A former fatty who ballooned to 23 stone is competing in this weekend’s London Marathon – after shedding nearly HALF his body weight.
Super-fit Jerome Timbrell, 39, piled on the pounds by comfort eating after being caught up in a traumatic armed siege 13 years ago.
He got so fat he was unable to walk without hurting his knees and underwent gastric bypass surgery three years ago.
Since then he has adopted a healthy lifestyle and taken up running – and is now unrecognisable as he tips the scales at 12 stone.
He is now he preparing to tackle the 26-mile London Marathon to raise cash for those who helped him overcome his weighty problem.
Father-of-two Jerome said today: ”I’m aiming to do four marathons this year – it is something I could never have dreamed of doing before.
”I have lost so much weight. If I didn’t have the operation I guarantee I would be in a wheelchair by now.”
Jerome, a business safety advisor from Spaxton, Somerset, was working in Brussels, Belgium, in 1998 when he was caught up in an armed raid.
Gunmen burst into the warehouse he was working at – attempting to steal some of the store’s £12million pounds worth of computer parts.
But the bungled heist turned into a stand-off with police and Jerome found himself bundled into the back of a vehicle and dumped him in a wood.
No-one was ever caught for the terrifying raid and Jerome fled back to Britain days later.
He said: ”It was really scary – these five guys with machine guns burst in.
”They triggered the alarms and the police arrived and there was a stand-off – a passer-by was shot.
”I was taken in a car and dumped in a wood. They were speaking in French and kept saying the word ‘morte’ – meaning dead – so I thought I was going to die.
”Because of the trauma of it I went off the rails. I took to eating food, mainly takeways like kebab and chips.
”I was out of control.”
Jerome returned to Britain and gained more than seven stone before tipping the scales at 23-stone in 2004.
He piled on so much fat that he would develop pains in his knees and feet after walking for more than an hour,
But it was at the birth of second child Amelia, now five, that he decided something needed to be done.
After taking advise from wife Catherine, a GP, he decided to look into a gastric bypass procedure.
The operation decreases the size of the stomach and makes the digestion process shorter – not allowing keen eaters to scoff as much food as they did before.
Jerome spent three-and-a-half years on a waiting list before undergoing the operation in October 2008 at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
Then, with the help of local running group the Quantock Harriers, the weight dropped off him.
Jerome, who also has a son Miles, seven, lost a remarkable 11 stone.
He said: ”The operation has changed my life. I’ve lost so much weight because I’m eating portions one-third of the size before.
”I feel much healthier and my wife, Catherine, and children, Miles and Amelia, are really pleased with the new me.
”If I didn’t have the operation I guarantee I would be in a wheelchair now.”
Jerome is now tackling this Saturday’s London Marathon for the second time – running for the British Obesity Surgery Patients Association, which helped him through his ordeal.
To sponsor Jerome, please visit www.justgiving.com/Jerome-Timbrell.