Lasswade great-grandma overcomes triple family tragedy to shed six stone

Brenda Shaw, before and after she lost weight.
Brenda Shaw, before and after she lost weight.

For bubbly Brenda Shaw, it was the stress of a triple family tragedy that was the trigger for her potentially dangerous weight gain.

Shortly after losing both her mum and dad, her husband Ian suffered a fatal heart attack at the wheel of his car on the M8 in 1992.

Ian’s tragic accident followed the death of Brenda’s dad, Tom, and then mum, Ethel, being killed while crossing a road in Bolton, Lancashire – all in the space of just three years.

Brenda’s demanding job as HR manager took her around the UK from her home in Lasswade – grabbing unhealthy snacks from motorway service stations as she went.

“My job at that time meant me travelling throughout the country and eating on the hoof,” recalled Brenda.

Suffering a health scare of her own in 2015, Brenda decided to take action and is now celebrating shedding more than six stone.

Her GP confirmed at an annual check-up Brenda had the start of type 2 Diabetes and wanted to prescribe her medication.

The prospect of being on drugs, along with some good-natured ribbing from supportive daughter Beverley, was the push Brenda needed.

“Losing the weight has given me my life back, more confidence, made me happier with myself, and clothes that fit that are now five times smaller than they used to be,” beamed the 80-year-old.

“My daughter has been a good motivator with what she says, and sometimes she has been a bit caustic with her comments, like saying I looked like a stranded whale, even though said in jest, it had the desired effect.

“Like most overweight people, our life revolves around food, and for me if it wasn’t nailed down, it was for the mouth. I used to eat lots of cakes and sweets.”

So Brenda signed up to WW’s weight loss programme and, having never missed a meeting in two years, has seen her weight drop from 18st 4lbs to 11st 13½lbs.

“My journey with WW has not always been without doubt that I would ever achieve any loss at all, and throughout the time I have had a few wobbles,” admitted Brenda.

But with the support of WW wellness coach Sandra McConachie, she persevered and is now reaping the benefits.

“I have two lovely great grandchildren, and when they were younger, and I was a lot slimmer we had lovely times together,” recalled Brenda.

“I used to take them swimming, horse riding, to the parks, but as I became rather large in stature it became very difficult to do these things.

“These days they both have horses or ponies, and both compete in equestrian events and I go with them sometimes to cheer them on, which gives me the motivation to get out and about.”

She no longer uses a walking stick and can enjoy shopping for clothes again.

“My mobility is great compared to before I started my journey,” said Brenda. “I was unable to walk 100 yards without puffing and panting. I used a walking cane three years ago, but I can’t remember the last time I have used it, and I’m no longer breathless.

“If I can do it then so can anybody else. It is without doubt a decision well-made and completely painless, you really need to want to do it.”