LOSING weight helped to save the life of a man who had a heart rate of just 25 beats per minute, according to cardiologists.

Neil Roberts, from Braintree, was rushed to a cardiothoracic unit with heart problems, but after having a pacemaker fitted and dropping more than 4st in weight he is now back to full fitness.

The 65-year-old admits he used to think weight loss clubs were “for women”, but says his scepticism has vanished after he was crowned man of the year by his slimming group for shifting so many pounds.

Following his health scare he decided to try and thin down once and for all after seeing photographs from a wedding he was a guest at in New York.

Neil said: “Deep down I’d been unhappy with my weight for some time but it took me some time to face up to it.

“And then when I did admit to myself that I wanted to lose weight I still didn’t want to ask for help.

“I’ve realised now though that far from being weak, asking for help takes strength of character and getting support to make changes has given me a sense of confidence that is benefitting every aspect of my life.

“It was nerve-wracking walking through those doors for the first time but everyone was so supportive and I attended with my wife, Joyce.”

Carley Day, who runs the Braintree Town Hall Slimming World Neil attends, said: “He has done brilliantly and we’re all amazed by his transformation.

“He’s a real inspiration to the group.

“We know that many men assume slimming clubs won’t be right for them, but Neil shows that once they come through the doors they do so well.”