England-born Heather Mills is a former model and a campaigner on behalf of several causes, such as amputees, the curtailment of land mines and animal rights. An amputee, following a freak accident, she is the founder of the Heather Mills Health Trust for amputees, and was behind the shipping of 25,000 unwanted prostheses to the war-torn former Yugoslavia. Additionally, Heather has been a spokeswoman for Adopt-A-Minefield, a U.N campaign devoted to clearing the more than 60 million landmines left behind after wars in more than 70 countries. She also has joined PETA to campaign against the trade in dog. Heather received the inaugural UNESCO Children in Need Award for her activism against the use of landmines. The recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Open University, she was given a Human Security Award by The University of California, Irvine, in 2004, and they created the Heather Mills McCartney Fellowship in Human Security, to support graduate students conducting research on pressing human security issues.
“The word fan means fanatical. So when you go up to Paul, don’t say you’re a fan, say, ‘I’m a great admirer.’” Heather Mills
A Nobel Peace prize nominee, Heather, however, is probably best known for marrying Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles in 2002. The British tabloid claimed that she was a gold digger, and had a poor relationship with McCartney’s children. Though she later denied the rumors, the mother of Beatrice Milly McCartney, the couple’s only daughter together, could not hide her marriage’s problems from the media as they saw her throwing both the diamond and sapphire engagement rings from a hotel balcony in Florida, after a fight. In May, 2006, Heather and her husband announced their separation.
On January 21, 2007, the press publicized a settlement between Heather and Sir Paul, mentioning that her husband would pay 32 million pound in cash and property to her. A UK newspaper reported that Heather has converted from Anglican to Catholicism in order to find solace following her marriage failure.
Trouble from the Start
Childhood and Family:
In Aldershot, England, Heather Anne Mills was born on January 12, 1968. She had a turbulent youth. Her father, Mark Mills, an ex-paratrooper, was insulting towards Heather and her family. When she was nine, Heather’s mother, Beatrice Finlay, left home that forced the young Heather to care for her younger siblings, Fiona and Shane, whilst living with their father. Four years later, after her father was sent to jail for fraud, the teenage girl went on to live with her mother and her mom’s new boyfriend in London, with whom she did not get along. Stubborn Heather quickly ran away to live on the street. To earn a living, she tried several jobs, and later was arrested for stealing jewelry from the London store where she worked. As a result, she was put on probation.
On May 6, 1989, Heather married British man Alfie Karmal, a computer sales director who persuaded Heather to start modeling. The bond, however, ended in separation in 1991. She married former Beatle Paul McCartney on June 11, 2002 in an elaborate ceremony at Castle Leslie in the village of Glaslough in County Monaghan, Ireland. As a result of the marriage, she became the stepmother to Sir Paul’s children from his previous marriage, pottery designer Heather McCartney, photographer Mary McCartney, top fashion designer Stella McCartney, and sculptor and musician James McCartney. On October 28, 2003, Heather gave birth to the couple’s only child together, daughter Beatrice Milly McCartney.
Heather and her husband separated on May 17, 2006.
Heather Mills Health Trust
Running from a hellish family break up and with her father in prison, Heather Mills lived on the London streets as a teenager. When she was 18, she met British computer executive Alfie Karmal, who encouraged her to began a career in modeling. Heather soon moved beyond the catwalk and, in 1986, she arranged her own modeling agency, ExSell management. Two years later, 20-year-old Heather attracted attention when she participate in a photo shoot with a male model with whom she performed simulated sexual acts. The photos were published in a book entitled “Die Freuden der Liebe” (The Joys of Love). An American version was released that same year with the title “Sex Games.”
After splitting up from husband Karmal, Heather moved to Yugoslavia and found herself working as a ski instructress. When civil war ripped up the Balkans, she was motivated to help, and, upon returning to London, established a refugee crisis center and donated her modeling income to help relief efforts. She commuted between Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and the UK and worked with government agencies to form other refugee crisis centers as well as hospitals and housing for the homeless.
A tragedy struck in Heather’s life when she became the victim of a terrible accident during another visit to London on August 8, 1993. She was hit by a cop motorcycle while crossing the road near Kensington Palace. The bike severed her left leg below the knee that forced surgeons to amputate it. This condition, however, did not stop Heather to help others. Realizing that there were numerous discarded artificial limbs in Britain and other developed countries, she found a solution to the desperate need for artificial limbs in places like war-torn Croatia. She then founded the Heather Mills Health Trust, and shipped 25,000 recycled prostheses to the Balkans.
Heather’s personal life received much notice following her marriage to Sir Paul McCartney in 2002. The two met at a charity event in London in May 1999 and Sir Paul was so impressed with Heather’s work that he decided to donate to her organization. Thanks to the much-publicized relationship, Heather’s modeling career was even renewed as she was hired to be the face of women’s fashion brand INC International Concepts. A percentage of the company’s earnings were donated to Adopt-A-Minefield and the campaign guaranteed to raise awareness of the landmine crisis.
An activist for several causes, principally against the use of landmines, Heather and her husband went to eastern Canada to bring awareness to the country’s annual seal hunt in March 2006. She also campaigns against the trade in dog fur, and particularly the live skinning of dogs. She even took part in an anti-fur advertisement for a PETA campaign, which had the catch line: “If you wouldn’t wear your dog, please don’t wear fur.” A patron of Adopt-A-Minefield and a United Nations Association Goodwill Ambassador who has untiringly campaigned for over 11 years to raise funds and consciousness to rid the world of landmines, Heather has published an autobiography, “A Single Step,” and proceeds from her updated version will be donated to the cause.