Didn’t they do just swell!

THEY all emerged better people – and having formed lasting friendships.

That is the feeling amongst our finalists in the Hartlepool Mail-backed Weigh Forward competition – who lost a whopping 15st 11lbs between them!

Weigh Forward contestants pictured with Steven Smith (back row second from the right).

Weigh Forward contestants pictured with Steven Smith (back row second from the right).

As reported in yesterday’s Mail, Philip Bentham, 33, was revealed as the winner of the life-changing contest, after shedding an impressive three stone, from 16st 8lb to 13st 8lb.

Today we congratulate Philip and the rest of the participants, who each have had their own victories in the competition, held in conjunction with Tavistock Leisure and personal trainer Steven Smith, having given their all for the weight loss and fitness challenge over the past 10 weeks.

Dad-of-two Philip, who lives on a farm near Summerhill Country Park with his partner Marc Bentham and children Keaton, 11, and four-year-old JJ, won a hotel stay and two months of one-to-one training with Steven.

Steven, who was supported in running the sessions by fiancée Amanda Hockborn, mum Dawn Smith and cousin Edika Ward, said: “A few people dropped out, but others came to every session and there were some star pupils who stood out for me.

“Some have booked in for more boot camp sessions.

“My hat goes off to them, they have made me really proud.

“This is just the start of something new for them, hopefully they will continue with a good balance of personal training and diet and still change their lives.”

Talkative mum-of-three and carer Gemma Horsley, 30, from the Dyke House area, who was runner-up, slimming from 13st to 11st 4lb, a 1st 10lbs loss, was unusually stuck for words when she went up to the stage during the awards ceremony at The Best Western Grand Hotel on Saturday.

She won a month’s worth of personal training.

There was just a pound between Gemma and third place which went to Tesco check-out worker Jean Leonard, 59, who went from 14st 1lb to 12st 6lb, losing 1st 9lbs.

After all the participants’ final weights were revealed and certificates awarded, Steven was invited on to the stage by the close-knit group, who presented him with a punch bag set, money and his own certificate.

Anyone interested in getting fit can contact Steven on 07861 520717.