THEY were once three of Britain’s biggest people – with one spending eight years in bed due to their colossal size.
But Andrew Hill, Claire Clucas and Emily Ingold were given the chance to transform their lives thanks to the help of Channel 4 documentary, Shut-Ins: Britain’s Fattest People.
All three received specialist counselling and weight loss surgery after turning to the show two years ago in a desperate bid to shed the pounds – and have since lost more than 40st combined.
And the cameras return for a one-off special, airing tonight, charting their incredible weight loss journeys.
Here, we speak to them about their amazing transformations…
‘When I’m hungry it’s a bloodbath’
ANDREW HILL, 51, struggled to walk from one end of his Cotswolds home to the other two years ago after his weight shot up to 37st. With a BMI of more than 68, he was classed as super, super morbidly obese.
But since having bariatric surgery through the show in 2018 he has lost a whopping 22st and now weighs around 14st.
Andrew says: “I’ve lost almost two thirds of myself.
“I have walked past my reflection and thought, ‘Who is that? Oh it’s me!’
“There was a point in my life where I was just waiting to die. But now I feel as if there is a future. Psychologically I literally feel like a different person.”
His weaknesses were bread and takeaways, regularly eating 6,000 calories a day – which is more than double the recommended daily amount for a man.
Discussing his love of food when filmed in 2018 for the show, Andrew said: “I tend not to eat until I’m hungry and then it’s a bloodbath. I just go hell for leather. I just keep scoffing the entire lot.
He added: “If someone said to me, ‘Why don’t you eat less?’ I’d say to them, ‘If you find out how to eat less, show me.’”
At his heaviest, Andrew rarely left the house because he was crippled with anxiety, saying his “self worth was non-existent”.
He also suffered from a range of obesity-related health problems, including an underlying heart problem, sleep apnea and the painful bacterial skin infection cellulitis, which if left untreated could lead to septicaemia and kill him.
It was left to wife Sharon to do all the household chores and cooking, putting a strain on their marriage.
Sharon herself previously struggled with her weight and appeared on the first series of the show in 2014. At more than 48st, she was the UK’s fattest woman.
But she slimmed down to 30st after undergoing bariatric surgery funded by production.
Andrew says: “I gradually over the years put more and more pressure on Sharon to do things I feel I should have been doing myself.
“Looking back I can see how bad I was, how much of my life I wasn’t living.”
Andrew sought help through the show and surgeon Professor David Kerrigan recommended a new and experimental surgery, which involved removing three-quarters of his stomach.
In the first month alone, he lost 3st but he was still fearful of going outside. With the help of therapy sessions, he was able to overcome it – and even joined his local gym.
Andrew, who has to stick to a high protein diet for life, is no longer afraid of the outside world and has a job as a Highway Maintenance worker checking roads for damage.
He says: “I’m immeasurably more happy than I was before. Eighteen Months ago I wouldn’t have fitted in the van, it was that serious.”
For Sharon though, his dramatic weight loss is somewhat of a double edged sword.
She admits: “I’m honestly jealous because he has found it really easy and he’s lost weight really quickly.
“I do worry though that he’s ashamed of me. He looks normal. Most people wouldn’t look at him now and think twice. He’s just a face in the crowd if that makes sense”
But it has helped to transform their marriage, with them spending more time together and the couple even going on a dream holiday to America.
Andrew says: “There’s a huge improvement in our relationship.”
He added: “I now have a future to live for. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.”
‘I was bed-bound for eight years’
Mum-of-three CLAIRE CLUCAS, 51, from Southampton, was left bed-bound for eight years after her weight soared to 46st and required round-the-clock care from her youngest daughter Jasmine, 22.
Claire says: “It was heartbreaking not being able to go out or even leave my bed.
“I couldn’t do normal things. Jasmine had to do everything for me.
“I felt so ashamed. I couldn’t get into clothes. I had to wear a large hospital gown.”
The self-confessed “carb fiend” says she has always been on the bigger side but started piling on the pounds after having children and the breakdown of her marriage in 1996.
Her weight left her unable to leave her bed for eight years.
She says: “I turned to food as a crutch but I didn’t even realise what I was doing.
“Now I know that a lot of it is psychological.”
Claire would often skip breakfast before having four ham sandwiches on white bread for lunch and two packs of crisps.
For dinner, she would have three burgers with chips and beans before ordering sweet and sour pork with fried rice, ribs and pineapple fritters from her local Chinese takeaway – washed down with two litres of Dr Pepper.
And in 2011, Claire nearly died after developing the flesh-eating bug Necrotising fasciitis, often linked to people who are obese, leaving her confined to her bed.
Doctors also discovered she had type 2 diabetes and she needed daily injections to try to keep it under control.
Claire, who had to give up job as a youth leader due to her poor health, says: “I was trying to get weight loss surgery but I got refused by the NHS.
“It felt like I was just being left there.”
However, she did manage to slim down to 31st before having a gastric sleeve through the show in 2018.
Claire’s bariatric surgeon Nick Carter described her as a “ticking time bomb” and without surgery she would inevitably die young.
The operation reduced her stomach to a quarter of its size. Claire was devastated to be told that during surgery he discovered her excess weight was hiding a cancerous tumour in her uterus.
The 2st tumour was later removed and Claire also had to have a hysterectomy.
Then, last September, she had further surgery, the Omega Loop – known as the mini gastric bypass.
Now a size 24, Claire, who last summer was told she is now cancer free, has since lost more than 10st – and can finally go outside.
She says: “It’s completely amazing what has happened.
“I have gone from having no hope at all because I didn’t think I would ever get out of that bed to being able to go shopping, cook dinner and look after my grandchildren – all the little things that other people take for granted.
She has been left with mobility issues due to the flesh-eating bug and still needs a wheelchair for longer distances but is able to live more independently, which has helped transform her relationship with Jasmine.
Claire – also mum to Tracey, 30, and Ben, 23 – says: “She says: “It was soul destroying for me but her as well. You don’t want your daughter to be looking after you and she did move out for a bit.
“It has taken a lot of weight off her shoulders.”
Claire was even able to take grandsons Teddy, seven, and three-year-old Eric on holiday for the first time last year with a friend to give Tracey a break.
She says: “It’s amazing being able to spend quality time with them and care for them – instead of my family having to care for me.”
‘I was eating 15,000 calories a day’
Teaching assistant EMILY INGOLD, 26, lives in Kettering, Northants, with her sons, Reilly, six, and four-year-old Harry.
She would regularly eat around 15,000 calories a day through binge eating on fast food, like McDonald’s.
Emily says: “After the school run, I would go to the Drive Thru and have a double sausage and egg McMuffin, two breakfast wraps, six hash browns and a chocolate milkshake.”
She would easily eat a 12-multipack of crisps a day, as well as a whole cheesecake, followed by a Chinese takeaway for dinner.
Emily says: “I’d order chips, chow mein, curry sauce, salt and chilli chicken and ribs – just for me.”
Her issues with food started from an early age and she would often steal food from around the house.
Emily says: “ I would always eat by myself, never in front of anyone else. I’d wait until the boys were at school or in bed because I didn’t want them to see and copy me.
“When I was eating, I was happy but when I stopped, I knew it wasn’t good and it was essentially killing me.”
Emily’s weight shot up to more than 26st and she struggled to squeeze into size 32 clothes.
She says: “The only time I would ever leave the house was to take the boys to school. I ordered shopping online so I didn’t have to go out.
“On the rare occasions I took them to the park, I’d have to sit down on the bench. Reilly would ask me to push him on the swing but I couldn’t because I was in constant pain with my back due to my weight.
“I felt like a failed mum not being able to play with them. It was heartbreaking for me – and for them.”
Emily tried to lose weight herself and dropped a stone before putting it back on again.
She says: “I went to see my GP for help but they brushed me off. People would tell me to eat less and exercise more but when you’re in that frame of mind it’s not easy to do that.
“The only way I felt better was if I ate and that was my coping mechanism, even though I knew it was hurting me.”
As a last resort, she contacted the show in a bid to slim down. It led to her being diagnosed with a food addiction.
Emily says: “I actually felt relieved when I was told, as daft as it sounds. Finally a medical professional understood and maybe I could get help.”
And she realised just how urgently she needed to take action when bariatric surgeon, Sherif Awad, told her she was super, super morbidly obese and her weight was putting her life in danger.
Emily, who is separated from her sons’ dad, recalls: “It killed me in that moment. I just cried.
“It was a terrifying thought, not being able to see my boys grow up. They shouldn’t have to see me go so young.”
But since undergoing a gastric sleeve through the programme in 2018, Emily has lost 10st and now weighs 16st 9lb.
She says: “There’s such a massive difference, I don’t recognise myself.
“My life has changed completely. Everything is so much better.
“I walk the boys to school everyday and take them to the park. When we weren’t in lockdown, I’d take them out for day trips.”
Emily has also gone on to find love with new partner Chris Price, 34, a bookings coordinator.
She admits: “I was really nervous about telling him about my weight loss journey initially but he was really supportive and proud of what I’ve achieved.”
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Emily is currently a size 18 and would like to drop two more dress sizes but admits she isn’t in a rush to lose those last pounds.
She says: “One thing that came up in every single counselling session was that I was too hard on myself. Instead of criticising myself I should focus on the good things that have happened and that will help carry me towards my goal.
“I have lost 10st already so I’m not going to put pressure on myself.”
- Shut Ins: Britain’s Fattest People Where Are They Now?, Channel 4, 10pm, March 1