Heather Mills, the former wife of Paul McCartney, is a very controversial celebrity, who used to be known as “the one-legged model.” She is an English charity campaigner and former glamour model, and is currently in training as a Paralympic skier. She famously has an artificial leg, due to having lost her real one in an accident. She is very high-profile, but not universally popular (certainly not here in her native country, anyway).
Mills first came to the public's attention in 1993, when a collision with a police motorcycle in London resulted in the amputation of her left leg below the knee. She continued to model using a prosthetic limb and sold her story to a tabloid newspaper, using the proceeds to establish the Heather Mills Health Trust, which recycles used prosthetic limbs to amputees and campaigns against landmines. In a strange twist of fate, she was already involved in campaigning against landmines, and for amputees, before she became an amputee herself. (She had moved to Yugoslavia in 1990 to take a break from modelling. While there she was horrified by the injuries caused by the civil war raging around her. She turned back to modeling to raise money for war refugees and against landmines.)
As her prosthetic leg had to be replaced on a regular basis (because the size of the amputated stump kept changing as it healed), she had the idea to collect thousands of discarded prosthetic limbs for amputees in Croatia. Mills persuaded the Brixton prison governor to get inmates to dismantle and pack the prosthetic limbs before being transported, which resulted in 22,000 amputees obtaining limbs. She received an award in 2001 from Croatia's Prime Minister for the money she raised to help clear that country of landmines. Mills wrote a book about her amputee experience titled Out on a Limb (1995), which was republished in America as A Single Step (20002). She handed all the proceeds from the book to Adopt-A-Minefield, and stated that it was one of "the few charities that 100% of their donations goes to clear minefields and survivor assistance".
After her marriage to Paul McCartney, Mills became involved in animal rights advocacy and as of 2012 is a patron of Viva! (Vegetarians' International Voice for Animals) and the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation. On 4 July 2009, she opened a vegan restaurant called VBites at Hove Lagoon, Hove, Sussex, which she is reported to have purchased for £140,000. Mills is quoted as saying that she intends it to be the first in a worldwide chain of vegan restaurants.
In 2003, the Open University awarded her an honorary doctorate for her philanthropic work on behalf of amputees. In 2004, she received a "Children in Need" award from the annual International Charity Gala in Düsseldorf and in the same year, the University of California, Irvine, gave her their 2004 Human Security Award and created the Heather Mills McCartney Fellowship in Human Security to support graduate students conducting research on urgent human security issues. She is a former Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Association Adopt-A-Minefield programme. She is also vice-president of the Limbless Association.
On 17 December 2010, it was announced that Mills has been offered a trial in the British disabled ski team's development squad for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia and in April 2011 she bought a ski chalet near Goldeck am Millstätter See, in the Austrian Alps as a base for her Winter Paralympic Games training, which she is currently occupied with.
This high-profile and multi-talented woman certainly has an extremely controversial image, and a troubled relationship with the press. She is not generally popular with the public, due to certain stand-offs with the media and rumours about her. She has admitted to having been a compulsive liar, and claims it is because she was forced to lie as a child by her father, and that her childhood was a very unhappy and troubled one. She has also accused of being a shoplifter (which she admits she used to do, out of sheer hardship), a prostitute and a gold-digger (i.e. only marrying Paul McCartney for money and publicity.)
I think her bad reputation is largely undeserved when you consider that she has done far more good than harm. Whilst it is obvious she has had her troubles, she has done a great amount of humanitarian work, both for disabled people and for animal rights, and is very positive and inspirational in her attitude to her own disability.
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Picture courtesy of www.helloonline.com