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Sunday 25 February 2018

'I was determined not to let the bullies win' - Father and son lost six stone together after being bullied

Shane Bissett and his son Jack (pictured) together have lost 6 stone and have grown in confidence. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Shane Bissett and his son Jack (pictured) together have lost 6 stone and have grown in confidence. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh

The parents of a teenager who was bullied because of his weight have appealed to young people who are being targeted, whatever the reason, to ask for help.

As thousands of students prepare to return to school this week, Shane and Tanya Bissett, from Balbriggan, said the best thing son Jack ever did was "speak to us and let us in to help".

Jack was bullied over his weight and has said he is determined not to let the bullies win Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Jack was bullied over his weight and has said he is determined not to let the bullies win Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

"I was bullied for a long time over my weight and I was determined not to let the bullies win," said the 14-year-old.

Jack and his dad have lost nearly six stone between them, and Jack feels more confident as a result.

He has lost nearly two stone and has had the confidence to join Balbriggan Rugby Club.

Shane (35) joined him on his weight loss journey, and the father and son are proud of what they have achieved.

"I was sick of not being able to go into shops and buy clothes off the shelf," said Shane, while Jack added: "I was tired of being jeered over my weight."

The pair joined Slimming World in Balbriggan with a family friend in March.

Jack, who is going into third year at Balbriggan Community College, said he felt upbeat after shedding weight.

"I was optimistic and I was determined to make lifelong changes and break bad habits," he said.

Shane said he was delighted to see the difference that losing weight has made to his son's life.

"It was heartbreaking to see Jack so miserable and unhappy. He would just hide away in his room," said Shane.

"We tried to get him to join different clubs but he didn't have the confidence or interest to try new things.

"We would just like to tell young people not to be afraid to speak out and ask for help. There's loads of support out there and there would be no judgment from anybody.

"We know how hard it was to watch Jack suffer because he didn't want to get anyone in trouble and didn't want to speak out.

"The best thing Jack ever did was open his mouth and let us in to help him.

"The difference in him is unreal - he's like a new person since opening up and starting his lifestyle change, and it's amazing to watch him try all these new things.

"If there are other parents in the same situation, I would encourage them to get their son or daughter to join a Slimming World group.

"If they're not sure about it, just sit in on a class and you'll see the support that's there for them.

"If you join together, you'll help to motivate each other and push each other to make the changes needed."

Jack, who has three younger siblings - Martin (11), Alex (8) and Conor (3) - has recently returned from a 10-day Scout jamboree in Denmark.

He went with the 34th/161st Balbriggan Scouts, something Shane said "he would never have had the confidence to even consider doing before he started his lifestyle change".

Jack has dropped from 12st 2lb to 10st 5lb and his waist has shrunk from a 38 to 32.

His advice to anybody else concerned about their weight is: "Don't be ashamed and hide away.

"Slimming World is so easy to follow. Don't worry about what others think or say either.

"You don't feel like you're being judged in the group and, if you're struggling, the consultant Sinead Dignam is great at making you feel motivated and getting back on plan.

"I was bullied for a long time over my weight and I was determined not to let the bullies win. If I can make this change, any young person can do it.

"The hardest part of the journey is those first steps into the group, but you'll be so happy you did it.

"I would tell anybody to speak to a parent, sibling or close family member and not to be afraid.

"Even a teacher, because there's a great support system in school.

"I have a fantastic support network between my parents, my family, friends, school and Sinead in Slimming World, so please don't suffer like I did for a long time."

Shane said he has lost nearly 4st, dropping from 22st 5lb, having a 44-inch waist and wearing a XXXL top to being 18st 9lb with a 38-inch waist and an XL top size.

Shane wants to lose more weight and he continues to go to his Slimming World group in Flemington Community Centre.

"I haven't set a final target just yet as I have one target of reaching 13 stone," he said.

"I'm not sure if it would suit me to be 13 stone - this is a long journey, not a quick fix.

"Jack and I have more energy, feel better and look better and we can both walk into any shop and buy something straight from the shelf."

Herald

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