MUM and slimming club leader Claire Hannaford is preparing to run in the London Marathon, just a few years after shedding six-and-a-half stone in weight.

Claire, 47, who runs four Slimming World clubs in Dawlish and the surrounding area, will be running the April marathon raising money for Cancer Research UK.

She will be one of a team of 16 Slimming World entrants taking part in the 26 mile event.

It was early in 2019 Claire decided she had to lose weight after a family holiday.

She joined the club and started the Couch to 5k training programme.

Claire, who is mum to five children, explained: ‘When I started the Couch to 5k never did I imagine I’d be running the London Marathon.

‘I was always a big girl but it was a holiday when I put on seven pounds in a week that I told myself I had to do something about it. When I first joined the club, I wondered how long I would last but I was able to make a whole lifestyle change.’

Claire, who also works at Annies tea rooms in Dawlish, was inspired along the way by friend Karen Jones from Newton Abbot who joined her running.

The well-known Couch to 5K programme, Claire explained, begins slowly with walking for one minute then running for one minute.

She said: ‘The app is brilliant, it tells you what to do, anyone who can walk can do this.

‘Consistency is key though, you have to go out and do it.

‘When I started I ran as slow as I could.

‘But you build it up gradually.’

She will be running her first half marathon with husband Neil and three weeks later, tackling the London Marathon distance. She has also managed to run from Dawlish to Exeter, an achievement she never thought possible.

She is following the London Marathon training programme and doing three runs a week.

Children Holly, 27, Harry, 25, Harvey, 23, Bailey 20 and 16-year-old Ellie are supporting her.

She said: ‘When I first went on a bike ride with them, I became emotional because I’d never ridden a bike with my children. They have always been so supportive of my weight loss journey and are so proud of me.’

Anyone who wants to sponsor Claire can do so by going to her Just Giving page under Claire Hannaford.