Oliver Croft, 29, from Huntingdon, and Chris Hearth, 33, from Longstanton, were two of just 38 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming Worlds Man of the Year 2017 competition after losing an impressive 15st 6.5lbs between them.It was at the semi-final event that the pair were congratulated by the former Chelsea, Manchester City and England defender, Wayne Bridge. Oliver, who shed almost 10st to drop from 23st 1lb to 13st 7.5lbs believes it can be hard for men to admit that they need help to lose weight, and that it is especially difficult for them to walk through the doors of a slimming club for the first time. He said: It took quite a lot for me to admit that I had a weight problem to begin with, so actually deciding to do something about it and join my local Slimming World group was another big step. Thankfully I came to the conclusion that my health and happiness was the most important thing and plucked up the courage to go along that first time. My only regret now is that I didnt join Slimming World sooner. Chris, who slimmed from 18st 6lbs to 12st 7lbs at the Sawtry Slimming World group, added: I was a bit concerned Id have to survive on a bit of salad. I couldnt have been more wrong though, I eat just as much as before now, if not more. The beauty of Slimming World is that I can fill up on all of my favourite foods and lose weight without ever having to go hungry. Steak and chips, cooked breakfasts and curries are all still on the menu, Ive just had to make some simple swaps like ditching the olive oil or butter in favour of low-calorie cooking spray and trimming the fat off of meat. Though the pair did not win the overall competition, they were delighted to be in the running by making it to the semi-finals, held last month. Oliver added: I was a bit hesitant to tell people I was going to a slimming group at first, but once they noticed I was losing weight, the results spoke for themselves and everyone around me was incredibly supportive. I have no problem singing Slimming Worlds praises now.