The 2010 Women of the Year Awards has celebrated the extraordinary bravery of the young woman Katie Piper, who survived a horrific acid attack in 2008 and who has gone on to set up the Katie Piper Foundation, by awarding her with the 2010 Woman of Courage Award.
In May 2009, Katie Piper was introduced to the public after making the decision to give up her anonymity and share her horrific story in a remarkable film for Channel 4, Katie: My Beautiful Face. From CCTV footage of the horrific 2008 attack to the day she first stepped out of her parents’ house alone, Katie took the audience through the daily ordeal of rebuilding her life, the pioneering treatments that helped save her and the effects on both her and her family.
Katie Piper is a beautiful young woman rebuilding her life after surviving a brutal attack where sulphuric acid was thrown in her face, in March 2008. Before the attack, Katie was a model and budding TV presenter with a hectic social life and glowing future in the public eye. More than two years on with over 40 operations and countless treatments and therapies, Katie faces personal challenges daily but she is back in control, living her life.
Danny Lynch asked Katie on a date via Facebook but just two weeks into the relationship things went disastrously wrong. He became aggressive after a night out and she endured eight hours of rape and abuse. With death threats from Lynch, she was too scared to report him to the police and instead locked herself in her flat for three days.
Lynch bombarded her with calls and messages and in a desperate attempt to get him out of her life she believed his pleas that if she read an email from him he would leave her alone forever. As she left her flat to head to an internet café, a man approached holding a cup. Thinking he was a beggar, Katie reached into her bag for money. In a split second 19 year old Stefan Sylvestre threw a cup of sulphuric acid in her face.
The acid destroyed all the skin on Katie’s face, neck and hands, and left her blind in one eye. It also burnt her nose and throat so severely that she needed to be fed through a tube in her stomach and now regularly has operations to dilate her oesophagus as the scar tissue reforms and restricts her ability to eat and drink.
Surgeons, led by Mr Mohammed Ali Jawad FRCS, performed pioneering surgery on Katie. He chose to control the damage by removing they dead layers of skin from Katie’s face and rebuilding the foundations using a dermal substitute called Matriderm along with huge skin grafts from her back and buttocks. It’s the first of its kind in the world to be done as a single stage operation.
Katie spent seven weeks in the burns unit at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. She was placed in an induced coma and spent ten days in intensive care. She wore a special plastic pressure mask for 23 hours a day for two years, in an effort to flatten her scars.
The attack ruined Katie from the inside out. Like many, she believed her life was over now that she was a burns victim.
However, since then her achievements have only climbed, from talking on television and radio around the world to seting up the Katie Piper Foundation. The response to Katie’s story has been overwhelming and by telling it she hopes to increase awareness and support burn victims by sharing information about the kind of rehab she had and her experiences in getting to where she is today.
As well as her NHS care in Britain, Katie was sent to a specialist rehabilitation centre in France, Centre Ster in Lamalou, which had a huge impact on her recovery, both mentally and physically. At home her days were filled with specialist scar management routines. She relied on her mum and dad for help but thanks to the outstanding treatment she had and her incredible determination, Katie has made amazing progress and no longer feels that her burns define her.
The two men were linked and both were sentenced in April 2009. Lynch was given two life sentences and will serve at least sixteen years in jail. Stefan Sylvestre received a 12-year sentence, with a minimum of six years behind bars.
The 2010 Businesswoman of the Year finalists
Year on year, the prestigious title attracts an outstanding field of candidates and 2010 is no exception. The seven finalists drawn from every walk of life has each made a significant contribution to the financial success and performance of their organisation:
- Louise Bennett, Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
- Julie Moore, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
- Suzie Norton, Chief Executive of Birmingham based Screen West Midlands.
- Alison Wetton, Founder and Chief Executive of All About Weight, headquartered in Crewe.
- Kavita Jnagal and Rani Upelle, co-founders of Simply Recruitment, based in Birmingham.
- Fiona Toye, Chief Executive of Toye, Kenning and Spencer, headquartered in Birmingham.
The judges were Ben Gulliford, Regional Centre Head for Barclays Wealth , Silla Maizey, Management Board Director, British Airways, Gavin Tyzack, Director of Sales Southern Division, Hilton Hotels UK, Geoff Cousins, Managing Director of Jaguar UK, Tracy Westall, UK Public Sector Sales Director in the UK, SCC
About the event
Now in its 28th year of fundraising success, the Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards is the best kept secret outside of London and a sell out year on year, the event is attended by hundreds of high profile and talented female guests. The 2010 event sponsors were Barclays Wealth, British Airways, Harvey Nichols, Hilton Birmingham Metropole, Jaguar, SCC and The Challenge Factor.
The event raises vital funds for the national charity, Vitalise, which provides essential respite breaks and other services for disabled people, visually impaired people, and carers. Proceeds from the Awards are donated directly to Vitalise. Over the years, the awards have raised over £500,000 for the charity.
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Vitalise is a national charity providing essential services for disabled people, visually impaired people and carers. Vitalise provides short breaks for disabled people and carers, with 24-hour nursing care on-call and personal support, at three accessible UK centres. A fourth Centre in Cornwall provides accessible activity and adventure breaks for children and adults with disabilities. All of Vitalise’s Centres offer a wide range of activities and excursions. Vitalise also organises group holidays for blind and visually impaired people, accompanied by sighted guides.
Media contacts and images
Beatrice Mocci Tel 0141 339 4175 / Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Louise Acton Tel 07595 355 938 / Email email@example.com
Colin Brook Vitalise – Mobile 07960 464 728
For more information about Katie Piper
In depth Bio: http://www.katiepiperfoundation.org.uk/