A mum-of-two who ballooned to over 15 stone was shamed into going on a diet – after getting wedged in a theme park ride at Legoland.
Zoey Patrick, 29, started piling on the pounds after gorging on unhealthy NHS hospital food when her newborn daughter was taken ill seven years ago.
At her heaviest the former professional singer struggled to fit into a size 18 dress and tipped the scales at over 15 stone.
She decided she needed to lose weight following a trip to Legoland Windsor in August last year.
Zoey went to go on a ride with her children Keira, seven, and Darci, three, but the safety bar would not fit over her bulky frame.
The embarrassed mum decided enough was enough and joined her local Slimming World that September.
And she has shed an impressive five stone in less than 12 months and now can fit into a dress for the first time in over seven years.
Zoey, from Worcester, says: “I decided I needed to do something about my weight after the trip to Legoland.
“Rather than face the humiliation of putting my hands up and saying ‘excuse me, I’m too fat for this ride’ I just held the safety bar down and prayed I didn’t fall out.
“It was probably a bit risky but I was too embarrassed and I knew then I had do something about my weight
“I also caught myself in a Marks & Spencer shop window at around the same time and could not believe how big I had become.”
Zoey started putting on weight following the birth of her first child Keira in 2008 when she was hospitalised shortly after being born.
Her daughter developed osteomyelitis, a rare condition which inflames bone marrow, due to an infection in her thigh.
The illness is usually only found in children in underdeveloped countries and left Keira battling for her life for three months at Southampton General Hospital.
During that time she ate unhealthy hospital food, snacking in the cafes and guzzling down up to six energy drinks a day.
She added: “I didn’t want to fall asleep because I wanted to be with Keira. Doctors told me she probably wouldn’t survive and even if she did she would never be able to walk.
“It was so rare doctors did not know what it was for ages and I thought I was going to lose my baby.
“I just ate at the hospital where I could. I popped to the cafe or a vending machine.
“I also probably ate around four takeaways a week , I’d have curry, Chinese, KFC and McDonalds.
“What was happening to my daughter was horrible and at the same I was getting bigger and becoming somebody I hated to be.
“I started getting bouts of severe anxiety and I really hit rock bottom.”
Keira pulled through her illness and returned home but required regular trips to see nutritionists and dieticians.
She was even placed in a half body cast for five months after snapping her femur and was in the care of Birmingham Children’s Hospital until last year, when she was finally given the all clear.
Zoey, who lives with fiance Jack Dunham, 29, added: “After going through such a difficult period I knew it was time to focus on myself.
“Losing this weight is like a dream come true and it has given me a new lease of life.
“I became quite isolated but now I’m not ashamed about going out to birthday parties with my children or swimming. It has made me much more sociable and confident.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t be fat for 30 and I’ve managed to get there just in time.”
Zoey now weighs a lean 10st and wears a svelte size 10 dress after replacing her diet with a healthier intake of fruit and vegetables.
She is due to graduate from the University of Worcester in November with a degree in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
She added: “It’s going to be nice to be able to wear a really nice dress rather than big baggy clothes for my graduations photos.
“I’d always seen clothes I was never able to wear because I had to shop at plus-sized clothes stores.
“Now I can go into the likes of Topshop and River Island and pick out nice dresses and be a bit more fashionable.
“I go out more now with my friends because I have the confidence to wear a little black dress.
“Its really nice not to be the fattest girl in the bar. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, I say.”
Three weeks ago Zoey was crowned Woman of the Year 2015 at her local Slimming World group in Worcester.
Her consultant Peggy Sowerby added: “I am so incredibly proud of Zoey – she has done so well and is such an inspiration to the rest of the group.”