TWO double-decker buses full of passengers add up to an awful lot of weight.
But that is the amount staff at Rotherham Institute for Obesity (RIO) has helped patients lose in the eight years since it opened.
About 7,000 RIO patients have collectively lost 33.7 tonnes since 2009.
But that total will not be added to - at least, not by NHS patients.
Centre director Dr Matt Capehorn closed the doors of the Doncaster Gate facility as a publicly-funded service for the final time on Wednesday after council bosses pulled the financial plug and NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group said it could not step in to help.
RIO patients and staff came together for a closing-down party and to share their success stories.
Dr Capehorn said: “It’s been a day of mixed emotions. It has been fantastic seeing all of our success stories and reminding ourselves about how great the service was but equally it’s a very sad day because we now can’t help others in the same way.”
RIO was forced to close after Rotherham Borough Council withdrew the £300,000 funding it needed to stay open for the next financial year. People will now only be able to access weight management services there if they pay.
The Advertiser called for RIO to be saved from closure as part of our Fighting Fit campaign but it proved in vain when the CCG said it could not keep the facility afloat. Instead the CCG and public health officials created a new pathway for obese patients.
Dr Capehorn said: “I remember banging on doors ten years ago saying there were no facilities whatsoever for obese patients.
“The Healthy Weight Framework was launched from that and we ended up with RIO, which has been the envy of the rest of the country.
“We now have nothing””
Among those at RIO on Wednesday was Carl Pashley, who lost an amazing 9st of his 31st weight thanks to the clinic’s support.
“I was only going one way and that was into a box without this place and now I do two sessions a week in the gym,” Mr Pashley (48), of Bramley.
Pensioner Helen Dalling (83), of Herringthorpe, said she had been left to continue her weight-loss journey on her own following RIO’s closure.
“This place is so inspiring,” she said. “I always felt that I had someone to answer when I went for my weigh-ins.”
Fellow patient Joanne Loftus has lost 8st 2lbs since having bariatric surgery in June last year.
“I would have never had the confidence to have surgery if it wasn’t for this place,” said Ms Loftus, of Sunnyside, .
“It is really sad that we, as a town, are losing RIO - it has changed my life.”
She added: “What about those people who are part way through their plan?”