DEPUTY headteacher James Stead, who admits he struggled to put on his shoes without struggling for breath, has lost six stone after joining a women’s running club.

Former PE teacher James, 49, now deputy head at Marsden Heights High School, Nelson, weighed in at 18 stone after taking a more sedentary desk job.

The father-of-two, who lives in Priory Way, Barnoldswick, said: “Changing from that active lifestyle to a desk job 14 years ago saw me gradually put on the weight.”

Despite playing cricket in the Ribblesdale League for Barnoldswick and playing for Colne in the Lancashire League his weight continued to creep up.

He said: “The running all started when I went on another teacher’s stag do about three years ago and one of the younger members of the staff team said he was doing a 10k and said he’d easily beat me. It was like a red rag to a bull. I was 18.5 stone at the time.

“I came into the gym at school and ran what I thought was a mile in 10 minutes. I was good for nothing. Then I found out I’d only run 1k. From there, I just kept working towards that 10k and completed the race in an hour and 10 minutes.

"I carried on a bit of running as a semi-trying-to-get-fit regime. I would run 5k once or twice a week for the next year. In July last year I ran the Leeds 10k with my wife Helen for the Northern Ballet School where our two daughters Rebecca and Aimee study.”

James’s wife joined the Barnoldswick ladies fell running club with a friend.

He said: “In late October 2012 I was running along the canal in one direction and my wife and the running club were running in the opposite direction. This carried on for a little while and one day they invited me to be an honorary lady with the group and I have seen my weight drop in the last 18 months to around 12 stone.

“That is simply because of running, with no changes to my diet. I’m still having my school puddings. I haven’t been 12 stone since I was 21.

“When I was at my most extreme weight I had to put my shoes on with a shoe horn because it took my breath away just bending down.”

James said he would get on the scales once a month and said the weight loss was quite rapidly.

He said: “My students and fellow staff have said the weight loss is massively noticeable.

“The running club has been really enthusiastic and caters for all levels. I was a beginner at 48-years-old. I found it to be a really supportive atmosphere.

“I still go out now and then with the ladies group and now because I have made a bit of progress I lead a group of less experienced runners sometimes.

“It would be nice to be able to catch up to a couple of the ladies who are always a few paces in front of me.”