Gareth Davey

The New Me - Thanks to Jilly Lee


September 2010 was a lovely month. My world was perfect. Good weather, a fantastic Bed and Breakfast that was more like a boutique hotel, and Cornwall in autumn, up there with the most beautiful places in the world never mind England.

It was one of the first holidays we had had alone together, my Army days and becoming parents in our late teens had seen to that. After 23 years together it was time for a childless break!

After a couple of days sightseeing, which included St Austell, St Ives and Tintagel we found ourselves on a warm and clear afternoon walking ankle-deep in seawater across the causeway back from St Michaels Mount in Marazion. It was so picturesque, warm and pleasant that my wife Tracey offered to take my photo. I agreed of course, we were on holiday after all!

This was the photo that would signal the start of a chain of events that would change almost every aspect of my life. In fact it was probably the moment that the ‘new me’ was born…

We reviewed the photos when we got back to the B&B and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The realisation that, for the past 3 years I had been in denial of my obesity, suddenly hit me. I looked at the image and saw an overweight old man who unsurprisingly couldn’t walk more than a few hundred metres without being in pain or out of breath. I was in my early 40’s and looked like I was in my late 50s. I recalled a statistic I had been told when leaving the Army some 3 years before…

“Only 1 in 10 full service soldiers survive to their 65th birthday”


I suddenly realised I wanted to be the 1 not one of the 9. I had to do something about my weight.

We finished our holiday but my wife must have noticed how distant I was thinking about ‘that’ photo. The six hour trip back to Northampton was a blur. The photo and what to do was all I could think about. I honestly to this day don’t remember the drive home. What I did remember was reading about a new slimming club starting locally and how a couple of my friends had lost a fair bit of weight. Could I do it? It’s for women isn’t it…..?

Ideally I didn’t want to go to an established group and feel like an outsider. To be honest the thought of a female slimming group was daunting enough, I decided to try and find a new group starting up. At least we would be on the same level.

I found such a group and on 16th Sept 2010 my journey began. I joined around 25 other new starters at a local primary school for the inaugural night in the group run by the wonderful (if slightly mad!!) Jill Lee. How shocked surprised and happy was I? Everyone was lovely. I was the only fella there but was made to feel completely at home.

Jilly brought everyone together that night. She introduced herself very nervously as the ‘Dummy Brummy’ and her honesty just endeared her to us more.  I work as a Technical Trainer teaching/training adults and I know exactly how hard it can be. She made loads of mistakes and looked totally overawed by it all. But this is why we all loved her instantly because everything that night was new to her too. We were ALL starting together!!

After a couple of weeks she became more and more confident and this showed in the results with the group. We were actually losing weight!! I lost 7lb in my first week, and others had similar results. This was great a bunch of new friends all being successful together, all made easier by the easy to follow SW plan. I started looking forward to Thursday nights and soon volunteered to be part of the social team helping Jilly with the various tasks. I started off as a ‘meeter and greeter’ but soon progressed to operating the scales and recording the results. I could not wait to get on the scales every week.


After 5 months I had lost just under 3st. Because my weight loss was good, the girls started looking to me for advice which I was glad to give. An overview of my weight loss is below:

In Sept 2011 our group celebrated 1 year in existence. As I calculated the stats every week, I worked out that we were losing an average of around  4 stone  (25kg) per week as a group. This meant that in a year Jilly had overseen a loss of OVER 200 Stones (1,270kg) of weight.  Amazing!! I announced this on the night and Jilly looked shocked. She understandably  burst into tears . She had changed so many lives in such a short time.

In Feb 2012 I reached my 4 stone target. I got fairly emotional myself. Everyone I knew had noticed and said that I looked so much younger. I took some more photos and named the album ‘’New Me’’ because this is how I felt.

A few short weeks late my wife and I flew away to Sydney Australia for our 25th wedding anniversary. We loved the city and the country even more as I was active now. I was  running regularly and it showed. We climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and walked pain free and without being out of breath for miles. I was weighed before a helicopter flight and was proud to see the scales. I sat on the beach without a shirt on. What a turnaround.

During the first SW group back in England I announced I would be doing my best to return to Oz for good. I don’t think anyone believed me or took me seriously.

In June 2012 I landed once again in Sydney, this time in possession of a 4 year sponsored working visa and with all my worldly possessions either in my suitcase or in a container on a ship. The week before I left contained may goodbyes with friends and family, but none as hard as my last night at the slimming club with Jill.

I am writing this in my Sydney Northern Beaches apartment less than 300m from the Tasman Sea/South Pacific Ocean in a lovely place called Collaroy. It is the final stage of the rest of my life. My visa says I can stay for 4 years but to be honest I plan on staying a lot longer.

It’s amazing to think where I was before I met Jill, and doubly amazing to think what can be achieved after looking at an awful photo. All you need is a group of fantastic people led by someone as wonderful as Jill Lee.

Thanks Jill you have changed my life x

Leanne Pinchin

The first time I walked into slimming club Jilly was running I was so nervous but Jilly soon had me feeling very relaxed and welcome.Over the weeks I realised that Jilly was not running the group for some extra cash but because she genuinely cared about each and everyone in the groups losses ( I have seen her in tears over success's no matter how big or small they are)I always loved the midweek text to make sure I was on track she always made sure we knew she was always there for support. Jilly soon became a friend and the whole group was like family we had so much fun in groups. Jilly is one in a million who not only  the best weight loss consultant I have ever come across ( and i have met a few).I wish you all the luck in the world Jilly no one could go wrong joining one of your groups,I can't wait till i am on honeymoon next year I will sneak in to one of your groups for a weigh in hee hee xxxxx

Julie Green

Hi Jilly,
I just wanted to say a BIG thankyou for being a wonderful consultant, and helping me lose my weight, I've been to lots of slimming clubs, and had no success, but you helped me all the way through my 2 years every step of the way, and I can't thankyou enough for being so kind thoughtful and helpful,I'm going to miss you when you leave,but I'm hoping to maintain my weight now you have helped me get to my goal.
Many thanks
Julie Green

Lindsey Bell

I was with you on the first day of your first group in Northampton, you were so nervous, but you gave it your best and you did great!  Over the weeks that passed you went from strength to strength and held the classes attention at all times.  To the point that at many of your meetings you had in excess of 60 members.  You were so friendly, warm and genuinely pleased for every single person that lost or maintained.  You were so committed to helping those that found the process difficult, but you kept them coming, you made them determined to lose weight!!
For me personally, it was a slow and steady process, but after 10 months I lost 2 stone and I cannot tell you how amazing I felt.  I, like so many of us owe that to you Jill!  You never gave up on anyone of us.  Your classes were full of laughs, informative and fun.    You are truly a lovely lady,  and you made many friends over the two years of classes at Bridgewater Drive.
Just wanted to wish you all the best in your new Spanish venture Jilly.  You deserve all the success, that I know you will have!! 
Love Linz xxxx

Hazel Hope

I do like my food, & with Jilly;s plan you can still love your food, its a wonderful way to eat and shrink my friend & I have both lost 5 stone each in about 18 months, its not a quick fix, just a healthy way of life, we still have enjoyable nights out & party. Thank you Jilly, x


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