April 21, 2005 -- The News Journal (Delaware)
Heather Mills McCartney speaks of overcoming obstacles
The rumors had swirled for weeks. Paul McCartney might pop into the DuPont Theatre in Wilmington on Wednesday to visit his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, who was in town as a speaker in the Smart Talk Women's Lecture series.
While the Beatle did not make an appearance, many in the audience showed they were not let down. They laughed at his wife's self-deprecating humor and applauded her message of perseverance.
Curiously, she spoke of the rumors of her husband's appearance soon after taking the stage. She talked about misconceptions of how the public should act around Paul.
Mills McCartney, 37, said that someone told her: " 'We've been told not to look into your husband's eyes. We must hold our heads down as we walk by."
"It's funny to see how these things get started," she said.
Long before she met Paul, Mills McCartney was an up-and-coming model. She was making quite a success of it when in 1993 she was struck by a police motorcycle and lost her left leg below the knee. She kept a positive attitude and soon resumed her career. She also became an advocate for amputees, delivering prosthetic limbs to war-torn countries, which earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
She showed off her prosthetic leg on stage, turning her ankle this way and that and waving her hands downward as a model would do to show how real the limb looks.
"We created this leg, which you have to admit looks pretty fantastic," she said.
She spoke of two incidents when her prosthetic leg came off unexpectedly.
The first time was five months after leaving the hospital while on a skiing trip, of all things. While sitting in the ski lift, the leg slipped off and went dropping far down to the snow below.
"This German guy is freaking out," she said. "And I said, 'No, no, no, don't look. There's no blood.' "
The second time, she was in a posh restaurant on a hot day when the leg went flying off while she was walking. The elastic of her stocking caught the leg and it came back like a yo-yo on a string. It was such a hoity-toity restaurant that no one even stopped eating. They acted as if something like that happens all the time, she said.
Mills McCartney is perhaps most identified as a patron of Adopt-a-Minefield. She has worked for years to raise funds and awareness to ban land mines. She screened a video about land mines near the end of her talk that depicted some of the worldwide devastation and reported that 28,000 people are killed every year by land mines - a third of them children.
Linda Lee Fuski, of Claymont, said she was anticipating hearing Mills McCartney because she admires how she overcame adversity.
"So many of us give up after something bad happens and they have a hard time with life," she said. "You just have to persevere. You can't give up, and you will be a happier person."
Lisa Brand, of Delaware City, and her mom, Helen Reagan, of New Castle, came to see Mills McCartney because they are big Beatles fans. They both said it would be nice if Paul dropped in.
"That would be great," Brand said. "But I don't think he'll do it, though. He's the kind of person that, if it's her night to shine, he's not going to take it away from her."
Both are looking forward to seeing Paul McCartney when he visits Philadelphia Sept. 22 on his recently announced U.S. tour.
Paul first met Heather Mills at a charity function in 1999, a little more than a year after his longtime wife and Wings musical collaborator, Linda, succumbed to cancer. The musician and model/activist were married in 2002 and have a 1-year-old daughter, Beatrice Milly McCartney.