Meet the ‘best slimming group’ in the UK – where members have lost the weight of a bus!

What are the ingredients for the very best slimming group in the UK? This group in Hedge End, near Southampton, may just have the answer after beating 18,000 other contenders to the national title of Slimming World’s Group of the Year.

The Hedge End group boasts:

  • Huge weight losses. The group have lost 1,729st in 2017 – the same weight as a single decker bus.
  • A buzzing atmosphere. More than 70 members of a variety of ages and backgrounds attend each session.
  • First week success. Research by Slimming World shows that a great first week weight loss is a strong indicator of future success and members of this group lose an average of 4lbs in their first week and nearly 2st in the first three months, setting themselves up for a successful journey.
  • Close friendships. Many members describe the group as being like one big family, creating a trusting atmosphere that is conducive to exceptional support.
  • Consultant Claire Henderson. She lost 3st herself at Slimming World, and has maintained her weight loss for 18 years.

The Hedge End Slimming World group in Hampshire has been named ‘Group of the Year 2017’ by national weight-loss organisation Slimming World.

The group is run by Claire Henderson, from West End, and beat off stiff competition from 18,000 other groups run by 4,800 other slimming Consultants across the UK and Ireland to win the national accolade.

Claire says: “I’m over the moon to win this award. I feel like I have the best job in the world running this fantastic group. I love seeing my Hedge End members change their lives and celebrate their achievements with each other. I love watching as their health and confidence blossom. Every member is made to feel 10ft tall by the time they walk out of the door thanks to the love, support and care they show one another in group. We really are one big family.”

Claire Henderson, Slimming World Consultant
I feel like I have the best job in the world running this fantastic group. I love seeing my Hedge End members change their lives and celebrate their achievements with each other. I love watching as their health and confidence blossom. We really are one big family.
Claire Henderson, Slimming World Consultant

Slimming World selected their winner based on the group’s quality in a number of key areas:

Weight loss successes

Members of the Hedge End group have lost 23,000lbs or 1729st – the weight of an average bus – since January 2017. Liz Arnold, who is 9st lighter after joining Claire’s group in 2015, says: “I joined Claire's group in August 2015 after shattering my ankle from fainting under my own weight. I hobbled into group on crutches and weighed in at 20st 10lbs. I’m now nearing my target weight and have felt supported the whole way through my journey. Claire and Slimming World have given me my life back." Liss Williams, the group’s Greatest Loser 2017 has lost more than 11st and agrees: “I love my group and I am there every Thursday without fail. It’s not diet, it’s a lifestyle and now a way of life!”

Buzzing and inclusive atmosphere

With an average of 70 members per session attending each of the nine sessions held across the week, the Hedge End group is well-known for its electric atmosphere and diverse membership. While the oldest member is 85, the youngest, 12, attends with her mum as part of Slimming World’s Family Affair scheme. The group is held inside the walls of the impressive Kings Community Church on Thursdays and St John’s Church Underhill Centre on Tuesdays.

Helen Morant, a member who has reached her target weight, says: “Claire’s groups are just inspirational. The number and variety of members there are means there is plenty of lively discussion and everyone can help each other. Whether you’ve been there for years or just have joined, you’re always learning something new from someone else whether that’s a new recipe, shopping tip or some words of wisdom”.

A warm welcome and success from the first week

New members at the Hedge End group lose an average of 4lbs in their first week and, over 13 weeks, they lose an average of 26lbs. Research* by Slimming World has shown that people who enjoy a big weight loss in their first week are more likely to go on to be successful because it increases their motivation and self-belief.

“I was extremely sceptical before I walked through the door”, says member Tracy Howe. “However, what did I have to lose? Only an hour or so then I didn't have to go back if it wasn't for me. My preconceptions couldn't have been more wrong. Claire and the other members of the group were so lovely and friendly, making me feel comfortable and welcome. I lost two and a half pounds in my first week and I’ve now lost 3st 7lbs to reach my target weight.”

Close friendships

Many of the members describe the group as ‘one big family’, including Mary Sheridan, who lost 5st and won the group’s Woman of the Year competition in 2014 and still attends for support each week. A number of members say they have met some of their best friends here and this level of trust and support is invaluable when facing challenges. As Teresa McNamara, from West End, explains: “Walking in to one of Claire's groups is like walking in to a room of friends. We’re not divided by age or gender but united in a common goal.”

A great Consultant, bringing everything together

Hedge End members have a fantastic team leader in Claire Henderson, who has been a Consultant in the area for 19 years. Like all Slimming World Consultants, Claire lost weight as a member herself – 3st in fact – and has been trained at the Slimming World Academy based in Derbyshire.

“Claire believes in every single member of our Slimming World family even when we have lost belief in ourselves,” continues member Teresa McNamara. Hedge End’s Woman of the Year Jacqui Hodgson agrees: “She is a genuinely caring, understanding and compassionate person and wants to make sure everyone who walks through the door achieves their goals. The support she gives to us all is outstandingly phenomenal and goes above and beyond. She laughs with us, cries with us and cheers with us. Her commitment to helping each and every one of us is amazing.”

To find out more or your nearest Slimming World group visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk.

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