For more information about the Simplyhealth Great East Run, visit: Greatrun.org/East

A former soldier who piled on the pounds when he returned home from service injured has managed to shed an incredible 11 stone and turn his life around.

Gary Edwards, from Ipswich, was a soldier in the Royal Corps of Signals when he was injured and medically discharged from the army.

He suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and his life began to spiral out of control, turning to alcohol and food for comfort. His weight increased to 25 stone and he described his life as ‘non existant'.

But four years ago, at an alcoholics anonymous meeting, he decided that his life had to change and he started his first run.

Now Gary has lost over 11 stone and has gone from 5XL to a size medium in clothes thanks to his training and altering his diet.

A proud member of Suffolk's Great Run Local at Needham Lake, he will take on the inaugural Simplyhealth Great East Run half marathon on Sunday 24 September.

Gary, 50, said: “There was no real secret to my weight loss, no special or fad diets, it was a case of eat less and move more.

“I took up running and did my first ever 5k which took me over 45 minutes but it was a start. I knew that every step took me closer to being the person I wanted to be.

“Without the support of my loving wife Wendy, I honestly think I would not be here today.

“After I was injured while serving, I was found to be suffering from PTSD and a short while later, was medically discharged.

“I was suffering both physically and emotionally and I turned to drink and food for solace. The weight piled on and before I knew it, I was 25 stone.

“The turning point for me was that I basically woke up one day and decided things must change. I thought to myself “I've had enough”. I attended an alcoholics anonymous meeting .

“From there I set on a mission to change my life. I eat a lot more healthy now but I don't obsess over my diet as I do like chocolate on a weekend!

“I now weigh 13 stone 7 pounds and have lost 163lbs so far.”

Gary will join 3,000 other runners for the inaugural Simplyhealth Great East Run, which features a scenic tour of Suffolk.

The event, which has now sold out, starts and finishes in Ipswich town centre and takes participants out into the picturesque countryside, passing under the iconic Orwell Bridge.

Event organisers have seen unprecedented demand for the places, with entries reaching capacity months before the half marathon takes place.

Gary added: “I took up running not long after I decided to quit drinking.

“I knew I had to do something to help shift the weight. I was not the fastest runner but I was determined.

“Some days the hardest thing is to get out of the door yet once I am out there running, I find that I am fine.

“If I am tired then I will do a short run, if not, then I will go on to complete a training target.

“My youngest daughter Cara asked me to go to the Great Run Local at Needham Lake and we ran together and both achieved a personal best which was a fantastic feeling.

“My life has completely changed and all for the better as I no longer revolve it around drinking and food.

“I go for walks with my wife Wendy and find that the quality time I spend outdoors has really helped in my recovery.”

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great East Run, visit: Greatrun.org/East