THE leader of City of York Council has dropped six-and-a-half stones in six months as part of a weight loss challenge.

Since January 1, Cllr James Alexander has been in competition with finance chief, Cllr Dafydd Williams, to lose weight and to raise over £1,300 for York Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) .

Cllr Alexander won the challenge, losing a third of his bodyweight and ten inches from around both his waist and his chest.

Meanwhile Cllr Dafydd Williams, has lost two-and-a-half stones - 16 per cent of his body weight. He started the challenge weighing in at 15 stone and now weighs 12 stone 8 lbs.

Cllr Alexander, who said people don't recognise him and he's had to give his old clothes to charity, said: “Staff at York’s Special Care Baby Unit were there for my family when they were most needed and I want to thank everyone who has sponsored and supported Dafydd and I during the challenge.

"This started off as a bit of fun, but it has saved and changed my life. If I can become healthy, anybody can."

He began the challenge weighing almost 20 stone with a waist of 46 inches and a chest of 52 inches - coming in on the BMI index at 44 - morbidly obese and ended the challenge weighing 13 stone 5 lbs, a BMI of 29, with a 36 inch waist and 42 inch chest.

Cllr Williams, whose forfeit for not beating Cllr Alexander is to buy him a curry, said: “When I became the council’s cabinet member for finance I knew belts had to be tightened, but I didn’t realise it would be so literal."

Sister Ann Elliott of York's Special Care Baby Unit 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."

Donations can be made at or by texting the code FLAB97 followed by amount (e.g. £5) to 70070.