Natasha Bunby has maintained an 11st weight loss for eight years, despite being in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis.
She has received her trophy in the post ahead of the virtual national award ceremony on Saturday.
Natasha said: “Never ever did I think I’d see my name on this award. The reason I applied for this competition was because I wanted to fly the flag for disabled people. I wanted to show that less able-bodied people can too maintain long-term weight loss success.
“I spend my life feeling different, especially when others don’t treat me kindly. People often describe me as the woman in the wheelchair that’s brave, always smiles, but behind that smile I’m not always brave and that’s okay.
“People can often be cruel to those with a disability. I’m often left out and I often can’t join in, even when I want to. Winning this award made me feel like, as a company, we are truly accepting of everyone.”
Natasha attends a Worthing Slimming World group, having joined in March 2011, wearing a size 28 and weighing 21st 5½lbs.
She slimmed down to 10st 5lbs in 18 months and now runs her own groups in Littlehampton and Lancing.
She said: “I still attend group as a member and soak up all the tips and inspiration. If my weight does go up one week, I know I’ve got all the tools I need.”
Natasha was named the winner in February and was due to be lauded alongside other national winners at the annual ceremony this month.
Since Covid-19 hit, every part of Natasha’s business has been affected and the ceremony itself had to be done differently to normal.
During lockdown, all Slimming World groups were suspended and as a self-employed franchisee, Natasha had to learn a whole new way of working to continue supporting her members and keep her business successful.
Slimming World says she has remained focussed and, through ups and downs, she has just kept going.
Natasha said: “Since losing weight, I’ve discovered an inner strength and courage that I never knew I had.
“I hope to inspire people with disabilities and get across the message that even if you’re not completely mobile, you can lose weight and change your life for the better – just as I have.”