TWO York politicians are now shadows of their former selves as they go into the last month of a "Political Heavyweight" challenge.

City of York Council leader James Alexander has lost nearly six stone and 28.4 per cent of his body weight since January 1 and the authority’s cabinet member for finance and performance, Coun Dafydd Williams has lost 15 per cent.

Their sponsored challenge in support of York Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) has so far raised £1000. They are hoping to raise £2500 by the end of the month.

This week they have visited the unit to find out about the work being done there to help babies born prematurely or who are unwell.

Coun James Alexander, who has lost weight through exercise and monitoring his diet, said: “This started as a bit of competitive fun in aid of a very worthwhile cause. My competitive streak has certainly been key to me losing well over a quarter of my body weight, and I’m pleased to say I feel far better for doing so.

“I’m looking forward to visiting the SCBU and seeing just how essential this service is to the people of York and North Yorkshire. There is still the opportunity for people to sponsor us at”.

Coun Dafydd Williams said he was keen to take the opportunity to compete with Coun. Alexander and raise money for the SCBU.

He said: “While percentage-wise I may not have matched Coun. Alexander so far in weight loss, I’ve still lost a good amount of weight and importantly from a lower starting point. However the battle is not over yet!

“Raising money for this excellent cause makes it easy to focus on losing weight and the benefits have been many, including having more energy. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit the SCBU and want to thank the staff there for the invaluable service they provide to so many families”.

Ann Elliott, from the SCBU, said: “Everyone involved with the Special Care Baby Unit really appreciates the fund raising that is done for them. The money raised helps with the purchase of new equipment and to update facilities for the families of the babies on the unit.

"We would like to wish James and Dafydd all the best in their weight loss challenge and to say thank you for raising money for the unit. We look forward to seeing them again at the end of the challenge”.