A WEEKE youngster has been chosen by a national healthy eating and exercise scheme to represent them after his success.

Nine-year-old Matthew Skeen of Fromond Road, Weeke, was one of five children invited to a special photo shoot in London to highlight the success of the MEND programme.

The free scheme is the UK's largest healthy lifestyle programme for overweight children aged between seven and 13 and was developed over five years by child obesity experts.

As reported in the Hampshire Chronicle in May, Matthew, who goes to Weeke Primary School, joined the programme at the River Park Leisure Centre in Gordon Road after his mother became concerned about his weight gain. Since then his weight has dropped from 45kg to 35kg.

His mother, Pamela Skeen, 40, said he has now been selected as a representative for the region and visited The Sun's headquarters in London last week for a photoshoot.

She said that since Matthew started MEND, his outlook on healthy eating and exercise has completely changed: "If he goes out, he knows what choices to make regarding food. Instead of going for the fast food option, he thinks about what he is eating.

"I have never known him to be so active. He used to stay in the house most of the time but now he is out all the time. I can't keep him in any more.

"It is a nightmare in the supermarket with him now, he is always looking at the labels and working out the healthiest foods.

"This is all down to the MEND programme."

MEND stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition and Do it, and consists of 18 sessions over 10 weeks. Participants take part in swimming, studio, nutrition and theory sessions.

There have been two programmes in the last year at River Park, with positive feedback on both occasions.

Nikki La Niece, children's activities co-ordinator at River Park, said: "I believe Matthew was chosen because he is a good case and the programme has really worked for him. It has completely changed his eating habits and he is always in the centre doing some kind of sport."

For more information on the course, call River Park Leisure Centre on 01962 848700.