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Living in their car, claiming £342k benefits and 13st weight loss… the rollercoaster lives of ‘UK’s laziest family’

HER family was once cruelly branded the “fattest and laziest” in Britain, with trolls dubbing them ‘The Teletubbies’.

But this week, Samantha Chawner had the last laugh as she tied the knot with the love of her life, looking transformed following a stunning 10st weight loss.

Daily MirrorThe Chawner family were once considered Britain’s ‘fattest and laziest’ family. Left to right: Samantha, Philip, Audrey and Emma[/caption]

MirrorpixOn Saturday, Samantha Chawner tied the knot to Matthew Parkinson[/caption]

The 36-year-old first rose to fame on The X Factor in 2007 when her sister Emma was savaged by Simon Cowell during an audition, resulting in Samantha, dad Philip and mum Audrey storming the stage to confront him.

The sisters returned to the show two years later only to flop again, but the family became telly sensations on shows like Lorraine’s Big Fat Challenge as they attempted to shed their combined weight of 83st.

Public outrage followed when it was revealed the family had received £342,000 in benefits over 18 years – with Emma, now 34, claiming she was too fat to work. 

Dubbed ‘nightmare neighbours‘, the Chawners were then forced to live in their car after being kicked out of their home by police.

In an infamous 2015 appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show, tensions boiled over completely as the kids accused Audrey of walking out on them.

But after marrying her sweetheart Matthew Parkinson this weekend, Samantha revealed she had reconciled with her mum just weeks ago on her deathbed, before she died aged 73.

She told the Mirror: “She knew I was there and I felt like I had made my peace with her.”

Here, we chart the Chawner family’s rollercoaster fortunes since they first graced our screens.

Daughter Samantha (left) and Emma were humiliated after being mocked on The X Factor in 2009TalkBack Thames

Savaged by Cowell

Samantha and her little sister shot to fame after taking on Mariah Carey’s huge hit Hero during a 2009 X Factor audition. 

“I just think you should give us a chance to improve,” Samantha pleaded. 

“We’ve got weeks, not decades,” retorted Simon, before adding: “Girls this is it, never ever ever again, it’s a resounding no.”

Emma had already felt his wrath two years earlier as she belted out Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On in a solo audition.

Cutting her performance short, he said: “The dress is completely wrong and then you sang the song out of tune and a bit like a baby.”

Emma was told she sang ‘a bit like a baby’ during her 2007 X Factor auditionRex

BSkyBThe family appeared on Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge – which encouraged them to lose weight – in 2009[/caption]

Despite that, Emma was invited to perform in the 2007 X Factor finals – alongside others who failed to make it through the first round – and was carried on a large throne by topless hunks covered in baby oil.

In 2009, Emma and her family – who collectively weighed 83st – featured on a six-part ITV series called Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge.

Explaining the premise, the host said: “I am very concerned about the obesity levels in this country and I thought if the Chawners, who were labelled the fattest and laziest family in the UK, could be encouraged to change it would help others in the same boat.

The show ended with Emma shedding several pounds and getting a job in hospitality at Manchester United. 

‘Nightmare neighbours’

Channel 5The family appeared on The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door in 2016[/caption]

Further issues followed the family, when in 2012, they were evicted from their council house, in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, for breaching their tenancy agreement.

Neighbours lodged 134 complaints of nuisance behaviour against them – including the Chawners hosting all-night karaoke sessions, partying into the early hours, verbally abusing residents and having violent arguments. 

Police were called to evict the family, who were dubbed ‘neighbours from hell’ when they refused to hand back their keys. 

The Chawners were left homeless and reportedly were living in their car immediately after the eviction. 

But that didn’t stop their unruly behaviour. Four years later, in 2016, they appeared on the TV show The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door. 

By now, they had racked up more than 500 complaints from residents in Greater Manchester.

Abandoned by mum

ITVAudrey was alleged to have ‘abandoned’ her family[/caption]

ITVThe Chawners went on to The Jeremy Kyle Show to get answers but things got especially heated[/caption]

Despite their difficult times on reality TV, it seem the Chawner family weren’t deterred. 

In 2015, they appeared on Jeremy Kyle to confront mum Audrey, who had walked out on the family.

The family recalled happy scenes when they enjoyed a meal together the day before her departure.

They had left the property to give a relative a lift and two hours later noticed Audrey – who struggled to walk – had gone. 

Emma said: “Mum had posted her front door key through, it was on the mat. It was such a big shock. When we said ’bye to her, she was completely normal.”

It’s because of my genes in my family. Mum’s big, my dad’s big, my sister’s big. No-one’s thin in our house

Emma Chawner on her size

They claimed Audrey had taken her clothes and the iPad of husband Philip, 68, but left her wedding ring behind. 

Emma, who said police found her a couple of miles away, recalled: “[The police officer] spoke to her and she said she was fine and didn’t want to know us anymore.”

Despite the upset she had caused, Audrey refused to ask for forgiveness. Instead she said: “One thing I want back from you Emma is my Man United scarf back.”

Shockingly, Samantha even accused her mum of abuse on the show. She said: “I’ve been ill and you’ve been pinching and hitting me.

“She put me under a lot of pressure. I was at the doctors with tablets. It just made me feel sick, the way she’s treated me, my sister and my dad.”

The trauma of their mum’s departure had a damning effect on the daughters, with Emma claiming it contributed to them gaining an immense amount of weight through binge eating.

Weight loss

In 2019, Emma revealed she had lost 13 stone

InstagramEmma blamed her ‘genes’ on piling on the pounds in the past[/caption]

By 2019, however, Emma revealed she had managed to shed an impressive 13st – dropping from 28st to 15st 9lb. 

Speaking about the reasons she had gained so much weight, she told Lorraine in 2020: “It was the stress that I had with my mum and dad breaking up and losing my dog.” 

Emma also told Closer magazine that she had been diagnosed with diabetes as a result of her unhealthy lifestyle. 

She said: “It was a huge shock to hear that I was making myself ill.”

The dress is completely wrong and then you sang the song out of tune and a bit like a baby

Simon Cowell

Emma, who shed weight thanks to a 30-day detox and drinking plenty of fluid, attributed life stresses and her ‘genes’ as being the issue behind her weight in the past.

She said: “It’s not because of what I’ve eaten. It’s because of my genes in my family. Mum’s big, my dad’s big, my sister’s big. No one’s thin in our house.”

Despite having her own weight loss success, Emma expressed her concern about sister Samantha – who weighed 30st in 2019 – and encouraged the the family to “follow my lead”. 

“Especially my sister Sam,” she said. “I don’t understand how she hasn’t got diabetes already, she gets really breathless when she walks. I’m desperate for her to do as well as I have. If I can do it, anyone can.”

Off the radar

In recent years, the family have remained out of the public eye. 

Samantha is believed to be estranged from the family after leaving home and Emma works as a childminder and posts about her weight loss online.

In January, Emma revealed her mum Audrey had died at the age of 73 and launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money for her funeral. 

“RIP my beautiful amazing mum… I’m just letting you all know my mum passed peacefully in her sleep at 4am this morning,” she wrote on Instagram.

She also shared news that her dog Ruby had passed away and on Mother’s Day, earlier this month, shared her grief. 

Emma wrote: “This is one hard day for me.”

Mum had posted her front door key through, it was on the mat. It was such a big shock

Emma Chawner

On Saturday, Samantha tied the knot with long-term partner Matthew Parkinson in a lavish wedding in Manchester

Sadly, she was not joined by her little sister or her father.

In wedding snaps, Samantha looked radiant in an ivory gown, highlighting her incredible 10st weight loss.  

She posed next to her groom, who was dressed sharply in a blue three-piece suit complemented by a matching fedora.

Samantha’s wedding came two months on from the death of her mum Audrey in Januaryinstagram/@emma198902

Samantha, who had grown apart from her family after leaving home, revealed that her husband Matthew encouraged her to see Audrey in her final days.

“I was really shocked as she was so thin and she was blind, and not able to speak, but I told her I loved her and she touched my hand,” she told The Mirror. 

“She knew I was there and I felt like I had made my peace with her.”

Happy couple Samantha and Matthew, 39, first met in 2019 after meeting on a dating website. 

Heartbreakingly, they have suffered three miscarriages together.  

“It was heartbreaking to lose the babies but we are hopeful for the future,” said Samantha. 

“I’m also a stepmum to Matthew’s three children, who we see once a month, and we have our dog, one-year-old French bulldog Cleo.”

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