Maxine’s Journey - from Slimming to Samba!

Where did my journey begin?…To be honest it all began when I saw an advert in the local paper asking for people who had a lot of weight to lose to join the Biggest Loser Challenge to raise money for the Hospice of St Francis.

Immediately I could relate to the advert. I had a lot of weight to lose and I was aware of the wonderful work of the Hospice through the support it had provided to a family I knew who had accessed the children’s services. I was certain that if I was being sponsored to lose weight I would not want to let anyone down, so I signed up and was delighted to be given the opportunity to take on the challenge.

One of my first sponsors came in from a friend from my son’s school. She sponsored me immediately and not only that but she encouraged and supported me, particularly in the early weeks offering kind words and encouragement and constantly asking for updates. This I valued very much. I can’t find the words to explain the next bit…Before I had even finished the Biggest Loser challenge this very friend had been diagnosed with cancer and sadly died months later, using the very services she had been so keen to support - unaware of what was to come for her.

The horror of this news and the months of watching this happen in front of my very eyes made the fundraising a real priority for me. Never before had I felt more passionate about raising awareness and money for services which are so invaluable. After the Biggest Loser Challenge I took part in the Midnight Walk and this was extremely moving. The team spirit in the community was magical. What could I do next to raise more money? Strictly Learn Dancing!

I started to seek out a willing dance partner - It was going to be a terrifying experience and one very much out of my comfort zone (I can still remember word for word the one line I had in a school play 32 years ago) but having witnessed what this family had been through nothing could compare. In my heart this is what motivated me to do Strictly. My friend will never know the impact her passing has had on me but that doesn’t matter because it’s not about me – all I can do now is continue to help others who may find themselves in similar situations and that’s my own way of saying thank you to her and appreciating her support when I needed it.

I have met some truly amazing people throughout these experiences. I’ve lost weight; I’ve learned to dance (to the best of my ability!) and on top of all that I’ve gained some beautiful friends that I love. But more importantly I know I have raised lots of money and awareness. My friend will never know the impact her passing has had on me ... all I can do now is continue to help others who may find themselves in similar situations and that’s my own way of saying thank you to her and appreciating her support when I needed it.

Maxine Smith

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