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Bull Elephant Upali at Dublin Zoo. Dublin Zoo today welcomed bull elephant Upali to the herd. Upali is a 17-year-old Asian elephant and measures 3 meters tall and over 6,000kgs, equal to the weight of 10 Friesian cows. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod this week

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Bull Elephant Upali at Dublin Zoo. Dublin Zoo today welcomed bull elephant Upali to the herd. Upali is a 17-year-old Asian elephant and measures 3 meters tall and over 6,000kgs, equal to the weight of 10 Friesian cows. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Big Time Loser

BILLY Broom, well known in Limavady as a taxi driver and part time gardener, has shaped up and shed an astonishing 119 pounds in a mere nine months by following an extensive exercise plan at the Roe Valley Leisure Center in Limavady.

At 45 years of age, Broom would put many younger people to shame with the many hours he puts in at the gym (on average three-four days a week) and the miles he covers on the treadmill or stepper. 

Despite his commitment to keeping physically active Broom constantly struggled with his weight, masking his fitness levels and proving true the adage that appearances can be deceiving.
A few months back, his weight once again started to rapidly rise and at 350 pounds, he knew more decisive action and attitude was needed if he was to get the pounds off.

"For years I struggled with my weight, especially since I got married. I would go through periods where it would come down a few stone, only to climb back up again as quickly as it came off. Despite exercising several times a week, I was eating large amounts of food and taking a few too many beers,” he said.

Broom took the decision to change his life for good nine months ago.

"I made a conscious effort to really pay attention to what I was eating -- my weekly trips to Slimming World helped here and really educated me on what to and what not to eat without ever getting hungry. I also made real efforts to reduce my beer intake. This, coupled with a more strenuous exercise regime has really paid dividends."

Broom said that losing such a huge amount of weight has really changed his life for the better. "My energy levels have improved significantly, I am sleeping much better and I can do better work outs at the gym now," he said.

As a reward for his immense work and achievement, Billy received three months complimentary membership to the gym, which he views as an "added bonus" for what he has accomplished.

Limavady Chronicle

Reunited Siblings

A SECOND World War veteran has been reunited with his beloved long-lost sister after more than 60 years apart, thanks to a letter in a Yorkshire newspaper.

Eddie Navan, 88, who has been living in Strabane for most of his adult life, lost touch with his family when he joined the army in 1942.  In April of this year the war veteran, who served in Germany, appealed for information on the Navan family in the Holbeck area of Leeds, where he grew up, through the pages of the Yorkshire Evening News.

In a simple twist of fate, Eddie's younger sister, Mary Booth, 70, who reads the newspaper daily, recognized his letter and responded to her brother immediately. The pair then put the wheels in motion for an emotional reunion, and great-grandfather of two Eddie flew over to his home town of Leeds earlier this month to meet Mary.

"Mary was only nine years old the last time I saw her. I am the oldest of the family and she is the youngest. I became separated from my family after I joined the army in 1942,” Eddie said.

“After some brief correspondence I didn't hear from my parents again and I just assumed that they had passed away. I met my wife Rose when she came over from Ireland to work in a factory in 1941 between Manchester and Warrington.

“Eventually, we moved and settled in Ireland with my stepdaughter. I have lived in Strabane since 1966 and I call myself an adopted son of Strabane, as everyone has been so lovely and kind to me.

“I have often wondered about my family over the years so I wrote a letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post asking could any of the readers help me to find my family. I wasn't sure if I had any family left, but there was nothing to lose.

“It was just by luck that Mary happened to buy the paper everyday and came across my letter. She immediately recognized my name and she told me she got the shock of her life seeing it. Soon after I arranged to travel over to meet Mary. It was very emotional, but it was a fantastic feeling meeting after all these years."

The pair are the last surviving members of six children. Eddie now plans to return for a lengthy visit to Mary and her family this summer, where he also hopes to spend time revisiting his brothers' graves at Killingbeck Cemetery.

“When I was younger my parents would have talked a lot about the power of the press and I could never understand what they meant -- until now that is.  I can't wait to go back over and spend more time with Mary and her family. Now that I have found them I am not going to let them go," he added.

Strabane Weekly News

Porn Stasher Nabbed

A MAN who had one of the largest collections of child pornography ever found by the Gardai (police) will be sentenced after he undergoes psychiatric evaluation.

The 133,553 images and 1,992 videos found on James Clarke’s computer included images showing severe child sex abuse involving bondage, cruelty and bestiality. The child porn was organized into computer folders by themes and individuals, and Clarke was using an Internet site to offer the images to others.

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