A Buckden mum who lost seven stone and spent Christmas in Antarctica is dancing for joy after being crowned Woman of the Year by her slimming group.

Hilary Blagborough,before her weight loss, playing music for the Morris dancing groupHilary Blagborough,before her weight loss, playing music for the Morris dancing group

Hilary Blagbrough, 58, who works for the British Antarctic Survey, joined the Buckden Slimming World group in November 2017.

At her first weigh-in she tipped the scales at 18 stone 13.5lbs and set herself a target of 16 stone by June of this year. Hilary knew she needed to lose some weight as she had been offered the opportunity to go on a research cruise in Antarctica and would have to meet the weight restriction in order to pass her medical.

"I had always left it to the last minute to lose weight, but this time, with my elder daughter already losing lots of weight at Slimming World, I decided to take the plunge," said Hilary.

"[The Buckden group] met on a Thursday night which I knew would be difficult since I belong to a Morris dance side that meets on Thursdays, but I wanted to lose the weight. I set an interim target of 16 stone by June. June is when the medical happens and I knew that being 16 stone would be just light enough to get me through."

Hilary Blagborough was crowned Woman of the Year following her weight loss.Hilary Blagborough was crowned Woman of the Year following her weight loss.

Hilary reached the 16-stone target in February last year and was then told the research cruise was cancelled, but was offered the chance to go to a station in the Antartic Peninsula, as relief manager of the science laboratories for six weeks.

Hilary said: "When the time came for the medical, I was at 13st 11lb and the look of shock on the doctor's face was wonderful. Whilst this meant I was going to spend Christmas away from my family, they were all really supportive."

Hilary admits that having her first child was the trigger for her weight gain and she has struggled over the years.

"In 1978, when I was newly married, I joined a local Morris dance side as a dancer. I loved folk dancing and took every opportunity to take part. After becoming pregnant with my first child, I became a musician for the side and, as the weight piled on over the years, I stopped dancing. I was too large to get into the kit and looked really silly in breeches. On the night I received my 'seven stone' award, I joined in the dancing once again. Not breathless at all, I was pleased to find that I still remembered most of the moves. I'm looking forward to dancing more in the future."

Hilary also discovered the weight loss was hugely beneficial to her health.

"Over the years, I had developed high blood pressure which was controlled with medication but after five months of following the Slimming World 'extra easy' plan, my weight was down to 15 stones 2lb and I was taken off the medication," she explained.

"I used to get breathless going upstairs but that's a thing of the past and on top of all that, back and ankle injuries that have always been a pain have cleared up completely. I feel so much healthier as well."

She continued: "I love the amount of food that I can have with Slimming World and I'm never hungry. I love going to group and hearing all the stories and tips from other members. We are all supportive of each other and our leader, Helen, is fantastic. She is so understanding when people have a bad time and comes up with plans to encourage and support even the most despondent members."

INFO: The Buckden Slimming World group runs on Thursdays at 5.30pm or 7.30pm at Buckden Primary School, School Lane. Contact Helen Johns on: 07720 773782.