A SUPER slimmer who credits a new love of running as the driving force behind her success is helping others to get the bug to get fit and lose weight.

Dionne Torkington-Craven, 44, from Bedale, was told by her doctor 18 months ago that she was obese and needed to lose weight for the sake of her health.

Deciding that she needed to take drastic action, she joined WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and booked her place in a half marathon with just six months to train.

She has lost six stone in 17 months.

She said: "WW was great in helping with the support in eating better, but a friend told me I needed a bigger goal to aim towards.

"A friend and I started the Swaledale Shufflers in Richmond – we put it on social media and invited anyone who thought they 'couldn't run' to come along.

"We got more than 40 women – and one man – to the first session and together we worked on the couch to 5km challenge.

"We eventually did our first 5km Park Run together, and then progressed to running 10km."

Ms Torkington-Craven said on the back of the success of the first running group, the Catterick Caterpillars was formed.

"We did the same thing in Catterick and now that group is preparing for their first Park Run, I'll be dressed as a caterpillar and they will be dressed as butterflies because they have graduated from caterpillars."

She said helping others had kept her motivated, and on Sunday she completed her first full marathon in Chester.

"I did my first half marathon in nearly three hours, which wasn't great, but I've since done two more and at the Great North Run I finished in two hours 14 minutes which was a big improvement.

"I would never have believed 18 months ago that I would have run a marathon and planning the next one."

She said WW had also helped her succeed, and she was planning to become a WW leader to support others into a healthier lifestyle.

She added: "We are continuing a running group on Saturday mornings at 11.30am from The Station, Richmond."

Anyone is welcome, all ages and abilities. Contact the Swaledale Shufflers or Catterick Caterpillars on Facebook or call Ms Torkington-Craven on 07471-216301.