Sharon Painter, my Slimming World consultant, and her husband Quentin picked up Robert and me and drove us to Birmingham's ICC Centre which is where the ball was being held. We were staying in the Hyatt hotel across from it. Robert's and my room was on the 11th floor. We arrived at around 10:30am. I thought my hair and make-up appointment was at 11:00am, but when Sharon and I went to the 23rd floor for the appointment, I found out I was listed as having my appointment at noon. So Sharon, Sharon's husband and I got on the lift (known in the US as an elevator) and headed back down to my floor to pick up Robert, so we could all go out to get some lunch. There were a lot of people on the lift with us.
When we got off of the lift, Sharon's husband asked, "Did you know who that was?" I had no idea who any of the people on the lift with us were, but apparently one of them was Rio Ferdinand. For those of you in the US who are scratching your heads and wondering who Rio Ferdinand is, he is a "football" (i.e. soccer) player here who plays for Manchester United. Did I mention that people in the UK are football/soccer mad?
We went and got Robert and then got back onto the lift to head downstairs. There was a woman on the lift wearing large dark sunglasses who looked vaguely familiar. Sharon leaned towards her and said, "Your disguise is fabulous!" with a cheeky grin. She smiled and removed her sunglasses and chatted with us. It was Slimming World's founder Margaret Miles-Bramwell!
We walked outside and found a grocery store where we I bought two fruit salads and Robert bought some pasta and an egg and lettuce salad. Robert and I went back to our room to eat. I had brought some Slimming World HiFi bars with us as well as a couple cans of Sprite Zero.
Once we had eaten, it was time for my hair and make-up appointment. I went back up to the 23rd floor of the hotel. This time I did not meet any celebrities. *sigh*
The girls who did everyone's hair and make-up were very good at their jobs and everyone looked fabulous! When I got there, Julie was just finished having her hair and make-up done, while Harriet was getting her hair done and had already had her make-up done. Soon after, Jan Coupe arrived (one half of the two who won Couple Of The Year this year), and others I knew started arriving.
I had my make-up done, and then my hair done. The hairstylist decided, after my hair was curled, to sweep it up and to the side. She did a wonderful job with it. When she was finished she asked if I wanted her to spray some sparkle in my hair. She needn't have asked! Of course, I did! I'd already decided that this would be my night to shine!
Once done, I asked the artists who had styled us all if I could take their photo, and they agreed. I'd like to take this moment to thank them again for all of their hard work.
I went back to my room to change into my little black dress for the photos with Justin Lee Collins and Margaret Miles-Bramwell. Robert was not in our room. (I found out later he had gone to see "Despicable Me.")
I met up with Sharon. I had made sure to bring my camera along and took some photos while we waited. I took photos of Harriet Jenkins, Julie Cummings and Susan Melville. Harriet's consultant Joanna Mortimore was with her, and Julie was accompanied by her consultant Donna Shore.
Sharon, using my camera, took some photos of me.
And Julie took a photo with her own camera of Susan with me and one of me on my own.
Next we had the rehearsals. When we walked into the room it was already ready with the lights and the table settings.
We practiced the line-up of how we were going to walk onto the stage. We were told what songs would be playing when we walked out. (For me, the song chosen was "California Girls."And we were told the question that Juston Lee Collins would ask us (a different question for each of us). (I am laughing as I type this part, and you'll find out why later.) My question was about how Slimming World fits in with family life.
Then we were allowed some time to rest, so I went back to my room. Robert was there and he took some photos of me at the window to both show the view that we had and to show my hairstyle.
Then the fun part of the night began; I got to dress up in the dress I'd bought for the occasion! (I bought my dress at /Rosella's Bridal Gowns in Cirencester.) Robert wore a suit with dicky and bow tie. We went into a room where backdrops were set up for us to have professional photos taken. I may buy the ones we had taken at a later date and share them here, but as we knew those photos would have to wait, we took some of our own out in the hallway.
In the room where the photos were taken, this was the "bartender:"
(photo courtesy of Julie Cummings)
The fun thing about having my own blog is that, although I will be sharing photos of all of the final ten contestants and other Slimming World winners, I get to be the star here. I get to share as many pictures of myself as I want to. The irony about the fact that I want to share these photos of myself is that two years ago I would have been horrified at the thought of people all over the world seeing photos of me. I felt big and unattractive, and I preferred to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. But tonight, I suffered from none of that self-consciousness. I loved getting to dress like a princess. I loved how tiny my waist looked in the dress, and I loved showing myself off a bit for once! After all, how often does a 38 year old get to feel like a princess?
Next we all went into the ballroom and the night began in earnest. First, Margaret Miles-Bramwell came out and spoke to the audience.
Then our celebrity presenter, Justin Lee Collins, came out.
First out was Charmaine Coates. She is 33, 5'4" tall and has lost an amazin 9 stone 13 pounds (139 pounds). She is from Minehead, Somerset and her Slimming World consultant is Laraine Smith.
Next on stage was Julie Cummings. Julie is 36 years old, 5'5" tall and has lost an incredible 11 stone (154 pounds)! She is from St. Georges, Shropshire and her consultant is Donna Shore.
After Julie, it was Eileen Curoe's turn on stage. Eileen is 51 years old, 5'6" tall, and has lost a whopping 11 stone 3 pounds (157 pounds)! She is from Mayfield, Northern Ireland and her consultant is Dawn Richardson.
I was the fourth one to get to take the stage. Sharon and I had decided that, when we took the required pause as we passed through the heart-shaped entrance to the stage, she would hold up her hands up as if presenting me and I would twirl. Fortunately, I managed to do the maneuver without falling over. (Robert tried to video our entrance. It was taken with his phone and the quality is very poor. He says to listen to all of the shouts and cheers though. He says I had the largest cheering he heard that night, but our theory is that it was from the Bristol and Wiltshire district Slimming World ladies.)
For those of you who don't know, I am 38 years old, 5'3" tall (sometimes 5'2" tall depending on who is doing the measuring) and have now lost 10 stone 5 pounds (145 pounds). I am from Swindon, Wiltshire, and my consultant is Sharon Painter.
Just before we walked in, some of our story would show on the big tv screens against the wall. And the tv screens continued to show us once we were on the stage.
(photo courtesy of Clive Morgan)
(photo courtesy of Clive Morgan)
My question didn't really go as planned. I mentioned my seven children, which was pertinent to the fact that Slimming World fits in with family life, and Justin Lee Collins asked me to name them all. Normally, this would not be a problem, but, as I was on stage, I couldnt' believe it but I actually had to think about the names to bring them to mind! What a nightmare if I had actually forgotten my kids names! ;) I got a round of applause when I finished naming my children, and Justin pointed out that all I did was remember my own kids' names which was hardly a reason for applause. Hah!
Also having to do with family life and Slimming World, I mentioned that my husband had also lost a lot of weight (nearly 7 stone). Justin had me point Robert out in the audience, and when he saw him, he commented, "Oh, he's gorgeous!" Of course, I agree with him because Robert really is incredibly handsome. Then Justin asked him to come up onto the stage! Robert is definitely not shy, so he came right up.
One thing Justin could not have been aware of from way up on the stage looking down at Robert in the audience, is the fact that Robert is very tall. He's 6'8" tall. When Robert got up on the stage, Justin grabbed my hand and backed us both up as if fearful of Robert. (He wasn't really afraid, just surprised and working with it.) He commented that he felt like Frodo and Robert was Gandolph! I honestly was having trouble; my sides were starting to hurt because I couldnt' stop laughing.
(photo courtesy of Clive Morgan)
Of course, the fun wasn't yet over. Justin decided that, as gorgeous as Robert was, he needed to snog him!
(photo courtesy of Clive Morgan)
I am still hoping that someone in the audience caught all of that on video and will post it to YouTube sometime soon!
Then Justin asked me, "So what's next?" I could have said something about the children's novels I have written and am hoping to get published. I could have mentioned the two novels I am working on. I could have mentioned my blogs. I could have said something about one of the projects I am working on with my children. I could have soken about the magazines I have been writing health articles for. I could have mentioned my on-line businesses. There are a lot of things I could have spoken about to answer this question.
Before I tell you how I answered, let me explain something. I already knew that I was not going to win the title of Woman Of The Year 2010. Robert and I had already figured out who was going to win it. No, nobody at Slimming World let the name of the winner slip out. Robert and I both just happen to be really good at reading people and we made an educated guess that happened to be very accurate.
So I decided to be a bit cheeky with my answer to Justin's question. He asked, "So what's next?" and I answered, "Well, we were thinking of trying to win next year's Couple Of The Year title." Justin went along with it and presented us to the audience, saying, "What do you think? Couple Of the Year 2011!" I just might have a slightly devious streak in me!
Unfortunately, he forgot to ask Sharon her question about me, despite the fact that she had spent a few minutes figuring out how she was going to answer it. She was a good sport about it though.
After me, it was Gayle Gallagher's turn on the stage. Gayle is 35 years old, 5'2" tall and has lost an astounding 9 stone 5 pounds (131 pounds)! She is from Chester-le-Street, County Durham and her consultant is Suzanne Jones. Her husband got called up onto the stage too. He was so sweet. It looked as if he was a bit teary-eyed when he spoke of how proud he was of his wife.
Next up was Harriet Jenkins. Harriet is the youngest of us at only 25 years old. She is 5'9" tall and has lost an awesome 14 stone 12 1/2 pounds (208 1/2 pounds)! She is from Freemantle, Hampshire and her consultant is Joanna Mortimore.
Justin Lee Collins had been moaning about the fact that all of us who had come up on the stage thus far were all married. Harriet is single. And Justin was pleased.
Then it was Susan Melville's turn to come on stage. Susan is 43 years old, 5'5 1/2" tall and has lost a fantastic 10 stone 1 1/2 pounds (141 1/2 pounds)! She is from Dalkieth, Lothian (Scotland) and has a lovely sounding accent as a result. Her consultant is Fiona Neill.
Next up was Alison Murphy. Alison is 34 years old, 5'7" tall, and has lost an impressive 8 stone 5 1/2 pounds (117 1/2 pounds)! She is from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, and her consultant is Kim Osborn. These ladies are both great fun!
During Alison's interview that was being shown on the tv screen before she came out, she mentioned that she was a big eater. She innocently stated that she could eat her husband under the table. Justin picked up on that comment and had everybody laughing. I don't think he was prepared for the fact that both Alison and Kim could not only take his ribbing, but dish it back in just as funny a way!
The next finalist was Dawn Old. Dawn is 51 years old, a petite 5'1" tall, and had lost a wonderful 9 stone 11 pounds (137 pounds)! She is from Truro, Cornwall, and her consultant is Cherylyn Howard.
(The second picture of her up above is not the clearest, but I wanted to show you the assistance we got in walking down the stairs. I hoped to get a photograph taken with these bare-chested gentlemen, but for some unknown reason, they seemed eager to get away from the room (full several hundred woman) and they left promptly after the show ended.)
Next on stage was Jane Parry. Jane is 47 years old, 5'3" tall, and has lost an incredible 11 stone 3 pounds (157 pounds)! She is from Sedgley, West Midlands, and her consultant is Sue Rollason.
Once we had all done our stage bit and were seated again, it was time for the other Slimming World contest winners to make an appearance and be given their trophies.
First up was the Consultant Slimmer Of The Year, Sue Wright. Sue is 30 years old, 5'10" tall, and has lost 7 stone 7 1/2 pounds (105 1/2 pounds)! she is from Swadincote, Derbyshire and her consultant is Leigh Wright.
(I do not have a photo of Sue on the stage, so if anyone was at the ball and has one they could share with me so I could put it in here, it would be appreciated.)
Next up was the Top Target Consultant, Sylvia Rubery. Sylvia is 38 years old, 5'7" tall, and has lost 5 stone 1 pound (71 pounds)! She has kept the weight off for 6 years. She is from Worle, Somerset.
The it was Miss Slinky's turn on stage. Noelle Wilkinson is 51 years old, 5'7" tall and has lost 4 stone 3 pounds (59 pounds)! She is from Middlewich, Cheshire and her consultant is Sonia Nurse. Noelle absolutely looks decades younger than her age. She's gorgeous!
The next couple was a couple Robert and I had already met before when we competed in the Couple Of The Year competition and got through to the finals. Couple of The Year 2010 Jan and Alan Coupe looked wonderful tonight! Alan is 56 years old, 5'7" tall and has lost 8 stone 2 pounds (114 pounds)! Jan is 51 years old, 5'6" tall and has lost 8 stone (112 pounds)! Together, they have lost a combined total of 16 stone 2 pounds (226 pounds)! They are from Stubbington, Hampshire and their consultant is Christine Micallef.
Then it was time for the Greatest Loser Mike Smith to take the stage. Mike is 57 years old, 5'10" tall and has lost the astonishing total of 17 stone 1 1/2 pounds (239 1/2 pounds)! He is from Eckington, Derbyshire and his consultant is Lynne Riley.
Our next man up was Man Of The Year Stuart Howells. Stuart is 43 years old, 5'8" tall and has lost an incredible 12 stone 6 pounds (174 pounds)! He is from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, and his consultant is Diane Williams. When Justin spoke with him , he mentioned that he runs a marathin every weekend. Justin didn't believe him and went into the audience to ask Stuart's wife Lisa about it. She confirmed that, yes, Stuart did run that much. When she spoke about all that her husband had achieved, she was so proud of him and she got really teary about it. She was very sweet and it was obvious how much she loved her husband.
(I did not have a photo of Stuart on the stage, so I grabbed this photo off of their Facebook page of he and his wife.)
Next up was Top Target Memeber Tracy Heighway. Tracy is 40 years old, 5'8" tall and has lost 6 stone 8 pounds (92 pounds)! She is from Chadwell St. Mary, Essex, and her consultant is Susan Simpson.
(I do not have a photo of Tracy on the stage, so if anyone was at the ball and has one they could share with me so I could put it in here, it would be appreciated.)
Last up was Young Slimmer Of The Year Kelly Meager. Kelly is 21 years old, 6 feet tall and has lost an impressive 10 stone 10 pounds (150 pounds)! She is from Canterbury, Kent, and her consultant is Sally de-Vere.
(I do not have a photo of Kelly on the stage, so if anyone was at the ball and has one they could share with me so I could put it in here, it would be appreciated.)
The it was time for the ten finalists to go back up on the stage with our consultants and wait for the winner of the title of Woman Of The Year 2010 to be announced.
Rebecca Wheatley, Slimming World's Woman Of The Year 2009, joined us on the stage with Justin Lee Collins.
Slimming World's Woman Of The Year 2010 is Harriet Jenkins!
Rebecca Wheatley crowned Harriet.
And then all of the 2010 winners joined us on the stage again.
(photo courtesy of Julie Ower)
I had a fabulous night. It was fun and memorable and absolutely delightful! If anyone from Slimming World headquarters is reading this, just let me say a really big THANK YOU!!!!