A nurse and opera singer has got her groove back and returned to the stage after shedding 51 pounds in just 10 months.

Mother of two Joan Thomas from Walthamstow dreamt of being a professional singer, but put it on hold to raise a family.

She instead became a nurse, only entertaining at small events.

She said: “I trained at theatre school but having a family changed things for me. Being a professional singer required travel, so I made the decision to put my singing career on hold until the children were older.

“I did many jobs over the years, including chamber maid and admin, eventually training as an registered surgical nurse in 2010.

“But the combination of long hours and night shifts saw me pile on the pounds. I was tired all the time and I had no energy for the gym.

“I gained a lot of weight - it was so much weight that I was struggling with my nurse’s uniform. I needed a bigger one. And every time I performed, I struggled with my confidence.

“On one occasion I was singing at a gentleman’s 100th birthday party, when I was approached by a small child who lifted my skirt and shouted ‘baby’, thinking I must be pregnant like her mother.

“I was mortified and terribly embarrassed.”

Shortly after this incident, Ms Thomas was contacted by a friend about auditions for the English National Opera at the London Coliseum for Porgy and Bess by Gershwin and Britain’s War Requiem.

Ms Thomas said: “With my daughters now at university, I decided to go for it and passed the chorus audition.

“I had to send in my measurements to the costume department - I felt embarrassed as I hit the send button.

“That was the moment I realised that I didn’t want to be the big lump on the stage.”

She said she was ready to get her health back and started at Weight Watchers.

“Thinking about going on stage helped me keep my focus.

“In total I lost 51 pound and when I went to my final costume fitting, the costume did not fit.

“It was clear to the fitters that things had changed since I sent my measurements the year before.

“I had lost so much weight, they had to dramatically alter my costume.

“It felt wonderful appearing on stage feeling confident and healthy. I was back and could wait to do it again.”

Ms Thomas has since been offered work in Amsterdam and a contract for an opera company in 2020.