JOANNE Large is big by name but no longer by nature, after she halved her dress size in a year and a half.

The 28-year-old teacher from Acomb, has lost 5½ stone – dropping from a size 24 to size 12 – in only 18 months.

“I’ve never been slim, so I became thick-skinned,” said Joanne, a teacher at Boston Spa secondary school.

“The pupils at school used to be embarrassed about calling me ‘Miss Large’ considering my size, so they used to call me ‘Miss Medium’ instead.

“I learned to joke about it.”

Joanne’s first attempt at dieting began successfully, with a loss of two stone in three months, but she didn’t manage to keep the weight off.

After a family bereavement, she began to put the weight back on, saying: “I wasn’t my own priority, life got in the way.”

After seeing photographs of herself in a bridesmaid’s dress at her sister’s wedding; Joanne was spurred on to shift the weight and joined Harrogate's Slimming World.

“Joining the Harrogate group was a huge confidence boost,” she said. “It’s as much as about the support you get from your friends there, as it is about the advice they give you.”

Her dramatic weight-loss success saw her reaching the district final of Woman Of The Year 2012, and has inspired her colleagues and family members.

“I even have pupils doing a double-take when they see me,” she said. “It’s great to be able to tell them I did it through healthy eating – I can be an example to them now.”

For Joanne, the best thing about the weight loss is being able to do more.

“I'd always wanted to go to GoApe and on rides at theme parks – but I was concerned I wouldn’t fit into the harnesses or I’d look squashed. Now I don’t worry about that at all. I am no longer large by both name and nature."

Jo's vital statistics

Weight: 17.5 stone
Dress size: 24
Ate/drank: Entire multibags of crisps, sauces from jars
Weight: 12st
Dress size: 12
Eats/drinks: Fresh produce and lean meats, homemade sauces