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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Mills' triumph over tragedy
Heather Mills
Heather Mills will wed Sir Paul in 2002
Heather Mills became a household name after using her disability to bring attention to others she considered less fortunate than herself.

A former swimwear model, Mills lost her left leg below the knee in an accident with a police motorcycle in 1993.

Far from letting her disability get her down she took on a campaigning role raising millions for amputees.

But even before her accident she had a less than happy life.

Her mother left her when she was nine years old, and she ran away from home at 13 and wound up homeless in London.

Heather Mills
Heather was a charity worker before her accident
After being sacked from a shop job, she vowed never to work for anyone else again and set up her own businesses.

She then decided to enter the precarious world of modelling.

In 1990, at the age of 22 she went to work in northern Yugoslavia, now Slovenia, as a ski instructor.

Civil war broke out in the region while she was there and instead of retreating to the safety of home and forgetting the horrors she had witnessed she set up a refugee crisis centre in England.

She then spent the next few years travelling between Slovenia, Austria and the UK negotiating with the military and government agencies for better refugee care.

Courage

Mills maintained her modelling career to raise money for the cause.

But her horrific accident left her with a punctured lung, multiple fractures and an amputated leg.

Her entrepreneurial skills came into force again and instead of feeling sorry for herself, she invited the world's press into her hospital room to share her courageous tale.

Her loss gave her a new mission in life, to help those with similar disabilities who had no access to prosthetic limbs.

She launched a nationwide appeal for unwanted prostheses and then recruited inmates at Brixton prison to dismantle them for transporting abroad.

Campaign

Since the first shipment to Zagreb in 1994, over 22,000 amputees and victims of land-mine explosions helped.

Mills has found time in her schedule to write an autobiography, Out on a Limb, run a half-marathon and become a television presenter.

Her latest campaign, entitled Adopt-a-Minefield, highlights the landmine crisis on behalf of the United Nations.

As a result of her high-profile her love life also became a hot topic.

Wedding

She had a short-lived marriage to Alfie Karmal in 1989, and she was due to marry cameraman Chris Terrill in 1999, but the ceremony was called off with just two weeks to go.

She met Sir Paul at a charity event in 1999 and he played guitar and sang backing vocals on a charity single she recorded.

The pair originally denied their relationship but he officially declared his love for her in October 2000.

Since then there were many false rumours about the couple tying the knot.

After their official engagement they are now planning to wed next year.

See also:

26 Jul 01 | Showbiz
McCartney and Mills to marry
21 Oct 00 | Entertainment
'I love her, yeah', says Sir Paul
15 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Sir Paul's new love
20 Apr 01 | Showbiz
McCartney pushes for landmine ban
21 Mar 01 | Arts
Poetic McCartney takes a bow
20 Apr 01 | Showbiz
Sir Paul tops rich list
18 Apr 01 | Music
Sir Paul eats with the Animals
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
McCartney bares soul in US film
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