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2001-Nov-21: Heather Speaks

The London newspaper, the Independent recently asked their readers to pose some questions to Heather Mills.  Here are her responses (including information on how to acquire a free Adopt-A-Minefield video featuring Sir Paul and Heather):

Is fame attractive?

 "No. It helps with charity work but nothing else. Seek success, as this changes your life for the better, but never ever fame in the long term."
What was her input in the creation of Sir Paul's Freedom single?
"Witnessing the twin towers disaster from an aeroplane at JFK airport, I knew immediately it was terrorism. The next day, after being glued to the TV for 24 hours, I suggested a concert would be a good idea. Paul jumped at the idea. Then I thought a track called Freedom specially for the concert, as President Bush and New York mayor Rudi Giuliani talked of freedom, would be a good idea too, so Paul wrote it and I helped arrange it. Voilą."
Is the bombing of Afghanistan a necessary evil?
"The situation in Afghanistan, and the question of terrorism in general, is far too complex for me to analyse and give my full opinion on in a little paragraph or two. What I can say is that, whatever the rights and wrongs of a particular conflict, I strongly feel that innocent civilians should never be the victims."
How does Heather remain positive?
"My mother lost her leg at the same age as me and went on to become a psychologist at the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital, which helped hundreds of people. If I hadn't lost my leg, I would never have had the public attention to help raise awareness about the disabled. This is enough to keep anyone positive."
Will she still send Sir Paul a valentine when he's 64?
 " I'll send Paul a valentine when he's 104 as he'll still be edible."
What is Adopt- A-Minefield?
"Paul and I have adopted a minefield in Croatia for pounds 25,000 through Adopt- A-Minefield, a charity that raises funds to clear landmines and help people who have been injured by mines. I have spent many years fitting more than 27,000 war victims (or survivors as I like to call them) with artificial limbs. Yet every time I fit one, another five would suffer landmine injuries. This is when I became more involved than I already was by joining Adopt- A-Minefield and bringing it to the UK. You can help by checking out our website, www.landmines.org.uk."
Based on her experience of pulling herself out of poverty, what advice does she have for poor students?
"Don't be snobby about what work you'll do. Getting on the first rung of the ladder is of the utmost importance. Many great people were once road sweepers and binmen."
If she had it to do over again, would Heather try to prevent her accident?
"I wouldn't change my accident as the good has far outweighed the bad. It has without a doubt helped to slowly erase the stigma of disability. If that just means one person suffers for the gain of many, then so be it."
What advice does Heather have for those who can still feel their amputated limb?
"It is actually a good thing your little sister can still "feel" her amputated limb - when she puts her prosthesis on, the sensation of her limb still being there will give her the confidence to bear down all the weight on her artificial leg. People can't even tell which of my legs is artificial because I still have those sensations and a comfortable, life-like limb. I fought for years to get the NHS to provide cosmetic limbs, and now they are; make sure you push for your sister to get one, or contact www.dorset-ortho.co.uk for a brochure. Make sure you tell her that confidence is everything in life, and with it she'll get whatever she wants."
Now that she is with Sir Paul, how does she cope with living in such a public arena?
"I lived in the public arena for eight years prior to meeting Paul, though now it's worldwide. I always advise others in the same situation not to read trashy papers; then they can never be hurt by idle gossip written by people who give nothing back in life and envy those who do."
What went through her mind when she witnessed the second tragic event in New York city, the plane crash in Queens?
"A feeling of immense sadness for the people on the plane and their families went through me, but I must say it was good news for the people of New York that it wasn't terrorism.

"I witnessed the start of the war in Yugoslavia, then worked there while the war moved through the whole country. I visited India, which immediately had an earthquake that killed 100,000 people and created 8,000 amputees. Now I've helped all of those amputees to be fitted with a limb or limbs in some cases. I believe that it's fate and the reason I'm there is to help make a difference."

Now that she has become vegetarian, does she plan to promote vegetarianism?
"I became a vegetarian when I lost my leg. Years later I changed back for a time (having read Eat Right For Your Blood Type) but felt so sluggish that I changed again. I promote it gently to my friends, who don't understand how I stay so slim. I say it's because my colon is not full of meat slowing my metabolism down. This tends to work better than shouting about the rights of the animals."
What was the inspiration for Night of 1,000 Dinners and how can one get involved?
"We wanted to do something that everyone could get involved in. Everybody eats, and most people cook. So on 30 November you can help by having dinner for your family and friends and charging them for the privilege. Or maybe, if you're a bad cook, charging them for not cooking and ordering pizza instead. Recipes and a video from Paul and myself are available for free from the website (or by calling 020-7265 4945), including lots of fun suggestions for a themed evening. All the money will be pooled together to clear many minefields and to help the survivors of landmine accidents."
 What is Heather's favourite Beatles track?
"Having been brought up by a father who thought he was a reincarnation of Richard Wagner, my knowledge of the Beatles was very limited until recently. I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be Here, There and Everywhere because it has a beautiful melody, is well structured and I love the changes."
What are her memories of her accident? Does she hold any bitterness?
"I had no bitterness towards the policeman until he sued me, one year after my accident, for anxiety, stress and loss of overtime. I never planned to sue until then, but I counter-sued and won in the end. I still lost a lot of money but won a standard for similar cases in the future. The sad thing was that, when I won, reporters who had previously supported me now wanted to do me harm because of my relationship with Paul."
Is there anything that her prosthetic limb stops her from doing?

"No, I can ski, rollerblade, swim, dance and run better than most."

How does her public image square with her internal reality?

"Whatever reality, there's inevitably a gap because my private family and friends are the only people that truly know me, and they get extremely angry with some of the media, but it's only a small percentage. Most wish to make a difference too, and I believe in karma: what goes around, comes around."
For more information about Adopt-A-Minefield and the Night of 1,000 Dinners, or to donate, contact 020-7265 4945 or info@landmines.org.uk 

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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