Inspirational Burnley slimmer Ethel overcomes cancer and grief to finally achieve her goal weight
She mistakenly believed that people would judge her, or worse still, laugh.
"But as soon as I got through the doors everyone was friendly and supportive, " said Ethel.
And while she was determined to succeed to shed extra pounds and live a healthier lifestyle, Ethel still has obstacles to overcome, but that is something she has become used to.
Ethel, who lives in Burnley, struggled with her weight after the sudden death of her mum from bowel cancer in 1993.
The trauma led to an unhealthy relationship with the wrong kinds of foods and by 2012 she was tipping the scales at fifteen-and-a-half-stone.
But now, six years later she is four stone lighter and, at age of 55, confesses she feels like a "new and much younger woman" after joining Slimming World.
Ethel admits that before finding Slimming World she had tried every fad diet going and in 2012 managed to lose two stone before renewing her wedding vows on a Caribbean cruise.
And while her husband Tony told her she looked beautiful when Ethel saw the photos she felt "huge and humiliated."
And as soon as she got home Ethel returned to her old unhealthy eating habits.
She said: "I got out of breath quickly, and all my joints hurt when I tried any exercise, leaving me saying 'this exercise business isn’t for me!'
"This was the spur I needed to do something about my weight and health."
Bu before she could do anything about it Ethel was diagnosed with cancer and faced a year of chemotherapy and a further 18 months of recuperation before she could finally join Slimming World in 2017.
Ethel said: "After being weighed for the first time in four years and realising that even after cancer I was 14 stone 10 pounds, class leader Caroline Griffiths explained how I could choose my own goal weight and how, from now on, I could take control of my relationship with food."
The goal weight Ethel aspired to was 11 stone seven pounds and although she hadn't been that weight for 20 years everything seemed great in the first week after she lost half a stone!
But Ethel was to suffer a second setback when she fell and shattered her ankle, leaving her in plaster and wheelchair bound for three months.
But Ethel was determined that this time things would be different and she would not be beaten.
She said: "With the help of my husband and friends, I kept attending group, determined that this time I
wouldn’t be beaten.
"Everyone at group was so supportive and IMAGE therapy allowed me to explore my feelings towards food, and the things I could do to gain control.
"I soon realised that I could fill up on healthy Free Foods and need never be hungry. I could even have my favourite spaghetti bolognaise and sausage egg and chips as well as a glass of wine, and what’s more, I continued to lose weight.
"I never felt I was missing out on anything. It was amazing that I could lose weight whilst I was so immobile.
"Losing weight really changed my life. By the time I could walk again I was two stone lighter and the new me found that exercise was possible, even enjoyable, so my consultant encouraged me to begin working towards my
Body Magic awards."
Eveything in life has become easier for Ethel and she admits she now enjoys swimming and walking her three dogs. A horse owner for years, Ethel discovered she could now mount unaided and mucking out didn't leave her "a wreck."
"I’m happier, fitter and have been at my target weight for seven months, what’s more, I can now get
into my original wedding dress from 1987," said Ethel.
Ethel was so inspired to share her story with others she has now launched her own Slimming World group which meets every Thursday at Rosehill Baptist Church in Burnley at 7-30pm. Anyone who would like more information is asked to contact 07786 360724.