Norwich slimmers meet football star after losing more than 12 stone between them
PUBLISHED: 10:58 03 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:59 04 August 2019
Two men from Norwich made the semi-finals of a competition to find the UK and Ireland's top male slimmers.
Neil Ferris, 61, and Richard Stafferton, 52, were two of 37 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World's Man of the Year 2019 competition after losing more than 12st 1lb between them.
It was there they were congratulated by the former England, Leicester City and Liverpool striker Emile Heskey.
Mr Ferris, who slimmed from 18st 10lbs to 12st 8lbs at the Thorpe St Andrew Slimming World group, said he knows how difficult it can be for men to admit they are unhappy with their weight and that it can be even more difficult to have the courage to do something about it.
He said: "I was encouraged to join Slimming World by my friend.
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"I'm so glad I took that step to find my Slimming World group, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
"I have MS so losing weight has really helped improve my overall health."
Mr Stafferton, who went from 20st 5lbs to 14st 6lbs at the Norwich Slimming World group, said: "When I thought about losing weight I thought I'd have to cut out all of my favourite meals and go hungry but I couldn't have been more wrong.
"Getting to meet Emile was brilliant too. I never imagined I would be part of a slimming competition when I first set out on this journey, let alone meeting someone like Emile Heskey - it's incredible!"
Heskey, who gained over 60 caps playing for England, said he was blown away by the achievements of the men he met at the competition.
He said: "As a footballer, being fit and active has always been at the forefront of my mind and I know how much effort and dedication it can take to stay healthy - both mentally and physically. It was a pleasure to meet Neil and Richard and hear about their transformations - it's hard to believe that they ever had a problem with their weight."