

He returned to class to find he hear the words “Well done Brian”. “I had managed to lose 7lbs in my first week, I was ecstatic - never did I think I would be able to do this. “The other members in the group clapped and I felt so good in myself, I felt like I belonged there We have a laugh and a joke at the meetings and exchange ideas for meals.”

By October Brian had lost 6st 4oz. “My health has improved, my physical looks are far better, my energy levels are higher and I feel great,” he says. “I am now at my target weight and maintaining.”

Brian has received many slimming awards and proudly displays his stickers and certificates on his fridge.

“I also got Man of the Year and together with Michelle we got the Couple of the Year award.”

He adds: “I hope my story encourages people, in particular men, to join and succeed as I have.”

Danielle Pearlman has her mum to thanks for her new look. But her journey towards a slimmer self has not been easy.

“I began my journey in May 2019, kicking and screaming,” she says.

“I’ve struggled with my weight all my life,” she says. “Yo-yoing, fad diets, irregular exercise - it would work short term and I lost a bit here and there.

“I also have an under-active thyroid for which I take medication.”

She adds: “After I had my youngest in 2017, my weight became out of control and I piled it on, juggling a newborn, studying for my degree, being a single parent. I ate what I could, when I could, without thinking.”

By 2019 her weight had become such that she was approved for a gastric bypass - surgery which reduces the size of the stomach so a patient feels full quickly.

“Even though I’d finally got the green light that I was a suitable candidate, I was

told that I would still have to wait a further 12-18 months for a surgery date,” she says.

At more than 20 stone, she felt she needed to act straight away.

“My mum asked, in a way that made it hard to say no, if I’d go to Slimming World with her as moral support,” says Danielle, 36, of Eccleshill, who has three sons aged 12, ten and two. “I knew that what she really wanted to do was to help me with my spiralling weight, so, after sulking and kicking up a fuss, I reluctantly agreed.”

After the first week, even after losing 6lb, Danielle wasn’t convinced, “ But, I kept coming back. After my third week, my attitude started to change, I was making healthy food decisions without even thinking about it and had less interest in takeaways and sweets.”

Instead she opted for what the plan calls ‘free foods’ - everyday foods like lean meat and fish, pasta, rice, grains, vegetables, fruit, eggs and fat-free dairy - that you can eat a lot of of without piling on the pounds.

She also ate plenty of so-called ‘speed foods’ such as blueberries, cucumber, radishes, celery and grapes, which are not only good for you, but can potentially speed up weight loss.

“After about six weeks, I was noticing changes in my skin and my energy levels were up,” she says. “I was able to play in the park with my boys, chase after them and have a kick about. I was feeling so good.”

To motivate her to carry on exercising she signed up for Body Magic, a stage-by-stage activity programme which complements the Slimming World eating plan by helping group members improve their overall health and wellbeing while aiding weight management.

Danielle, who studied graphic media design at Bradford College, goes to a gym and also enjoys roller derby, both activities helping to aid weight loss and keep her fit.

Now, eight months on, she has achieved a bronze, silver and gold Body Magic award from Slimming World, several Slimmer of the Week awards and a Slimmer of the Month title.

To date she has lost four and a half stone loss and instead of having to shop for clothes in size 24, she now wears 16/18.

She is not resting on her laurels. “I keep a record of everything I eat and am eating far more healthily. I cook with fresh ingredients and don’t buy takeaways, which is good for my sons to see.”

As the months tick down, she is becoming less and less keen on the idea of surgery and is carrying on with Slimming World.

“My proudest moment so far was being able to attend my graduation four stones lighter, wearing clothes that I wanted to wear, looking and feeling great,” she says.

“All this would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of Amanda, the fantastic people in the group and of course, my mum.”

Amanda is extremely proud of both Brian and Danielle and of what they have achieved.

*Amanda’s Slimming World classes are held at Bolton Methodist Church, Bolton Junction, BD2 4LB at various times during the week. She can be contacted on 07971185089. She is also on

For information about all Slimming World classes in Bradford visit