Norwich YMCA worker who weighed 31 stone turns life around to take on charity bicycle ride for Sport Relief

A man who was addicted to pizzas and burgers and weighed 31 stone will tackle a charity bicycle ride after shedding seven stone.

Bob Garrard-Williams rebuilt his life through Norwich YMCA after going bankrupt and being on the verge of homelessness.

The 32-year-old suffered from depression and an eating disorder in which he would eat three 12-inch pizzas a day along with chips, burgers and ice cream.

The huge food bills and low wages from bar work led him into debt and then bankruptcy.

He had to leave his council house when he could not keep up the rent.

Sleeping on friends' sofas he turned to the YMCA on St Giles Street for help.

Now weighing 24 stone and with no cartilage in his left knee Mr Garrard-Williams is taking painkillers to get him through a 50km bicycle ride for Sport Relief.

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'The YMCA pretty much saved my life,' he said. 'I have always had a depressive tendency even when I was a kid.

'When I turned 26 things went down hill. Work was getting to me and I was getting in debt. I let debts build up. I didn't want to ask for help. I was too embarrassed.'

Mr Garrard-Williams was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2008 and fights a daily battle to keep himself off the junk food.

He said: 'Food was like a drug for me. It was the one thing keeping me alive and the one thing that was going to kill me.

'I was eating myself to death. My diet was a heart attack waiting to happen.

'I was at a point where the initial buzz (of eating) wore off very quickly and I needed more comfort.

'Eating was my way of coping. At one point I had nothing to live for.'

Now a support worker for the YMCA and living in his own flat in the city, Mr Garrard-Williams has put his life back together through getting counselling and debt advice from the YMCA.

Despite his health problems he is determined to complete the charity challenge. Along with seven YMCA residents, he will ride 50km on an exercise bike at Fitness First at the Riverside on March 25 for charity Sport Relief.

To sponsor the YMCA fundraisers visit 50kchallenge

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Contact reporter Tom Bristow on 01603772313 or email