A very personal cause

Slimmers (left to right) Claire Priseman, Sarah Corcoran, Heather Corcoran, Rebecca Mitchell, Peter Sawyer, Kate Najem, Sarah Clatworthy, Jackie Ball and Angela Barnes. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (131522-2)
Slimmers (left to right) Claire Priseman, Sarah Corcoran, Heather Corcoran, Rebecca Mitchell, Peter Sawyer, Kate Najem, Sarah Clatworthy, Jackie Ball and Angela Barnes. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131522-2)

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As a youngster, Sarah Clatworthy never minded being known as ‘Tim’s little sister’.

Her brother was a big character, but Sarah was content to sometimes live in his shadow.

After their father died of prostate cancer when she was just 14, Tim looked out for his little sister, giving her pocket money and taking her on holidays to Wales.

So to lose him to the same disease more than 30 years later was a particularly cruel blow.

Tim Rose, a teacher and father-of-three, died of prostate cancer at the age of 55 after his diagnosis came too late for doctors to save him.

‘We were very close so it was really hard,’ says Sarah. ‘We even looked quite alike so when we were younger I used to be ‘‘Tim’s little sister’’, or sometimes even ‘‘Tim’s little brother’’! But I really didn’t mind.

‘He was so ‘larger than life’, a real extrovert. I bet they miss him at school, singing in the corridors.’

That’s why Drayton mum Sarah was happy to help charity Cancer Research UK.

As a member of the Slimming World group at Lyndhurst Junior School in North End, she was asked to take part in the Big Clothes Throw.

The organisation encouraged Slimming World members across the country to donate the clothes they’d slimmed out of and raise money for the charity.

Groups across Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, Havant and the surrounding areas contributed to the nationwide fundraising drive, which has clocked up more than £300,000.

At Sarah’s North End club, they collected nine huge bags of clothes.

Consultant Kate Najem says: ‘It was such an inspiration for us. Bringing in the clothes that no longer fitted showed how well everyone had done. It was a real achievement and confidence boost.

‘And at the same time we were able to help a really important charity. Cancer is something that touches everyone in some way, so most people have a personal reason to help.’

For Sarah the drive to support an important research charity was significant as both her dad Henry and brother might have been helped with an earlier diagnosis.

Tim went to the doctor with a back ache and by that time the cancer had spread.

‘That’s why we need to do so much more for it. It can be so treatable and maybe with an earlier diagnosis, things might have been different,’ says Sarah, adding: ‘I think what these charities are doing are amazing and they deserve as much support as we can give them.’

She says losing her dad at 14 was so tough that she found it hard to remember the good times they had shared.

‘It always came back to that, particularly hard was when he came 
home from hospital and we knew he was going to die but couldn’t do anything.’

When she lost her brother, Sarah had already started going to Slimming World and although times were really tough, she says it actually helped. ‘It sounds strange but it actually gave me something else to focus on and think about for a while’

As much about healthy eating as slimming, it encourages members to adopt a different lifestyle.

And as she talks about memories of Tim, Sarah is clearly proud that the achievements of Slimming World members are going some way to helping people in the future.

CLAIRE PRISEMAN

As well as contributing to an important cause, the Clothes Throw marked a great achievement for many Slimming World members.

And it increased the camaraderie among slimmers, all with their own special reasons for wanting to lose weight.

Claire Priseman donated two bags of clothes after losing three stone and five pounds since January.

She was delighted as it means she now has the energy and confidence to go swimming regularly with her 10-year-old son Harry.

‘He loves the water and so do I but we didn’t go together as much as I would have liked.

‘I’ve got far more energy now and although I still feel a bit self-conscious in a swimming costume, we go on trips to the Mountbatten Centre and Romsey Rapids. It’s lovely to be doing something together and having that quality time.’

Harry is also thrilled that Claire, 45, goes on the trampoline with him.

The Cosham mum used to be very sporty, doing gymnastics and synchronised swimming when she was younger.

But after an injury she gained weight that proved hard to shift.

The Clothes Throw marked a turning point and also allowed her to do something in support of her aunt Jean, who has been treated for breast cancer.

‘She’s been really brave, she’s always saying ‘‘I’m fine’’ and getting on with things. It’s inspiring and makes you want to make the most of your own life.’

BECKY MITCHELL

Becky Mitchell has a vital reason for losing weight, so marking her achievement with the Clothes Throw has been particularly important.

As a teenager Becky was diagnosed with polycistic ovaries, which can cause fertility problems, and she says her weight is making things more difficult.

The 33-year-old Portsmouth teacher, who is married to Thomas, says: ‘I was a thin child but this can cause weight gain, it’s like a vicious circle really.’

She has been told that even to be considered for fertility treatment, she must reduce her BMI.

‘I’m 33 now and our friends are settling down. It’s a lot of pressure and I think that makes it harder,’ admits Becky.

But she has lost just under two stone and was thrilled to be able to offer some now baggy tops for the Clothes Throw.

Becky has a special reason to support the fundraising drive as her mum Christine was diagnosed with bowel cancer six years ago.

She is doing okay but Becky says it was a hard fight and affected her mum in many ways.

‘She’s always been a very strong person and it took its toll. She’s a lot quieter than she was before.’

But she’s grateful to still have Christine around and loves the idea of the Clothes Throw.

‘I thought it was a brilliant idea. I already give money to Breast Cancer Care, but it’s always great to be doing more.’