When Philip Way decided to lose weight, little did he realise the amazing impact it would have on his life.
Weighing in a 30 stone, 54-year-old Philip shed an incredible 15 stones - half his original body weight.
In 2008 his health declined to the point where it became impossible for him to continue working.
Philip, from Lowton, said: “I had diabetes, sleep apnoea, back and joint pain and asthma. All of these conditions related to my weight and this is when I realised that I needed to seek help.”
One day Philip spotted a flyer advertising a new surgery at Leigh Sports Village.
Philip said: “It was like a sign so I decided to give them a call. They invited me to see them straight away for a health check and we discussed my weight issues. My GP made an immediate referral to a new service which was starting up at the Leigh Health Centre called The Lose Weight Feel Great Specialist Weight Management Service (SWMS).”
Philip’s health was at an all-time low at this point: “My mobility had become so bad that I wasn’t able to walk without the aid of crutches, I had to use a mobility scooter to help me get around and even had a wheelchair.
“My sleep apnoea had become so bad that the only sleep I got was sitting upright in a chair and nodding off for a few minutes at a time.”
During this period he was pretty much housebound but knew he had to change the way he was living his life, he said: “I started to look around or some volunteering options that I could engage with given my limited mobility, I came across an opportunity with the Youth Offending Team at Wigan Council, this is when my life started to change for the better.
“I trained as a panel member and really enjoyed it, I got on well with the young people and unbeknown to be at the time I was making a positive impression with the staff. I was given access to all kinds of training such as Safeguarding and Domestic Abuse, all of which I really enjoyed taking part in.”
The more Philip’s confidence continued to grow the more focused he was on losing the weight which had hindered him for so long.
Philip explains: “At SWMS they were able to advise me on a range of things including dietetics, physio, understanding the psychcology of weight and of course exercise. During this time I was able to maintain my weight but was struggling to actually lose any of it, at this point I tipped the scales at 30st, this was when I started to look at bariatric surgery as an option.
Philip engaged with the Lose Weight Feel Great Specialist Weight Management Service for 24 months. During this time he made a number of dietary and lifestyle changes, to help stabilise his weight, he also attended a bariatric education session to help him way up the pros and cons, and was eventually put forward for surgery.
Philip said: “Although the service is delivered by the NHS I was unaware at the time that it was funded by public health Wigan. After the surgery my health improved markedly, it was amazing how quickly my body started to repair itself.”
At this point Philip felt he was ready to commit to more volunteering with Wigan Council. He said: “In just over a year I was able to extend my volunteering commitments to a more physical role and started to accompany young people on Reparation Projects across the borough as well as working at True Colours supporting adults with autism.
“With my new found health and experience I took the decision to apply for a role as a Reparations Worker, I was successful and started full time work with the Targeted Services Team.
Volunteering and taking part in the weight management scheme gave Philip a new lease of life.
Philip said: “My medical commitments dropped to almost zero, I was no longer taking any kind of medication and I was able to stop all of the state benefits I was on.
“In my mind Wigan Council had invested a lot of money in me and it’s only right that I repay that investment by being a committed Wigan employee.”
For more details on volunteering and the SWMS service please visit www.wigan.gov.uk