‘Trauma doesn't have to be a life sentence' – Katie Piper receives OBE
Loose Women star Katie Piper has revealed how she maintains a positive mindset through tough times and how Christianity influenced her recovery from life-changing burns, as she collected an OBE at Windsor Castle.
The former model, who suffered an acid attack arranged by her ex-boyfriend in March 2008, received her honour from the Princess Royal for services to charity through The Katie Piper Foundation, which supports burns victims.
Piper, from Hampshire, was left partially blind and with severe scarring to her face, chest, neck, arm and hands at the age of 24.
Now aged 38, the mother-of-two described it as “a wonderful privilege” to receive an OBE from Anne at the Queen’s Berkshire residence.
When asked how she continues to inspire positivity in people who have experienced life-changing burns and injuries, she said: “To be truthful, I don’t always maintain a positive outlook.
“It’s about surrendering to that as a normal part of life, the highs and the lows, and being able to surrender to the lows make them fewer and farther between.
“But I suppose really I would describe myself really as somebody that does celebrate life, because I think we’ve all experienced the fragility of life.
“That was why I wanted to set the charity up, because after a burn injury, we have our lives saved by the amazing NHS, but it’s the quality of life afterwards and going back into society with a visible difference that’s really difficult, and it’s not something that we can do alone.
“Trauma is part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.
“With the support of a charity or organisation it’s a lot easier to re-integrate back into society and what you knew as normal because you now have a new normal.”
The best-selling author, whose latest self-help book is titled A Little Bit Of Faith, said her recovery was heavily influenced by finding hope through Christianity.
“It’s something that I came to later in life, in my 20s, it was part of my own recovery,” Piper told PA.
“In my book, I suppose faith is the key word – holding on to hope, holding on to faith.
“For everyone, that doesn’t look like religion, it might be spirituality, you might not put a label on it.
“But if we all have something that feels bigger than us and bigger than our problems I think that can help us all remain optimistic.”
The TV personality and activist founded the Katie Piper Foundation, which provides rehabilitation services to burns victims, in 2009. The charity has recently issued an emergency appeal for donations.
“We lost a quarter of our income in lockdown because a lot of our fundraising events were face-to-face – sporting events, dinners, big crowds, so we’ve been unable to do this in the last 18 months,” Piper said.
“But actually the demand on our services increased – people self-harming through burns, historical burn injuries where the psychological journey had gone backwards in confidence in lockdown and in isolation, and people who were in accidents and traumas prior to the lockdown and woke up from comas in the middle of the world suddenly changing.”
Piper said the charity has set up a survivors’ support line which links burns patients on units where staff have been re-deployed amid the Covid effort to physiotherapists and psychologists.
In 2009, Piper gave up her right to anonymity and made a Channel 4 documentary called Katie: My Beautiful Face.
The activist has undergone more than 250 operations over the past decade, and she now hosts a podcast, Katie Piper’s Extraordinary People, where she chats with inspirational people who have turned adversity into positivity.