Neil Richardson is nearly half the man he used to be.
But after shedding a staggering 12 stone and five pounds – in just seven months – the Barnsley slimmer also feels he is twice the dad.
Swapping pasties and pints for fruit and salads has paid off in many other ways, one of which was scooping £3,000 when Neil was crowned Slimming World’s Man of the Year award.
Neil, aged 31, said: “So many wonderful things have happened to me since I lost weight. The clothes, the photoshoots, the accolades, the TV appearances.
“But the biggest prize of all was winning the dads’ egg-and-spoon race at the school sports day! That’s the day my daughter Josie said, ‘I’m proud of you, Daddy’.”
Known as ‘Fat Neil’ to his friends, the dad-of-two weighed in at 26st 5lbs after being a ‘chubby child’ and work as a roadie.
Finding 52ins waist jeans was a nightmare, and the fear of not fitting in an aeroplane seat very real, while Neil was too high a risk for standard life insurance.
He was spurred into action when his four-year-old daughter Josie’s new friend at a holiday camp refused to sit with the ‘big fat man’.
Neil, who works with students with special educational needs, said: “Josie’s little face scrunched up in disappointment and as she tried to hold back her tears, I suddenly saw myself as others must see me.
“The realisation hit me like a sledgehammer.
“I was a dad who’d gladly die for my children, who’d do anything to avoid them feeling a moment of pain, yet here I was upsetting Josie just because I couldn’t control what I was putting in my mouth.”
Neil lost impressive pounds from the first week he attended Slimming World classes and was so surprised he asked to check the scales.
He defied takeaway temptation by thinking about Josie and currently weighs 14st – healthy for his 5ft 10ins height.
Now he can buy regular clothes, enjoy cycle rides and is looking forward to a family holiday in Ibiza with the £3,000 prize money.
Neil said: “There will be no more worrying about aeroplane seats for me, or ﬁtting on the rides at theme parks or how I might look in swimming trunks.
“I feel like a winner every day now.”