Heather Mills is a British former model, media personality, businesswoman, and activist. She is famous as the second wife of ‘The Beatles’ singer Paul McCartney. She had a difficult childhood after her parents separated and was ill-treated by her father who was later jailed. She then began living with her mother and her partner and took up odd jobs to make a living. She mastered the art of stealing and lying. She was married to Alfie Karmal when she visited Croatia after two ectopic pregnancies. When the war broke out in Croatia, she returned to London to set up a refugee center that delivered donations to the war-torn country. She later divorced Karmal. She was soon engaged to Raffaele Mincione. Tragedy struck when she was hit by a police motorcycle. As a result of the accident, she lost her left leg six inches below the knee. The money she received as compensation was used to set up the ‘Heather Mills Health Trust’ that aimed to deliver prosthetic limbs to the needy. She turned into an activist to remove landmines and to help people who required prosthetic limbs. She met Paul McCartney at the ‘Pride of Britain Awards’ and later got married to him. Their relationship soured due to McCartney’s daughter from his first marriage, Stella. The marriage ended in a divorce. This brought her a lot of adverse publicity, but she stood her ground against all odds.
Childhood & Early Life
She was born on January 12, 1968, in Aldershot, Hampshire, UK, to John Francis Mills and Beatrice Mary Mills. Her father was a former paratrooper, and her mother was the daughter of a British colonel. She has an elder brother named Shane and a younger sister named Fiona.
She was raised amidst a military environment. Her father was an avid sportsman. Both her parents played musical instruments and spent quality time on family holidays. They had to move often due to the nature of her father’s work.
Heather studied at ‘Usworth Grange Primary School’ and later attended ‘Usworth Comprehensive School’ in Washington. She recalls being kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a swimming pool attendant when she was 6 years old.
Things changed for the family when her mother left her father. She was 9 years old then. The children were left with their father who had no time for them. They were ill-treated and were often short of money, due to which they had to resort to shoplifting. Her father was jailed for fraud when she was a teenager. Following this, she and her sister moved to live with their mother and her partner, actor Charles Stapley, while her brother went to live with their paternal grandparents. She once wandered away from her mother’s house to join a funfair in order to get away from the miseries of life. She attended ‘Usworth Comprehensive School’ in Tyne and Wear back then and ‘Hydeburn Comprehensive’ later.
Her father started living with a partner after he completed his jail sentence and had another daughter, Claire Mills. Heather did not do well in school and started working at a croissant shop. She was fired from her job soon. She later worked at a jewelry shop, where she was accused of stealing and was put on probation.
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She met Alfie Karmal in 1986. He was 10 years older than her. He cared for her and set up a modeling agency for her called ‘ExSell Management.’ She moved to Paris on the pretext of a modeling contract and became the mistress of a Lebanese businessman named George Kazan. She was featured in a photo shoot for a German sex-education manual titled ‘Die Freuden der Liebe.’
She returned to London and got married to Karmal in May 1989. She had two ectopic pregnancies, after which she visited Croatia with his children and his ex-wife. There, she had an affair with her ski instructor, Miloš Pogačar. When the war broke out in Croatia, she set up a refugee center in London and delivered donations in Croatia.
She divorced Karmal in 1991 and later got engaged to Raffaele Mincione who worked with the ‘Industrial Bank of Japan.’ In 1993, she was hit by a police motorcycle that was responding to an emergency call. As a result, she suffered crushed ribs and a punctured lung, apart from losing her left leg six inches below the knee.
She was awarded £ 200,000 as compensation for her injury and earned another £ 180,000 from interviews with the media. She used the money to set up the ‘Heather Mills Health Trust’ that is geared toward delivering prosthetic limbs to the needy.
She herself had to have a prosthetic leg attached that had to be changed several times as her leg healed. This made her realize that there were thousands of prosthetic limbs that had been discarded by other patients and were available. She used these discarded limbs to rehabilitate citizens of Croatia who had lost their limbs to landmines.
She published a book titled ‘Out on a Limb’ with the help of a ghostwriter in 1995. It was republished in the US as ‘A Single Step’ in 2002. The proceeds from the book were used to help clear minefields in Croatia. She continued to work for the limbless and was made the vice president of the ‘Limbless Association.’ She also received several awards for her work in the same domain.
She had brief relationships with British media executive Marcus Stapleton and documentary filmmaker Chris Terrill between 1995 and 1999, before she met Paul McCartney at the ‘Pride of Britain Awards’ ceremony in 1999. He wrote songs and raised money for her charity projects and finally got married to her in June 2002, after his first wife died of cancer.
Her relationship with McCartney started souring in 2006, due to differences with his daughter from his previous marriage, Stella. Things got worse, and the couple finally divorced in May 2008. She received a settlement amount worth almost $ 50,000,000 and an annual maintenance of £ 35,000 for the upkeep of their daughter.
She received a lot of adverse publicity after her divorce and was accused of marrying McCartney only for his money. A survey showed her as one of the top five most-hated celebrities during this period. However, she stood her ground and emerged as a strong woman who could face the world on her own.
Awards & Achievements
In 1996, she was awarded the ‘Gold Award for Outstanding Achievement’ and the ‘Human Achievement Award.’
She was awarded the ‘Croatian Humanitarian Award’ in 2001 and the ‘UNESCO Children in Need Award’ in 2004.
She was named an ‘Open University Sesame Honorary Graduate’ in 2003 and an ‘Open University Doctorate’ in 2004.
She received the ‘PETA Humanitarian Award’ in 2005 and the ‘Animal Activist of the Year Award’ in 2008.
Mills won the ‘Vegan Society Achievement Award’ in 2007 and the ‘VegNews Person of the Year’ in 2009.
In 2005, she was nominated as the patron of the British animal rights organization ‘Viva!’ and the ‘Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation,’ both run by Juliet Gellatley.
She competed on the TV shows ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with Jonathan Roberts in 2007 and ‘Dancing on Ice’ with Matt Evers in 2009.
In 2009, she opened a vegan restaurant named ‘VBites’ and bought the vegan food company ‘VBites Foods.’