Gran Carol Kelly says she is ‘the biggest winner and the biggest loser’ after scooping £10,000 on national TV - then shedding a third of her body weight following an embarrassing holiday mishap.
Viewers saw Carol, 63, hit the jackpot on ITV gameshow Tipping Point on Friday - but since filming the show almost a year ago, she has lost five-and-a-half stone having previously tipped the scales at more than 17 stone.
Carol was inspired to sign up to the town’s Slimming World group after spending three hours stuck in a Tenerife swimming pool and is almost unrecognisable from the way she appeared on TV.
It was not long after filming the show last year that disaster stuck on a holiday with husband Peter.
“Peter had gone for a walk and I jumped in the pool,” she said.
“I realised I could not get out of the pool - it did not have any walk-in steps, just vertical ones, and I was too fat.
I realised I could not get out of the pool - it did not have any walk-in steps, just vertical ones, and I was too fat.Carol Kelly
“There was a hoist but when I spoke to the lifeguard it was out of action. I paddled around for about three hours because I just could not get out.
“Eventually some blokes round the pool asked if I was alright and I said I couldn’t get out so they literally hauled me out.
“It was very embarrassing, I just said ‘That’s it, it’s coming off.’
“I was 17 stone, one-and-a-half lbs, and I am only five foot one.
“I walked through Hetton Slimming World doors and it was the best thing I have ever done.”
That was in July last year: “I have lost five-and-a-half stone exactly in eight months,” said Carol.
“I feel fabulous.”
Looking back on her TV appearance, Carol said she had the time of her life in the studio.
“It was broadcast on Friday, but it was originally recorded on March 21 last year,” she said.
“I didn’t know it was going to be that long - all they said was they would let me know when it was on, which they did.
“I knew it was for the new series, so it would be on whenever that started, but that was all I knew.”
“It was fabulous. It really was one of the best days I have ever had.
“It was such fun and the people were lovely. Ben Shephard was first class and they made me feel really welcome.”
Answering the questions was the easy bit, however. The game is based on the traditional seaside Penny Falls game and requires more than a touch of good fortune.
“You don’t have to be a brainbox - the questions were petty easy,” said office worker Carol.
“But you don’t just have to answer the questions, it depends on how the machine behaves. Ben called me the ‘Tipping Point Jedi’ because the machine was just doing whatever I wanted.”
Carol has been voted her slimming group’s Greatest Loser and Miss Slinky by fellow members.
Now the gran-of-four is looking forward to a new lease of life: “I need a hip replacement but the doctors would not let me have the operation because I was too heavy,” she said.
“Now I have been given a date for the operation. My life is going to change even further for the better.”
Bronia Bowe is the leader of Slimming World’s Hetton evening group: “Carol has been amazing,” she said.
“She has such a wonderful, warm personality and had been an integral part of the group. I am hoping that after she gets her hip replacement, I can get her to become a consultant - she is just so wonderful and caring.”