A s a mum of three children, Emma Hine likes to make sure they have lots of fun together.
Like any other family, they enjoy holidays and trips to amusement parks.
But it was an outing to Thorpe Park that was to change Emma’s life. When the overweight single mum tried to get on the Nemesis ride with the children, what happened next was no laughing matter.
The 38-year-old cringed as she realised the safety barrier on the ride would not go down properly because she was too fat.
But her embarrassment turned to horror when the attendant at Thorpe Park ordered her, in front of hundreds of people queuing for the ride, to get off as she was just too big.
Watched by her horrified children, Emma, from West Leigh, hauled her 5ft 3in, 17st, frame off the ride and burned with humiliation on that June day last year.
The mum-of-three says: ‘As I walked off, people actually pointed at me and laughed.
‘I turned back to look at the children and they were embarrassed for themselves, but also embarrassed for me.
‘It was heartbreaking to see their faces. I was absolutely mortified.
‘It was then I decided to do something about my weight. It was out of control.’
Emma’s 14-year-old son Lewis will be familiar to readers of The News.
The teenager has severe uncontrollable epilepsy, brain tumours and hydrocephalis – water on the brain.
He has severe fits throughout the day which can leave him temporarily paralysed.
He is constantly in and out of Southampton General and Great Ormond Street hospitals.
Sadly, his condition is getting worse.
Emma says: ‘I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism when I was 30 and I put on a bit of weight.
‘I managed to lose four stone, but when Lewis became very poorly I just ballooned because he was in hospital so often.
‘I was existing on sausage rolls, microwave meals, tea and toast.
‘It’s very difficult to eat healthily in a hospital if you’re not a patient.
‘You just grab whatever you can.’
But Emma’s weight loss since that awful day on the Nemesis ride has been staggering.
She is now a petite size 10 and weighs 9st 13lbs – achieved through exercise and healthy eating.
And on Saturday you can watch her compete in one of the world’s toughest assault courses in Ninja Warrior on ITV (pictured right).
Needing something to aim for, Emma and her brother Richard signed up for the Tough Mudder obstacle challenge.
Once she aced that she needed an even bigger challenge.
‘We absolutely smashed Tough Mudder’, she says with a smile.
‘So when I saw the advert for Ninja Warrior, I thought “I’m going for it”.
‘Five thousand people applied and only 250 of us were picked.
‘It was unbelievably tough but I knew it would be.
‘You are not allowed to try it before you film your piece. You simply have to go for it – and I did!
‘The children were in the audience and ITV really made a fuss of them.
‘They felt like mini celebrities. It was a fantastic experience.’
Emma is under strict orders not to reveal how she did in the show.
But, tellingly, she explains how another contestant had spent five years in Japan training for his turn – and failed to complete it.
Only a handful of people across the world have completed the course.
It includes obstacles such as the The Warped Wall, Double Salmon Ladder, Balance Tank and Circle Slider and ends with a rope climb the height of a double-decker bus.
It was something Emma could not have dreamed of doing even a year ago.
She says: ‘Exercise has changed my life. I’m so strong now, I can climb monkey bars and run and run.
‘I train at 24/7 Gym six days a week and they have really taken me under their wing.
‘I run 5km every day and even the children come with me.
‘Lewis always has a hospital bag on standby because we go in so often.
‘It has toothbrushes and toiletries and now a pair of trainers so I can go running in the hospital grounds.’
She adds: ‘Because our lives are so stressful I get very little sleep,
‘But since I started doing exercise I feel so well.
‘Before, I suffered from headaches because of high blood pressure,
‘I was constantly out of breath and I had tummy aches.
‘Now I feel alive and full of energy all the time.’
Children Lewis, Chloe, 15, and Jessica, 12, are rightly proud of their mum.
Lewis says: ‘What happened in Thorpe Park was really bad.
‘My mum was really embarrassed. But she looks really good now and I’m proud of her.
‘When I look at her I’m in shock at how much weight she has lost.’
Emma, a single mum, says she was determined to lose the weight for her children.
She said: ‘Everything I have done in life is for my children.
‘Lewis is my little superhero. He goes through so much and is always brave and strong.
‘Chloe was bullied and set up her own charity, Beat the Bullies, to help other children.
‘My children are a total inspiration to me.’
Ninja Warrior UK
Ninja Warrior UK began last Saturday night on ITV. The format comes from the Japanese programme Sasuke which first aired in 1997.
People take it extremely seriously in Japan, where they quit their jobs and spend years training to attack the obstacle course – said to be the hardest in the world. Only a handful of people have ever completed it.
Ninja Warrior is already a smash hit in the USA, Sweden and Malaysia. In the UK it is hosted by Ben Shephard, Rochelle Humes and Chris Kamara.
It is billed as the ultimate test of strength, speed and courage.
Contestants are pushed to their limits as they compete to complete TV’s toughest challenge.
They come from all walks of life and range from those who can beat the course to those who spectacularly fail, crashing out into the water below.
A total of 250 competitors will try to reach a tower called Mount Midoriyama and be crowned the first Ninja Warrior UK.
You can see Ninja Warrior on ITV every Saturday at 5pm.