Newmarket's July Festival Best Dressed - meet the woman who has dropped 13 dress sizes
"I was walking through the school canteen when a group of Year 9 girls stopped me. They said: ‘We’re really proud of you, Miss. We think you look amazing.’ At moments like that, I do feel proud.
When I joined Slimming World, in June 2015, I weighed 25st 9lbs. I’d already lost two stone by myself; at my heaviest, I was 27st 11lbs. I’d always been overweight: I was overweight by age 13. It was simply down to eating bad things - and lots of them. Those were the days when you could put a pound coin in a vending machine and get three chocolate bars with change. Which I frequently did.
Ahead of my wedding, my mum persuaded me to look at some plus-size dresses, but the largest they had was a 32 and that was too tight. Hence I lost the first two stone. I felt great on the wedding day itself, but when I saw the pictures I hated them. All I could see was my six chins and the rolls in my arms.
Shortly after that I went to the GP, because my husband and I were wanting to try for a baby. He told me I was too overweight to conceive - and that’s when I joined Slimming World.
My group, in Lakenheath, is amazing. The leader, Julie, and all the members - they’re just lovely people. I’d lost five stone on Slimming World before, when I was a student, so I knew it worked. And honestly I didn’t find it hard to stick to the plan: once I’ve decided to do something, I do it.
I’d have fruit for breakfast, a chicken or tuna salad with pasta or couscous for lunch, then something like a Slimming World-recipe bolognese or curry for dinner.
I’d lost my first five stone by Christmas, but it took me 12 months to lose the next five. I had a miscarriage in the May - I had three before we had James - which did set me back. By the summer of 2017 I’d hit target, 11st 5lbs, then I lost a bit more before going on holiday to New York: at my lightest, I was 10st 10lbs. I maintained for six months before falling pregnant with James, who arrived on January 3 this year. He’s just amazing; the loveliest little chap.
I gained 3st 3lbs during the pregnancy and pledged that I’d go back on Slimming World after my birthday at the end of January, which I did. Four months later, I’m back within my target range - and back in my size 8 jeans. I never thought I’d hear myself saying that. . . I was delighted to get down to a size 18.
For me, getting dressed up like this is such a treat: I’ve not really worn makeup since James was born and I love clothes - in fact, I like this jumpsuit so much, I’m going to have to buy it!"
Newmarket July Festival opens on July 11 with Ladies’ Day, when both Best Dressed Lady and Best Hat will be decided in the annual Style Awards. For more details and to book tickets, visit thejockeyclub.co.uk/newmarket
For more information about Slimming World and to find a local group, call Kelly Cooper on 07792 603204 and visit slimmingworld.co.uk
John Lewis & Partners frill sleeve jumpsuit, £99
John Lewis & Partners Cara feather quills and loop disc occasion hat, £120
Joules Sienna Floral cotton sarong, £29.95
John Lewis & Partners Keeva wedge-heel pink suede court shoes, £75
John Lewis & Partners long crystal and silver lariat necklace, £26
John Lewis & Partners faux pearl and cubic zirconia stretch bracelet, £14
The Personal Stylists at John Lewis & Partners Cambridge offer a wide range of services, including Holiday, Special Occasion, Workwear, Wardrobe Refresh and Perfect Pair of Jeans styling sessions. All are free, with no minimum spend required or obligation to buy. For more information and to book, go to johnlewis.com/our-services/personal-styling
The John Lewis & Partners Beauty Studio offers one-to-one skincare and cosmetics advice. To find out more, email TheBeautyStudio.Cambridge@JohnLewis.co.uk or call (01223) 22853.
Interview: Alice Ryan
Pictures: David Johnson
Styling: Helen Fletcher, John Lewis & Partners Personal Styling
Makeup: Phoebe Ann Brooks, John Lewis & Partners Beauty Studio