When Robert Cornes returned home from the holiday of a lifetime in New York at the end of 2016 he knew something had to change.

He’d spent most of his holiday eating and drinking “like there was no tomorrow” and his work as a chef meant that he snacked on unhealthy food in the restaurant kitchen.

Robert, from Widnes, met his now wife Nicola and together they decided to lose weight.

The Widnes couple were so successful on their Swimming World journey that Robert has decided to open his own group meetings in Runcorn, starting this month.

Robert, who is 36, said: “I thought Slimming World was just for women but man, was I wrong!

“Nicola said she was going to join and I said I’d support her but didn’t want to go to the group myself.

“I had a rethink and we both signed up but I was nervous because I’d convinced myself that men didn’t go to Slimming World groups and I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb.

“I needn’t have worried because walking into our first class I immediately felt accepted and everyone made us both feel welcome.”

As a chef, Robert had struggled with his weight for years and he topped the scales at 17 stone.

Joining the weekly group sessions meant that he and Nicola could start the food optimising plan which still allowed the couple to eat things they enjoyed.

Robert said: “I couldn’t believe the variety of foods I could eat – pizzas, fish and chips and spaghetti bolognaise as well as full English breakfasts.

“I was in my element and the weight started to drop off.

“When lockdown hit I started the couch to 5km running plan and I fell in love with running – I do around 20-25km a week now.”

Robert, who has lost three stone, is embracing his new fitness regime and has signed up to run the half marathon in Warrington later this year.

His new classes at The Heath in Runcorn will start on Monday 10, with the first session taking place virtually via Zoom.

Robert said: “I’ve fallen in love with my new lifestyle and I want to help, support and motivate others to achieve their own weight loss dreams.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone and supporting them on their Slimming World journey.”