A RETIRED sportsman lost nine stone in three years while undergoing treatment for skin cancer.

Tony Godden, 71, from Ruthin, played football and cricket at a high-standard club level into his 30s, however it was not until his late 60s that he found the best diet to keep him in shape.

Mr Godden, director of Northop Golf Club, started his “lifestyle change” when he accompanied his daughter Kelly to Slimming World at the start of 2017, and he did not look back.

He began fasted exercise before 8am every morning followed by 10,000 steps per day.

Meanwhile he found the popular UK weight loss organisation’s diet plan, which promotes flexible healthy eating and cutting down on calorie-rich foods, to be “the most successful diet I have ever been on”.

“Having been an active sportsman all my life my weight always fluctuated between the football and cricket seasons but once I stopped doing these and only played golf my weight just seemed to pile on,” he said. “Travelling on business within the food industry didn’t help with business lunches, dinners and exhibitions.

“I have experienced a number of diets when playing football in the winter and cricket in the summer, but this doesn’t even feel like a diet because there aren’t any foods you can’t eat; you just don’t eat them all the time.”

Within four months he had lost three-and-a-half stone, but a skin cancer diagnosis in April set him back. He had three operations over the next eight months, during which he could not play golf, walk or ride the exercise bike in his home. However Mr Godden, who said he formed a “discipline mentality” while playing as an apprentice at Fulham Football Club, Maidstone United and as opening batsman for Gillingham Cricket Club, stuck to the diet and lost one-and-a-half stone while overcoming his cancer diagnosis.

“I think the diet helped with the recovery too,” he said. “Had I not lost the three stone before I the operation I really would have struggled. My weight fluctuated during the treatment and it limited my mobility but I stuck to the plan.

“I think that in sport and in life, if you are determined and set a goal, then you will get to that goal.”

The Slimming World diet plan recommends ‘free food’ that can be eaten at any time, including fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, eggs, fish and lean meat, a number of ‘measured healthy extras’ such as milk, cheese, bread and cereals, and a few ‘sins’ like chocolate and a glass of wine.

Mr Godden returned to exercise in January 2018 and lost another four stone by the end of 2020. He said his life has “changed dramatically”.

“It is a case of sticking to the plan, eating normal food and cooking properly,” he said. “Every now and then you can have a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine, so you don’t have to miss out on anything.

“I no longer have to shop around for large sized clothes as I can just ‘buy off the peg’. My breathing is a lot better and I feel a totally different person.”

He added that “being a part of a group” at Slimming World and “meeting people with similar problems” has “helped me immensely”. “I could not have done it without the support of my wife Eirwen and Kelly. I have still a couple of stone to lose but it is a lifestyle change and I will continue for the rest of my life.” said Mr Godden is “so inspirational”.

“Tony is the kind of person that will go away on a cruise holiday and come back having lost weight,” said Tracy Cawthray, Denbighshire area manager for Slimming World.

“He is very determined and just gets on with it.”We encourage members to exercise but Slimming World is all about the food you are eating, so it is suitable for people of any age and ability.

“Life can get in the way but it is always rewarding when people come back.

Slimming World classes take place in Denbigh on Monday and Thursday, Ruthin on Tuesday and Saturday, and St Asaph on Wednesday. For more contact Tracy Cawthrayon 07557948659.