Grenoside teenager Thomas Lowson felt he only had a slim chance of going to university when he topped the scales at 24 stones and was so unhappy his grades started to suffer.
But this week he started an English degree at Leeds Trinity University, boosted by his feat of shedding 10 stones in 10 months.
And things only got better for the former Hillsborough College student when he picked up the award for Most Improved Student at the Best in Education awards.
“I decided to change my life when I went to a sixth form school and it didn’t work out,” he said.
“I was bullied throughout school and sixth form and I weighed 24 stones at my heaviest. When I moved to Hillsborough and started on a weight loss programme it changed my life so much.
“It was all about applying myself and staff and newfound friends supported me. Everyone was so kind and friendly – it was hard not to feel cared as opposed to when I was at sixth form and very much isolated,” he said.
“Nobody knew my history or that everyone called me names. I was no longer the butt of everyone’s jokes and I had a real fresh start.
“Everything at university seems new at the moment but I feel a lot more confident in myself and when I meet new people I find it easy to come out of my shell.
“I feel like a different person. I’m so excited to be going to uni. This is the first time I’ll be starting something as a slim person.
“This is a brilliant new start for me. I know my future is a bright one. I now know I can do anything,” Thomas added.
Thomas was delighted to receive his award from his former principal at Hillsborough College, Heather Smith.
Highly commended in the same category was Barnsley College student Adam Goodwin, winner of the top Principal’s Award at the end of year show.
Adam, who studies 3D design, designed a crash helmet inspired by his hero Valentino Rossi, the Italian professional motorcycle world champion. The helmet echoed the lines of Rossi’s motorcycle and took three months to complete.
*Sponsored by: Sheffield College Sheffield College