A self-confessed ugly duckling who became a swan after losing a colossal 15 stones is now giving the benefit of her experience to other would-be slimmers.
Alexandra Haynes, 29, had endured a miserable school career as the much-bullied class “fattie”.
At the age of 22 and weighing in at 28.5 stone, she knew she had to take herself in hand and signed up at the local branch of Weight Watchers.
The mum-of-two said: “If I had thought about the enormity of the challenge I had ahead of me, I would never had set out on it.
“But I never set myself a target. I just wanted to lose as much weight as I could.
“My father, Graeme Brady, was my big inspiration, although my mum and brother helped too. I felt like every little goal I got we reached together. His saying was, I always knew you would become my beautiful swan.”
“This is something he often told me when I was growing up, particularly when bullies made life difficult for me at school.”
Mrs Haynes continued to lose weight and when she reached 17.5 stone she became pregnant with the first of her two sons. While she was pregnant Mr Brady continued to encourage her to eat healthily.
Sadly, Mr Brady died suddenly a few years ago, leaving Mrs Haynes devastated and angry.
She said: “Rather than giving up, I looked through my dad’s photos and reminded myself just how far I had come and why dad would want me to continue.
“I miss dad every single day but I know just how proud he would be of me and ‘the swan I became’.
Mrs Haynes in her heavyweight days
Now Mrs Haynes, from Devizes, tips the scales at a dainty 13.5 stone and has trained as a Weight Watchers leader, even leading classes in Swindon. This month she started her first meetings, helping other residents with weight problems realise their goals.
She said: “I have now become a leader and run several meetings a week in Swindon.
“Now I am privileged as a leader to have been given the chance to support others in changing their life as Weight Watchers has mine.
“If I can help give back the support I received from the fantastic leaders I had I can not think of anything more rewarding.
“They can see what a difference weight loss has made for me and if I can do it, so can they.”
Mrs Haynes’s husband Paul, although he is delighted with his wife’s achievement, is not overwhelmed.
Mrs Haynes said: “Paul knew me when I was at my heaviest, so he loves me whatever size I am.”