Couple lose 15 stone to win slimming title after holiday flight fears
A couple who feared they would have to abandon a dream holiday after struggling to fasten their seat belts on the plane have lost nearly 15 stone between them in seven months.
Andrew Butler was travelling to Dubai with his wife Paula in November 2014 when she told him she would not fly if she had to ask for a seat belt extension.
The pair, who married in 2005, have been named Slimming World's Couple of the Year after losing more than 14st 9lb by following a healthy diet.
Mr Butler, 37, said: "We worked really hard to save the money for the trip, but Paula told me that she'd get off the flight rather than have to ask for an extension for her seat belt - she said she just couldn't have faced the embarrassment.
"We both only just managed to make our belts close but we promised ourselves we wouldn't set foot on another plane until we'd lost weight. When we saw the photos from that holiday it made us even more determined to make a change."
Mrs Butler, 43, had battled with her weight since she was a teenager, suffering chronic asthma and knee pain, and weighed 20st 11lb, while Mr Butler weighed 22st 13lb after putting on 6st since giving up smoking in 2012.
They joined Slimming World in January last year, inspired by Mrs Butler's sister Diane, and swapped a diet of chocolate bars, fizzy drinks and takeaway dinners for fruit, salads and home cooking.
In seven months, Mr Butler, a machine feeder for an engineering firm, lost 7st 9lb and his wife managed to lose more than 7st to drop from dress size 26 to size 16.
Even the death of her sister in April last year from a short illness did not derail the couple's determination to lose weight.
Mrs Butler said: "Losing Diane could have thrown us off track with our weight loss, yet it made us want to finish our journey more than ever - we know she'd be so proud of what we've achieved."
The couple, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, have recently taken up roller skating and are now planning a watersports holiday.
"We've always avoided theme parks because we worried we'd be too big for the rides and we've always wanted to try watersports on holiday, too. Now we can do all of those things without fear - and we can't wait to get started," Mrs Butler said.