NEARLY missing out on a dream flight in a Spitfire nine years ago was the first wake-up call for Kevin Auton.

It was time to lose some weight – and time to help others as well.

And after years of attempting diets and going to the gym, Mr Auton has developed a gadget to help him, his family, and others lose weight.

The 49-year-old has developed the Buddy step counter which measures daily activity, can hold information about weight, and acts as a food diary to count calories. In the last year Mr Auton, of Elizabeth Drive, Hartford, said he had lost 17kg (more than two-and-a-half stones) using his device.

Now he is looking for 25 volunteers, aged between 14 and 25, to take part in Activ8rlives.com pilot. The scheme will challenge a group of people to walk around the world ... without leaving this country.

Participants will carry on their lives as normal while wearing Mr Auton’s device. The data are then uploaded to their computers, the group’s activity is added up and they will see how far they’ve travelled on Google Maps.

The 25 volunteers will have to be active enough to get through Europe, Iran, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia into Singapore, and across Australia and the pacific to the USA and through Canada and back to the UK.

The group won’t be as speedy as Phileas Fogg, according to Mr Auton, as it will take about a year to finish.

“We’ve all tried doing diets and going to the gym but nothing really worked,” he said. “I suffered from obesity and I had a number of wake up calls – when I almost couldn’t fit into a Spitfire for my 40th birthday and the I started to be concerned about my daughter.

“I came up with the Buddy as we found that getting together and losing weight was so much easier than on our own, and you help each other out and encourage each other.

“It doesn’t matter if you walk for 10 minutes, and others are much more active, participants will hopefully go out of their way to do more walking or exercise to play a larger part in the scheme.”

Living Sport is funding the project through Sport England’s Sportivate scheme, so the £45.95 gadget is now available for £4.95 for the pilot group.

The group will start the ‘trip’ later on this week. Track their progress at wwwactiv8rlives.com

INFORMATION: To take part call 01480 352821 or e-mail walkaroundtheworld@activ8rlives.com