Grandfather is a big slimmer
Adam Gretton Two years ago, Dick Baker was a ticking cholesterol and blood pressure time bomb who was told that he would be lucky to see his next birthday.
By ADAM GRETTON
Two years ago Dick Baker was a ticking cholesterol and blood- pressure time bomb who was told that he would be lucky to see his next birthday.
But the grandfather from Norfolk is literally half the man he used to be after losing an incredible 16st to be in the running to become the country's "greatest loser" when it comes to his waistline.
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The 69-year-old, from Hockwold, near Brandon, who was approaching 30st, has shed more than half his body weight after receiving a stark warning from his doctor in December 2005.
"He said 'if you want to see September you'd better do something about it'," said Mr Baker.
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So the retired lorry driver joined his local Slimming World club at Brandon on January 3, 2006 and has now reached his target weight of 14st and dramatically improved his quality of life.
Mr Baker, who in the past had to buy his 64in-waist trousers and 22in- collar shirts from a shop in Sheffield specialising in clothes for the larger man, has gone down to a 40in waistline and 16in neckline.
"Two years ago, I could not walk 10 metres without being out of breath and having to sit down," he said.
"I would get up in the morning and fall asleep reading the newspaper and would fall asleep while playing bingo on a Wednesday.
"But now I can walk, cycle, play bowls and walk around Norwich all day without feeling tired and my cholesterol and blood pressure is right down. I feel like a new man," he said.
The father-of-two and grandfather-of-three has impressed his friends, family, doctor and organisers at his local Slimming World branch so much that he has reached the final of the organisation's Greatest Loser competition, which will take place in London later this month.
Mr Baker, who has been named in the final 10 out of more than 350,000 Slimming World members, said he was "surprised" that he had been invited to the awards ceremony at Kensington Roof Gardens on April 29.
The Hockwold parish councillor said he had "enjoyed" the experience, which involved him cutting out fatty foods, big fry-ups, bread, late-night biscuits and crisps, and adopting a more "common- sense" balanced diet.
He added that fish and chips, chocolate and cake were still allowed as an occasional treat.
Mr Baker continued his commitment to the "rigorous" diet, despite the death of his wife, Beryl, in the new year.
Julie Steele, Slimming World consultant for Brandon and Feltwell, said Mr Baker was an "excellent" member and deserved the "greatest loser" title.