At his worst, Danny Hague, of Ashford, tipped the scales at 26.5 stone (371 pounds). Climbing the stairs would leave him breathless and his diet consisted largely of take-away meals and unhealthy snacks.
Several generations of his family served in the Armed Forces but Royal Navy guidelines stated a BMI (body mass index) score which exceeds 28 (overweight or obese) could prevent entry. Danny, aged 25, realised something needed to change.
He heard about the IMPACT South-East intensive training programme at Concept Training in Ashford. The 13-week course, held three times per year, prepares 16-24 year olds for entry into the Armed Forces or uniformed public services. Delivered by experts with military backgrounds, participants improve physical fitness, confidence, interview techniques, CV writing and communication, and gain qualifications in employability, personal development and English and maths.
IMPACT is funded by the European Union and Education and Skills Funding Agency under South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) Skills Support for the Unemployed (SSU) programme. Skills Training UK delivers the SSU contract for SELEP in partnership with 26 local training companies in Kent.
Over the course of 18 months, Danny sweated off nearly half his body weight to reach 15.4st (215lbs). He started his new military life as a Royal Navy weapons engineer this month.
He said: “It’s been a long but necessary journey. I used to do nothing around the house. I used to sit, eat, play games and work at a Chinese take-away in the evenings. I was just bored all the time. It was pretty depressing. Looking back now, I can’t believe that was me.
“I started the IMPACT course and was surprised with how well I adapted. It’s very full-on. I’m not used to getting up at 6am! It’s massively helped me. I’ve learned a whole new lifestyle: healthy eating, opening up to people, doing more sports and seeing other people. I credit all my weight loss to the IMPACT course. If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t have changed. I would have still been just sat at home.
“I actually talk to people now. I was always the quiet one, sat in the corner, listening to music. Physically, walking up the stairs used to tire me out. Now I can jog 31 miles with a weight on my back in just over seven hours. I feel a lot better within myself.”
Danny is set to undergo initial training with the Royal Navy at Rayleigh and Plymouth before being posted to Portsmouth for 18 months.
Danny said: “Joining the Royal Navy was always in the back of my mind as a secondary thing because I knew I couldn’t do it. I was too overweight and too lazy. But after completing this programme, they’ve accepted me, and I’m extremely excited to go. I’ll be proud to serve my country and I’ll see what I can achieve.”
Danny also received an award from Skills Training UK to celebrate his progress.
“When we first met Danny, he was very shy. He always had his head down and his earphones on. But his transformation has been fantastic. He has become a true leader, always willing to help others, and the fact that he has managed to lose that amount of weight and keep it off is a great credit to him. We just think he’s amazing.”
Chris Pound, Director of Concept Training