Heather Mills - Biography
She's the former model and anti-landmine campaigner who survived a horrific accident and captured the heart of a Beatle. There's no denying the life of Heather Mills has been anything but ordinary.
Born on January 12, 1968, in Tyne and Wear, Heather Mills grew up in a difficult environment. The relationship between her father Mark, a former paratrooper, and his wife Beatrice was characterised by violence. Before Heather had turned ten her mother became involved with an actor and moved out of the family home, leaving the children with their father. Three years later, with her father imprisoned for fraud, Heather was back home with her mother.
A headstrong teenager she didn't get along with her mum's boyfriend, however, and by the age of 17 was living on the streets. An arrest followed in the mid-Eighties after she stole jewellery, and she was put on probation.
A year later she met and later married British computer executive Alfie Karmal, who encouraged the 18-year-old's modelling aspirations. She went on to establish her own small agency, ExSell Management, which she sold in 1989. After two years her marriage to Alfie foundered when she left him for a Slovenian ski instructor. And she was working in the Balkans when war broke out there. Profoundly affected by the atrocities of the conflict, Heather established a refugee crisis centre in Yugoslavia.
Back in London to raise further funds for the project, Heather found her life changed forever when, in August 1993, she was hit by a speeding police motorcycle as she stepped off a curb. The accident cost her the lower half of her left leg.
Suddenly, as an amputee, she found herself in a similar situation to the war refugees on whose behalf she had so tirelessly campaigned. Despite her own private distress, she continued to work with the disabled, organising a programme to send discarded prosthetic limbs abroad.
Heather was presenting at a charitable awards ceremony at London's Dorchester in May 1999 when she met the man who would change her life - former Beatle Paul McCartney. Clearly affected by the blonde activist's presentation the musician later got in touch.
Their shared passion for charity work led to romance - much to Heather's surprise. "I thought he was very cute but it didn't enter my head that he fancied me," she said later. The couple became engaged during a visit to the Lake District and tied the knot in front of 300 guests at a church in the grounds of Ireland's 17th-century Castle Leslie on June 11, 2002. A daughter, Beatrice Milly McCartney, was born the following year on October 28, 2003.
The relationship came under pressure, however, as Heather endured repeated criticism from the press. Paul found himself having to defend his wife against accusations she had married him for his money. In May 2006, after four years, the couple announced they were separating. A joint statement said they had "found it increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship with constant intrusion into our private lives".