A Northern Ireland forecourt and convenience retailer has raised £12,000 for charity in a weight-loss fundraising effort that saw five men lose 15-and-a-half stone between them.

Brothers Pearce and Sean Kelly, who operate Eurospar, Spar and VivoXtra stores including two forecourts in the Mid Ulster area, enlisted three employees to join them in a sponsored slim, raising money for Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.

The idea came about during some light-hearted banter between the brothers. The men’s sibling rivalry was triggered when they discussed who would be able to lose the most weight before Easter.

Said Pearce: “The more we talked about it the more it seemed like a fantastic idea and we decided to do it to raise funds for NI Cancer Fund for Children – the nominated charity of Eurospar and VivoXtra stores across the province. We got three other employees on board – Declan Campbell, Stephen Mallon and Eugene Magill – and we all embarked on diet and exercise regimes.

“Once we had all signed up and told people about it there was no backing out and the competition got quite fierce.”

Pearce, who lost an impressive four stone, said the most difficult thing about the sponsored slim was cutting out sweet treats.

“I definitely missed cakes and biscuits at the start but I didn’t want to let the side down by giving in to them. I feel so much better now for having lost the weight. I don’t need to buy those Bridget Jones-style pants, although sometimes they can be very comfortable!

“I would also like to say how proud I am of all the staff who each took home sponsorship forms and helped us reach that grand total of £12,009.39,” added Pearce. “Some of our suppliers who did not donate money provided us with free stock which we wrote cheques for and donated to the charity.”