heather mills biog.
What a woman. What a story. For my part, if it was written in her passport: 'occupation: wonder woman', then the passport man would well be within his rights to just stamp the passport and wave her on her way.
She is class.
Heather Mills was born in Aldershot, Hampshire. Now I know what your saying: if she's from Hampshire how on earth did she get that soothing Geordie lilt? Well, she was only a few months old when the family moved to Washington in Tyne and Wear, then to Cockshott Farm in Rothbury - hence the accent.
Her father was John Mills, who changed his name to Mark to avoid confusion with the pocket-sized British cinema idol of the same name. He was a former British paratrooper and his wife, Beatrice Mary Finlay (Heather's mother), was the daughter of a colonel in the British Army - hence the Aldershot connection where there is to this day, I believe, a large army base.
Life was hard from the word go really. At 8, she was sexually assaulted by a swimming pool attendant and her father was violent towards her. Now her father disputes this but if Heather says that is what happened then that's good enough for me.
Things didn't get any better for Heather or her older brother Shane, and her younger sister, Fiona (who resembles Heather and would be consided lovely in her own right if she wasn't the sister - such are the hardships when you have such a lovely sister). When she was 9 her mother left home which placed the children in the care of their father. Obviously, he didn't take his responsibilities seriously and was jailed after being convicted of fraud. Heather had had enough and moved to London to live with her mother and her mother's new partner, actor Charles Stapley. But turmoil lay just around the corner. Ever open to new possibilities, she ran away from home and joined a funfair, but the grass isn't always greener on the other side and found herself living in a cardboard box under Waterloo Station for four months. That is a hard place to visit even for a day let alone for four months as even when it is warm there is always an unbearable wind coming in from the river and it just makes you feel depressed and cold.
Also, around this time, she was put on probation for having stolen from a jeweller's shop, where she worked after leaving school. Now there's stealing and there's stealing. The UK media now uses this episode in her life as a stick to beat her with but you have to put it into the context. With everything that had happened in poor Heather's life up to that point is it any wonder she had to resort to this. We just don't know the circumstances. She might have needed to steal to pay for food, we just don't know - it's just a shame the papers don't try and find the cause behind the effect. Finding the cause is great journalism; writing about the effect is just lazy.
By anybody's standards, Heather, through no fault of her own, had a tough time with her mother. Happily, Heather forgave her mother and they were reconciled in 1989. Unfortunately, her mother died during minor surgery shortly after.
Careerwise, Heather has had a varied one. In the late 1980s she had a few jobs but having an entrepenurial spirit she started her own modelling agency in 1986. Conventionally beautiful in her own right, she also became a top model. Hence she took part in a photoshoot for a German guide to love and lovemaking called Die Freuden der Liebe (The Joys of Love). Now any lovemaking between 2 consenting adults for a love education manual would involve one partner simulating a sexual act on the other. And vice versa. If you remember that then you will surely find nothing wrong in appearing in such a publication but once again the UK media took it out of context (yawn, yawn).
She also modelled for photographs where she had to remove her clothes.
Heather Mills thought she had found a safe harbour, the love on her life, when she met a sales manager of a catering company, Alfie Karmal. The happy couple married in May 1989. She even became step-mother to his two sons from a previous marriage. Sadly, the couple divorced in 1991.
With her life, emotionally speaking, in freefall, she took a job as a ski instructor in Croatia in 1992. Unfortuantely, it was just as the war there was breaking out. Selflessly, she set up a refugee crisis centre in London and succeeded in helping 20 people to escape. A kind of modern-day Oskar Schindler. Not only that but she also delivered donations to Croatia, driving there on her own, sometimes via Austria where she took modelling assignments to pay for the trip. Not a thought for her own safety - if only more of us could be like that.
The following year occurred something which would have torn 99% of us asunder. She was hit while crossing a road near London's Kensington Palace by a police motorcycle travelling to an emergency, suffering crushed ribs, a punctured lung, and the loss of her left leg below the knee. The gory details make you shudder just reading them let alone living through them: a metal plate had to be inserted into her pelvis at a later date. The £200,000 damages she was awarded against the police could in no way make up for what had happened (how could it?). But such is the woman that even out of extreme adversity she found the positive. She embraced her prosthetic leg, taking it off in public from time to time to show people she was happy with it, that it was part of her life. Heather most famously took it off during an interview in 2002 with American talk show host and living legend Larry King. Larry has become a good friend of Heather's.
But her positivity didn't end there. Indeed that was just the start as she ripped triumph from the jaws of adversity by selling her story to a well-known Sunday newspaper and giving other interviews which earned her £180,000. This was a means to an end as she used the money to set up the Heather Mills Health Trust and that delivered (and continues to deliver) prosthetic limbs to people, particularly children, who had undergone amputation after stepping on landmines. I guess it was from this date in the early 1990s that her passion for the plight of those affected by landmines came about.
The course of her life was now set: she had the idea of collecting discarded limbs from patients in the developed world for the use of amputees in poorer countries where prostheses were less available to most people. She publically appealed for unwanted limbs and was with a convoy that took the limbs to Zagreb in 1994. This is astonishing when you remember that it was only 14 months after her own accident. The best-selling book she wrote, Out on a Limb, came out of that experience.
Private life-wise, she thought she had found happiness again in 1999. She became engaged to documentary film-maker Chris Terrill. A wedding date was set but it was not to be. Five days before the wedding it was called off. Hurtful things were said by both parties in the aftermath but that was understandable with the tensions that come when a relationship breaks down.
Love though was just around the corner for Heather. She met rock God and all-round good guy Sir Paul McCartney that same year. They met at the Pride of Britain charity event, where she was presenting an award for courage and appealing on behalf of the her trust. McCartney, suitably impressed by her remarkable bravery, offered instantly to give £150,000 to her trust.
From there love grew. Though he was 25 years her senior they seemed the perfect couple. On July 22, 2001, he proposed and, they were married on 11 June 2002 at the romantic-looking Castle Leslie, Ireland. Two years later, Heather Mills (now Lady McCartney) gave birth to her and Paul's daughter, Beatrice Milly McCartney. The 'Beatrice' came from Heather's mother's name, proving that she had forgiven her mother; 'Milly' from McCartney's aunt's name.
You would think that fate would have been kind to Heather, and that now approaching 40 she had finally found a permanent respite from the tumultuous events that had blighted her life up to that point. Unfortunately it was not to be. In 2006 the perfect couple shocked the world by announcing their separation. The acrimonious divorce battle that came after was like a World War being played out before our eyes. I for one as an innocent bystander felt like those who had lived through the Blitz must of felt, with the couple dropping accusation bombs against each other through the British press. The tabloids lapped up Heather's suffering and very on sided with the rock knight.
Interminably, the divorce battle dragged on. Finally in March 2008, Heather was awarded £24.3 million, plus payments of £35,000 per annum, and nanny and school costs for their beloved daughter. As usual, the first thing on Heather's mind at the conclusion of the divorce settlement was her charity work, and she stated that she would use the money for the aforementioned work. The judge was pretty harsh in his summing up of Heather and many of us felt he was bang out of order.
Heather Mills continues to be a great advocate of animal welfare. She is patron of a plethora of animal rights charities. Furthermore, not wishing to harm a single animal she is a passionate vegetarian.
Thankfully, the US media love her and treat her almost as an uncrowned queen. This must have been a source of comfort to Heather when the British press is so inexorably against her. Thus her performance on the celebrity U.S. television series Dancing with the Stars in 2007 brought her great acclaim over there. She wastn eliminated from the show until near the end, and even the British press grudginly applauded her bravery and panache. The US praisewas more fulsome and if I heard that to a man, woman and child the whole of the US stopped to applaud her final dance then I wouldn't be surprised. In character, she donated a huge amount of her appearance fee to the charity Viva!.
She continues to live in the UK despite the hurtful things the British press say about her. Indeed, the criticism in the press is so vitriolic that it has been compared to the criticism of the evil Myra Hindley. Totally over the top and unfair, in my book.
There has been confusing incidents in her life which I don't know the ins-and-outs of. She was confused with a journalist of the same name and there was confusion over a peerage offered to her or not as the case may be. The hurtful things said about her in the press have not been helped by the former men in her life who seem to have nothing nice to say about her. It is worth pointing out here that these men may have been paid for their comments by the papers who quote them though I couldn't say for sure. There were also accusations in the tabloids that Heather was a prostitute when she was young though Heather herself has always denied this. Of course she has been hurt by these accusations but bravely she has soldiered on and unlike many has not turned her back on her country or her charities.
It is time for all of us to cut her some slack. She is a remarkable woman with many qualities to be admired.
Heather Mills, we salute you.
© ~ Paul Page, Lenin
Her ever loyal sister, Fiona, runs her official website
No official fan club as yet
She began the interview with Fiona Phillips and Andrew Castle by protesting about "lies" written about her in the media, including one that her estranged husband Sir Paul McCartney had not been aware of her past as a glamour model.
She said: "I am going to basically, just like I changed the law with some like-minded people, anyone that wants to help go to UK.com and you'll see how you can help and sign the petition.
"I need to get everybody to petition that they don't want to be lied to any more by the press. They want their children to grow up in a society where press is just and fair and the size of the lie they print is the size of the apology they have to print.
"And they have to reveal their made-up sources and their so-called friends unless it's a criminal situation, because they make up such lies. They've called me a whore, a golddigger, a fantasist, a liar, the most unbelievably hurtful things, and I've stayed quiet for my daughter.
"But my daughter... we've had death threats, I've been close to suicide. I'm so upset about this... I've had worse press than a paedophile or a murderer and I've done nothing but charity for 20 years.
"I came on here talking about vegetarianism 15 years ago. I sat here and Dr Hilary Jones (GMTV's health and medical adviser) said 'She's crazy, she's talking about wheatgrass and giving up meat and dairy'. And then they want to write that I just suddenly make up vegetarianism to please Paul. You've got footage. Find it, show it.
"It's just everyone has jumped on the bandwagon.
"My sister was crying her eyes out because that awful Jordan and Peter Andre did a joke on Sunday and I've had six amputee girls crying their eyes out because they're getting bullied at school because people are joking about the loss of my limb.
"Jonathan Ross said 'She's such an effing liar, we're going to find out she's got two legs instead of one'.
"I have protected my husband. I know everything and I know the truth. I even got an apology from, because the judge pushed for it, when they said that my petition was a lie. And the size of the apology? 'We're sorry. We now accept that the judge did not throw out any of her claims. She was not portrayed as a liar in court and did not erupt with rage'."
Question: "Listen, there will be people at home saying that at the beginning, Heather, you did use the press..."
She answered: "I haven't used the press for anything except my charity. When did I promote a record? When did I act for anything? They always say 'publicity-seeker'. Look at me going to court. My pelvis is bust. You've seen the X-ray, right, which I had to produce because they put in here, 'Heather pulls her leg off', and, you know, talks about her pelvis.
"My pelvis has been broken for a while but I have months when I can walk and months when I can't. It pops out but I can't spend four months on my back in another operation while I'm going through this. This picture (points to her clippings folder) on this front page was taken when the paparazzi pulled the car door open and then they say, Heather tries to pull off a disability thing, when I'm in a blacked-out car hiding under a blanket because I knew I had to go into court and I knew they would turn around and say that she's trying to get publicity.
"It's fine that Paul can walk in going "Are you all right', and I'm hiding and I am the one that is abused daily. I have protected Paul for this long and I am trying to protect him but I am being pushed to the edge and I don't want my daughter when she is 12 going on the internet reading this totally one-sided story.
"I'm up to here with it. My plan is to change the law in the European Parliament and I will do it. And I'm fed-up with the specific portion of the media. Some of them are still supportive but a specific portion are abusing me. I will investigate each and every one of those journalists.
"Everyone jumps on the bandwagon, makes money out of my misery."
GMTV: "I know that, and I know you're upset and I know you're only human, which is what people are forgetting. But during the coverage of the divorce case they have been saying that you want £50 million...
She replies: "I have been offered nothing, OK, nothing. We go to court, nothing to do with that. We go to court over my daughter. I'm not allowed to talk about it because it's a criminal act if I talk about my daughter. You have no idea what's going on. These figures are made up... £100 million, £50 million, £20 million. How do you know if I even want any money? I'm £1.5 million in debt in lawyers' fees, and that's as much as I can say or I go to jail, for telling the truth.
"So I'm gagged at the moment because I'm not allowed to say a word while the media are fed this spin by a certain corner."
GMTV: "One of the clauses, apparently, in this whole divorce thing, is that you want to be able to sell your story...
She replied: "It's rubbish. I can sell my story right now. I'm trying to protect Paul and our daughter. I am trying, and I'm being pushed to the edge.
"Eighteen months of abuse, 4,400 abusive articles.
"Look what they're doing to the McCanns. The woman has lost, and the poor father, have lost their daughter. What are we doing as a nation?
"What are we doing persecuting a woman that is devastated behind closed doors and trying to hold it together, as I have for 18 months.
"What did the paparazzi do to Diana? They chased her and they killed her.
"Never mind all these other stories, that is what we are doing as a nation, buying these newspapers. Every time you buy one of those, you contribute to it. So force a change for responsible journalism."
"Rupert Murdoch, when he bought that newspaper, is quoted as saying 'I can't believe how easy it was to get in the British media. I can't believe it and I promise you I will always give you honest and straightforward journalism'. Nothing like it.
"And they will go for me tomorrow and they'll go she's crazy and she's this and she's that... Go for it, because I will do even more.
"Sorry I got upset. I'm so up to here. Can you imagine being persecuted for that long."
"One of the guys, who I had convicted for assault - which they thought I wouldn't follow through to the end - had 132 convictions.
"132 convictions and he's hired with no licence. They have to be licensed, because how do I know when someone's sitting outside my house if they're a stalker or not?
"It is living in a prison."
"The only respite I got was going to America, and I did Dancing With The Stars because our charity was so damaged that we needed the money.
"I was the only person on the show that gave the money to charity, and then they wanted to turn that into something awful - 'Get lost Mucca', says the Sun.
"I've got 4,000 cuttings, like "Mucca cha cha".
"How do they mean 'Mucca' for doing glamour modelling, and they say it's hardcore porn!
"I would live in America in two seconds but I live here to keep my daughter close to her father.
"I compromise everything - you have no idea how much I have done to compromise.
"I have a box of evidence that's going to a certain person should anything happen to me, so if you top me off, it's still going to that person, and the truth will come out.
"There is so much fear from a certain party of the truth coming out that lots of things have been put out and done, so the police came round and said 'you have had serious death threats from an underground movement'.
"I was like 'Are you serious?', and they said 'Here's the 999 number', but I never rang the 999 number, I always rang the 0845 number.
"The press write I'm crying wolf for 999 calls, when the police came to me to tell me I had death threats and I had to be careful.
"That means my daughter's life is at risk, because she's with me all the time. "Could I get security? No.
"Did I have to go to the bank and borrow it? Yes.
"It's disgusting, it's absolutely disgusting. Who created those death threats? The media.
"A certain part of the tabloid media created such a hate campaign against me, it put my life and my daughter's life at risk.
"That's why I considered killing myself, because I thought if I was dead, at least my daughter would be safe.
"And that is the truth, and I've got nothing to lose.
"I've got 300 friends who came to my daughter's party, and they are biting their tongues not to talk, because they're so loyal.
"Even a journalist said to my publicist 'Her friends are so loyal, we can't even get them to say a word.
"Whereas other people's so-called friends are putting stuff out right, left and centre.
"I just hope everybody goes on UK.com and starts taking responsibility for what we're going to feed our children for the next 20 years.
"We don't want them to live in a celebrity culture unless that celebrity is going to be used in life to make a difference in the finite amount of seconds we have left on the planet."
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