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32 stone Derek now a slimming champion

A charity worker lost nearly 18st after being called a "salad-dodger" in the streets by youths.

Derek Avery, 54, who weighed almost 32st, was diagnosed with diabetes the same day he found out he might lose his job at a mental health charity.

On a day he describes as 'Fateful Thursday', the Geordie, who already had high blood pressure, was told by his employers they had concerns about his ability to do his job.

And on his journey home from his office on Thursday June 5 last year, Mr Avery received abuse from two separate gangs of youths from passing cars.

He said: "I cried when I got home and the tears stung, but looking back it was the perfect storm because had those things happened on different days they might not have prompted me to take action in the same way."

Under the advice of his practice nurse and his sister-in-law, Sue, Mr Avery attended a Slimming World session two days later in Jesmond, Newcastle. Today he was named Slimming World's Man of the Year 2015.

He said: "It took me 25 minutes to walk a little journey which would now take me two. When I arrived (at Slimming World) I was sweaty, anxious and thought there would be no other men there.

"I found nothing but encouragement and warmth. I genuinely enjoy going to Slimming World every Saturday morning - we have fabulous fun - and I've made such good friends."

Mr Avery has not only lost the weight but has dropped seven clothes sizes and now has lower blood pressure and is free from all risk of diabetes.

Not only is Mr Avery healthier, but so is his bank balance. Originally having to pay for taxis everywhere to get around, Mr Avery saved the money to pay for a weekend away in Edinburgh with Graham, his partner of 25 years.

After feeling ashamed for "effectively disabling himself", Mr Avery said: "We walked all around the city and it was fantastic."

Mr Avery has got another challenge in mind now he has met his target weight of 14st 5lbs. He wants to zip wire from the top of the Baltic arts centre in Gateshead across the River Tyne.

With a fear of heights, Mr Avery believes "if I can do this I can do anything." He is hoping to complete this in September.


From Belfast Telegraph