A long-term smoker turned up to an Aberdeen social group to lose five stone – and is now teaching the class.

Six years on, inspirational Dougie Henderson is about to lead his 10th session after encouraging more than 250 people to follow in his footsteps, with the support of Aberdeen FC’s Community Trust.

The 47-year-old, of Mastrick, said he cannot wait for 2020 to get started.

He added: “Next year I’m going to be an ambassador at the Euro 2020 football championships and will be a volunteer at three games.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity made possible by my involvement with the trust.

“I’ll be proud to be an ambassador for Aberdeen FC and the Trust next year.”

Dougie got in touch with the trust in 2013 to get help kicking his 30-year smoking habit.

He took part in the Football Fans In Training (FFIT) programme and went from doing no exercise to six hours a week.

Trust officials were so impressed with Dougie they asked him to teach others. He now volunteers with the trust to help others turn their lives around through FFIT.

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The programme is for people aged 35-65 who want to lose weight and has helped 375 people since it started in 2011. Currently 50 people a week benefit.

Dougie said: “The programme was developed to support men initially because it’s less common for guys to go to a slimming club.

“The football club is the hook – and the fact that we do the training and sessions at Pittodrie is a big draw to fans.

“I wanted to volunteer for the programme because I wanted to give something back after it helped me turned my life around.

“I think that it helps that I’ve been through it as participants see me and think ‘well, if he can do it, so can I’.”

The trust’s operations manager Steven Sweeney said: “We’d like to thank each of our volunteers, like Dougie, who go above and beyond to deliver our programmes to those who need it most and of course to each of our participants for making 2019 the best year for the trust so far.”

This content was originally published here.

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