Having the harrowing experience of seeing a loved one lose his life to a heart condition has inspired a Stockton man to try to lose half his body weight.
When Ronald Hampson, 71, died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on December 2, James Neal was among the family members who were by his side.
Shocked by the experience of seeing his father-in-law Mr Hampson die so suddenly and of seeing other patients with heart problems at the hospital, James, who weighed 25 stone 13 pounds and is 5ft 8ins tall, decided his own life needed a drastic change.
He said: “Being in there shocked me into realising I’m being a bit silly.
“I’ve decided to turn a positive into a negative because being there in the last hour of Ron’s life will always stay with me.
“The years have gone on and I’m 32 now and it’s time for me to start looking after myself because I don’t want anything to happen to me early. ”
James began a health and fitness regime on January 3 with the aim of reducing his body mass index (BMI) from its 55.7 score to the ‘ideal’ 20-25 – between 9st 4lb and 11st 9lb. He has set up an online JustGiving page for people to support his progress by making donations to the British Heart Foundation.
James, a stepfather of five, said: “Being overweight is all my own doing. I was always a big child but it got worse when I left primary school and what little exercise I did stopped completely.
“I’ve missed out on so much in my life like when the children have been playing and I’ve only been able to stand and watch.
“I’m hoping I’ll be able to go to the high street and buy the normal sized clothes I haven’t been able to.”
James’s new lifestyle includes eating a sensible, low calorie, diet and going to the gym at least three times a week.
He weighed himself for the first time in just over a month on Monday and he has lost a stone so far.
And the Stockton FC vice chairman’s first goal is to be able to announce at the football club’s New Year’s Eve party that he weighs less than 20 stone.
James said: “The part I most dreaded was actually going to the gym because I thought people would be like ‘what are you doing in here?’.
“But I’m feeling really positive and the support I have received has been a massive boost.”
James has thanked the staff and management at the Everyone Active gym in Southam for giving him a year’s free complimentary pass and for the help they have given him, his friend Susan Hinsley for spurring him on and her partner Matthew Barnes for providing him with fitness and nutrition advice.
He is aiming to raise at least £2,000 for the British Heart Foundation, with almost £500 being donated already. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/James-Neal2 for more.