John Barrowman-lookalike takes centre stage after losing more than 9st

A dad-of-four has won theatre roles and been mistaken for actor and singer John Barrowman since losing 9st 2lbs. And now he’s taking on another leading role after being named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek 2016.

At his heaviest Martin Woodsford weighed more than 24st and suffered a string of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sciatica and severe back pain, which left him fearing he wouldn’t be around to see his children grow up. Since dropping to 14st 13lbs and losing 12 inches from his waist, the 43-year-old has fallen back in love with musical theatre and regularly gets compared to the Torchwood star.

Martin says his weight problems began after an abusive childhood and he fluctuated in size throughout his teens, 20s and early 30s. However, it was after his triplets – Harvey, Maisie and Maxwell – were born in 2008 that he saw his weight increase dramatically: “They were born three months premature and suffered varying degrees of health problems. It was a very difficult time and I practically lived at the hospital, so my eating habits suffered badly.”

As time went on Martin’s weight impacted on his physical and emotional health. He says: “Because of all of my health issues I was a regular visitor to hospital, I was in a bad way and I started to genuinely worry that I was going to die. I was so ashamed of myself that I didn’t want to leave the house, and I had no energy to do anything so I’d just sit on the sofa and eat junk food every night. It was a vicious cycle.”

However, in January 2012 that all changed. He says: “I woke up one morning and something just clicked. I thought about the way the triplets had fought for their lives and I knew it was time for me to start fighting for me. I didn’t want to leave any of my children without a father. My GP had previously recommended Slimming World and a few friends had been members, so I decided to give it a try.”

Martin Woodsford
I truly believe that if I can do this, absolutely anyone can. 
Martin Woodsford

Martin, who also has a 16-year-old daughter Rosie, joined his local Slimming World group in Newport, before relocating to Barry. He says: “I was shy and embarrassed so I sat at the back and didn’t speak to anyone to start with. Within two weeks though it was completely different, I was up at the front and having fun with the rest of the group. It was a really easy transition to make because everyone made me so welcome and I soon realised that we were all in the same boat.”

He began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan, which Martin discovered was a world away from the restrictive diets and quick-fixes – including diet pills – he’d tried before. He swapped his junk food dinners for healthy home-cooked meals, including his favourite homemade Chicken tikka masala with boiled rice, and found he could still enjoy treats too. Martin says: “What I love about Food Optimising is that it’s not a diet, it’s completely sustainable and nothing is off limits. My partner and children all eat all the same meals when we’re together, and I still have a takeaway most weeks. I’m a chocoholic too and I can have a little bit of chocolate every day – what’s not to love?”

As well as changing his eating habits, Martin increased his fitness levels. Encouraged by his Slimming World Consultant Joanne Evans and the rest of the Barry group, he started by walking for around 15 minutes each day and slowly increased how much he was doing. He also joined a gym with his partner of two years Neil Hopkin-Thomas and even signed up to jazz and tap dance classes.


Since joining Slimming World Martin, who works with adults with learning difficulties and runs his own cake-making business Cake Sera Sera!, has lost 9st 2lbs dropping from 24st 1lb to 14st 13lbs. His health has improved dramatically – he no longer has any diabetes symptoms and doesn’t need medication for any of his previous complaints, he’s got a whole new wardrobe, and he’s had the confidence to take and pass his driving test.

He says: “I feel like a completely different person. I used to struggle to keep up with the children but now I’m the one tiring them out, and I’ve started performing again too. When I was bigger I used to always play the comedic roles and hide behind my jolly persona but inside I felt ashamed at how big I’d let myself become, now I’ve won a few leading man roles and I love being on the stage again. In fact, I’ve even been mistaken for John Barrowman a few times which is incredible because he’s one of my idols and I’ve love to meet and sing with him one day.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard I’d been named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek. While I’ve still got a little way to go – I’d like to lose another stone or so – it makes me realise how far I’ve come. I know I’ll never go back to the old Martin and I truly believe that if I can do this, absolutely anyone can.”


Name: Martin Woodsford
Age: 43
Height: 6’2”/1.88m
Starting weight: 24st 1lb/337lbs/153kg
Current weight: 14st 13lbs/209lbs/95kg
Weight loss: 9st 2lbs/128lbs/58kg
Starting waist measurement: 46in/117cm
Current waist measurement: 32-34in/81-86cm
Date joined Slimming World: January 16th 2012
Group: Martin attends the Barry Slimming World group run by Joanne Evans.


Breakfast: Few pieces of toast with butter and marmalade.
Mid-morning: Sandwich and chocolate
Lunch: Ready meal or chips, followed by sponge cake and custard
Mid-afternoon: Large bar of chocolate, crisps, sweets
Dinner: Takeaway or jarred chicken tikka masala, rice, naan bread
Evening: Biscuits, chocolate and crisps.


Breakfast: Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs
Mid-morning: Fresh fruit, mini KitKat
Lunch: Homemade crustless quiche with salad followed by a fat-free yogurt
Mid-afternoon: Fresh fruit, high-fibre cereal bar
Dinner: Roast dinner or homemade chicken tikka masala curry with boiled rice
Evening: Fresh fruit, fat-free yogurt, mini KitKat.

Notes to Editors

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 18,000 groups held weekly across the UK and Republic of Ireland via a network of 4,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques.

Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. Our phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. The principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by overweight people and a recognition that those who struggle with weight carry a double burden, the weight itself and a burden of guilt and shame about their weight. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating behaviour change in a warm and friendly group environment. Consultant training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.

For the Press Office please email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk