Piper in March 2012
Kate Elizabeth Piper|
12 October 1983
Andover, England, UK
|Occupation||Activist, writer, television presenter|
Richard Sutton (m. 2015)
Piper was an aspiring model in the mid-2000s. In March 2008, she was attacked with acid by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice, causing major damage to her face and blindness in one eye. Piper underwent pioneering surgery to restore her face and vision. Both attackers were convicted and given life sentences. In 2009, Piper gave up her right to anonymity in order to increase awareness about burn victims. Her experience was documented in the 2009 Channel 4 documentary Katie: My Beautiful Face part of the Cutting Edge series. It has subsequently been repeated on several occasions, made available for online on-demand access and sold internationally.
More recently, Piper has appeared in follow-up series for Channel 4, released a best-selling autobiography, and had a regular column in weekly magazines. She also presents the Channel 4 television series Bodyshockers about members of the public about to undergo body-altering procedures and those who regret procedures they have had. Her main work has been for the Katie Piper Foundation, which she founded to help victims of burns and other disfigurement injuries. On 13 August 2018, she was announced as the first contestant for that year's Strictly Come Dancing.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career prior to attack
- 3 Assault and acid attack
- 4 Treatment and recovery
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Television and radio
- 7 Writing
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 Katie Piper Foundation
- 10 Reference
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Early life and education
Piper was born in Andover, Hampshire to David Piper and his wife Diane, and attended Harrow Way School and Portway Junior School as a child. She has an older brother, Paul and a younger sister, Suzy.
Career prior to attack
Piper subsequently began a career in modelling; she took part in various fashion, glamour and promotional photoshoots during her career, including modelling for national newspapers.
Piper also entered competitive beauty pageants and contests; she was the 2nd runner-up in the Miss Winchester 2006 beauty pageant, and took part in Maxim magazine's Little Black Book contest in 2006.
Piper also began work as a promotional model – appearing and carrying out publicity duties at live events, such as working as a ring-card girl at martial arts fixtures. It was through her work as a ring-girl that Piper became known within the MMA (mixed martial arts) community.
Piper also conducted a career as a digital television presenter, working principally on web-TV shows and features, and on small digital television channels, primarily in the shopping and live-chat fields. As her career began to develop, Piper moved away from her family home in Hampshire, and began to live with friends in a flat in the Golders Green area of North London.
Assault and acid attack
Daniel Lynch, a martial arts enthusiast who had been tracking Piper's media and modelling career, met her through the online social site Facebook. Unknown to her, Lynch had previously been jailed for throwing boiling water into a man's face. The two first met in person in Reading, Berkshire, where Piper had been working, and initially Piper was pleased with the relationship.
Two weeks into their relationship, the couple booked into a hotel in Bayswater, following a meal out. In the hotel room, Lynch raped and beat Piper, threatened to cut her with a razor and hang her, and stabbed her several times in the arms. After eight hours at the hotel, they drove back to Piper's Golders Green flat. Piper was treated for her wounds at Royal Free Hospital, but withheld the nature of the incident from the doctors and police, because she was afraid of Lynch.
Piper received numerous phone calls and apologies from Lynch. On 31 March 2008, two days after the initial attack, Lynch persuaded Piper to go to an internet cafe to read an email he had sent to her Facebook account. Lynch gave her details to Stefan Sylvestre, who identified her on Golders Green Road. Wearing a hoodie to obscure his identity, Sylvestre approached Piper, who thought he was going to ask for money, and then threw sulphuric acid at her face.
Lynch received two life sentences, and will serve a minimum of 16 years. Sylvestre received a life sentence, and will serve a minimum of 12 years. As a pre-trial inmate, Lynch was held in Pentonville Prison.
Treatment and recovery
Immediately after the attack, Piper ran into a local café, where an ambulance was called. Crews had to wait an hour before being able to treat Piper, because of the risk presented by the acid, which was still unidentified at that point, and because Sylvestre could still have been nearby. Piper was treated in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where her treatment was led by Dr. Mohammad Ali Jawad. The acid, some of which Piper had swallowed, blinded her in her left eye, and caused partial thickness and full thickness burns. The surgeons completely removed the skin of Piper's face, and replaced it with a skin substitute, Matriderm, to build the foundations for a skin graft. This procedure was the first of its kind to be done in a single operation.
Piper was put into an induced coma for 12 days, during which her weight dropped to 38 kg (84 lbs). She has been through a total of 40 surgical operations to treat her injuries, and wore a plastic face mask for 23 hours a day, which flattened the scars and helped retain moisture. As part of her care from the National Health Service, Piper was treated at a clinic in Southern France. The treatment she received there was designed to break down scar tissue, and prevent skin contraction.
Subsequent to the attack, Piper moved out of her London flat and returned to Hampshire to live with her parents and younger sister Suzy. Her mother, Diane Piper, who was a classroom assistant in a primary school, gave up her job so she could look after her daughter following the attack.
Following her recovery and the successful establishment of the Katie Piper Foundation, Piper again moved out of the family home and returned to living alone in London, a process documented in episodes of Katie: My Beautiful Face; she later moved to live with her partner Richard Sutton, a carpenter and eventual father of Belle. Although no longer resident there, Piper continues to maintain strong links with Andover and Hampshire, where her family remains.
In October 2013 she announced that she was pregnant. Piper gave birth to her first child, Belle Elizabeth, in March, 2014. In December 2014, she announced her engagement to her partner Richard James Sutton. They married on 6 November 2015. In June 2017, Piper announced she was pregnant with her second child. On 13 December 2017, she gave birth to the couple's second daughter.
Television and radio
Katie: My Beautiful Face
Although Piper had the right to remain anonymous because of the sexual assault, she chose to waive her anonymity, in an attempt to increase public awareness of the situation for burn victims, and also the treatment they go through. Piper also took part in a documentary about her experience, Katie: My Beautiful Face, which was aired by Channel 4 on 29 October 2009, and, according to figures from Attentional, gained over 3.3 million viewers. The programme was repeated three times during 2009: once on Christmas Day, 2009 on Channel 4 (to tie in with Piper giving the Alternative Christmas Message) and twice on More4 (in early November and late December, each a few days after a C4 screening). There was further More4 screening on 13 February 2011 ahead of the release of Piper's book and follow-up series. The film was broadcast to viewers in Wales on the now-defunct analogue service of S4C on 15 November 2009 at midnight: digital viewers in Wales had access to the Channel 4 and More4 broadcasts.
The documentary has been made available for global sale by Mentorn International and has been picked up for broadcast in a number of territories. The film has also been made available to UK viewers on an on-demand basis over Channel 4's online 4oD platform and the 4oD channel on YouTube UK's TV Shows section.
Alternative Christmas message
On 25 December 2009, Katie Piper read out the Alternative Christmas Message 2009 on Channel 4. The message was about Piper's own experiences, family, and not judging people by their appearance. The Message was produced by Mentorn Media, the firm which also produced "Katie: My Beautiful Face".
In December 2011, Piper took part in her second Alternative Christmas Message for Channel 4; in one of two messages broadcast that year, Piper was joined by participants from Seven Dwarves, Beauty and the Beast: Ugly Face of Prejudice and My Transsexual Summer for a message with the theme "Just Be Yourself" (the other message featured senior staff from the school featured in Educating Essex.)
On 8 January 2010, the ABC (US)'s news-magazine television series 20/20 featured Katie Piper as its primary subject. The programme consisted of a new interview with Piper, conducted by Elizabeth Vargas, and footage of Piper at home, including material which had appeared in "Katie: My Beautiful Face".
Katie: My Beautiful Friends
In May 2010 it was confirmed that Katie Piper would be involved in a new series for Channel 4. The series would again see Piper working with Mentorn Media, producer of Katie: My Beautiful Face. The series features Piper meeting people who have been disfigured, disabled or physically altered as a result of illness, injury, assault, accident or surgery. A call for potential interview subjects appeared on Channel 4's 'Take Part' website in May 2010. The films also chronicle the development and growth of the Katie Piper Foundation, and Piper's efforts towards this. The series is titled Katie: My Beautiful Friends, and began its four-part run on 22 March 2011. Items of supporting information and relevant associated content relating to the programme were placed on the Channel 4 website in tandem with the programme's broadcast. The series was broadcast in America on the OWN from 16 August 2011.
|1.1||Katie meets Chantelle, who suffers from arteriovenous malformation and requires urgent surgery, and Adele, a teenage ballerina scalded when she suffered an epileptic fit in the shower.||22 March 2011|
|1.2||Katie meets Will, a teenager beginning his road to recovery after a recent barbecue explosion, and Emily, a graduate burned in a house fire as a child.||29 March 2011|
|1.3||Katie meets Amit, a university student with neurofibromatosis, and aspiring comic book illustrator Andrew, who has Treacher-Collins syndrome.||5 April 2011|
|1.4||Katie meets Pfeiffer syndrome sufferer Kayleigh, and George, who is undergoing surgery for a form of inherited skin cancer. She also revisits Chantelle to check on her progress.||12 April 2011|
Katie: The Science of Seeing Again
On 7 February 2012, Channel 4 broadcast a new one-off film featuring Piper as she prepared to undergo stem-cell surgery in a bid to restore sight in her damaged left eye. "Katie: The Science of Seeing Again" saw Piper look into the biology of the eye, visit America to look into the religious and moral debate around the use of embryos in stem-cell research, and monitored her as she underwent the treatment by surgeon Sheraz Daya at Centre for Sight in East Grinstead, West Sussex. As with Piper's five previous Channel 4 films, this was produced by Mentorn Media. Within the programme Piper revealed she had undergone 109 medical operations in the four years since the acid attack, with the eye operation being her 110th.
In spring 2013, at around the same time as Piper's participation in Gok Live was confirmed, her next solo C4 project was announced, which was to be a new documentary series with the working title "Undo Me", which would look at cosmetic and surgical procedures, and give advice to those looking to restore a more natural look having previously undergone treatments they now regret. "Undo Me" was, like Gok Live, to be produced by Endemol UK arm Remarkable Television, and was initially slated for broadcast in late 2013, though transmission was subsequently delayed into 2014.
Undo Me eventually began to air weekly from 30 January 2014, by which time the proposed six-episode series had shrunk to four parts and acquired the name Bodyshockers, with each episode having a sub-title linked to the episode's main theme.
In summer 2014 it was confirmed that a second series of Bodyshockers had been commissioned by Channel 4 - the new episodes entered production in autumn 2014 for scheduled transmission early in 2015. Bodyshockers thus becomes the first of Piper's programmes to be reordered for a second run. This second series, which has seen the show acquire the sub-title "Nips, Tucks and Tattoos" for all transmitted episodes - individual episode titles continue to be listed on the Channel 4 website - began transmitting on Monday nights from 5 January 2015, transferring to Wednesday nights part-way through the run.
In February 2015, part-way through the broadcast run of series two, it was confirmed that a third series of Bodyshockers had been ordered by Channel 4.
Other TV and radio work
Katie Piper has appeared on a number of television and radio programmes to talk about her experience; the Australian series 60 Minutes featured Piper in November 2009. In the same month, she appeared on Channel 4's Krishnan Guru-Murthy-hosted television-led debate The TV Show to discuss the reaction to the original documentary.
Piper has also appeared as a guest on a number of British magazine and news programmes including Live From Studio Five, Woman's Hour, BBC Breakfast and This Morning. Outside the UK, Piper has appeared on broadcasters including CNN.
Around the time of the broadcast of Katie: My Beautiful Friends, Piper appeared on a number of magazine and features programmes to discuss the series, in some cases accompanied by one of the ambassadors; these appearances included This Morning (with Adele), The Vanessa Show (with Amitish), Fern (with Kayleigh), OK! TV and Loose Women (Piper alone). Piper also appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live with Chantelle as guests of Phil Williams (sitting in for Victoria Derbyshire), but prior to their going on air Chantelle was insulted by a security guard at the studios, an incident which was subsequently referred to by Williams on-air during the interview.
Katie Piper appeared as a guest on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch in May 2012 and again in April 2013, and on the channel's 2012 Paralympic Games Breakfast Show on 1 September 2012. She then appeared on the panel of Channel 5's The Wright Stuff on 29 October, an edition of the show guest-hosted by Richard Madeley.
In October 2012, Piper participated in a new week-long series for Channel 4. Hotel GB saw a group of Channel 4 personalities - headed by Mary Portas, Gordon Ramsay, Gok Wan, Kirstie Allsopp, Phil Spencer, Christian Jessen, Kim Woodburn and Piper - running a London hotel with the aim of training a group of young unemployed people for potential careers in the hospitality industry, with viewers able to visit the hotel as guests and use the facilities. Piper drew on her past as a beautician to run the hotel's salon/spa area, assisted by one of the apprentices, Manisha.
In early 2013, Katie Piper again took part in a multihanded Channel 4 project alongside other presenters from the station; this was for The Secret Millions, a Secret Millionaire spin-off which saw each of five C4 hosts—Piper, Gok Wan, George Clarke, David Fishwick and Jimmy Doherty—work with a charitable or public-service organisation, running a scheme or pilot with the aid of disadvantaged or unemployed individuals, with the aim of convincing the Big Lottery Fund to give up to £2million of funding (per scheme) for such projects to be rolled out more fully. The series of five episodes began with George Clarke's project on 17 March 2013, Piper's episode airing on 14 April as the fourth of five transmitted, and the programme features a project in which reformed prisoners were prepared for re-entry into the workplace by undertaking working placements in furniture manufacture. In the week leading up to the Secret Millions broadcast, The Community Channel reran several of Piper's past Channel 4 documentaries from 8 April.
In summer 2013 new TV project again involving Piper working alongside Gok Wan was announced by Channel 4. This would see Piper involved as a regular participant in a new live fashion series. The three-part Gok Live: Stripping for Summer was broadcast over three weeks live from the plaza of MediaCityUK in Salford Quays and saw Piper in attendance at each week's live makeover, as well as filing filmed reports on summer beauty tips for each episode. Gok Live was produced by Remarkable Television, a division of Endemol UK. The commission of Undo Me was confirmed around the same time as that of Gok Live, but Gok Live went to air first.
Piper also appeared as a box-opener in Gok Wan's edition of Celebrity Deal or No Deal in 2013.
Piper presents Channel 4's Never Seen a Doctor, which began on 4 May 2016.
On August 13th 2018, Katie was announced on BBC Breakfast as the first contestant in that year's 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Piper's autobiography, called Beautiful, was published in paperback by Ebury Press on 17 February 2011. Segments of the book were serialised over two weeks in late January/early February 2011 in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
It was announced in early 2012 that, following the success of Beautiful, Piper had signed a new three-book deal with publisher Quercus, which will see her writing a series of new titles, beginning in May 2012 with the release of a self-help book to be titled Things Get Better: If you believe then you will survive.
The next book bearing Piper's name was a page-a-day compilation of positive affirmations, quotes and mantras, Start Your Day with Katie, to be released late September 2012; in the build-up to this, Quercus ran a selection of quotes from the book during September on a dedicated Blogspot page.
In October 2013 Piper announced via Twitter that she had met with representatives from Quercus Books with regard to producing a second volume of memoirs, likely to cover the period following the publication of Beautiful in 2011. This second autobiography was subsequently confirmed to be titled Beautiful Ever After and was released on 1 September 2014.
Katie Piper released her next book "Confidence: the Secret" in late 2016.
As a columnist
Piper began a regular column in Reveal magazine in April 2011. This ended in July 2012. In October 2012 she began her second stint as a columnist, writing weekly for Now magazine; this column ran until January 2014. Piper has also written occasional one-off 'guest columns' for newspapers including the Sunday Mirror and its Trinity Mirror stablemate, the Sunday People.
Awards and nominations
Katie Piper was named winner of the 'Courage Award' at the Pride of Andover Awards (supported by Andover Sound) in October 2010; then, on 6 October Piper was announced as winner of the publicly voted 'Most Inspirational' prize at the Inspiration Awards for Women.
Piper also won the "Women to Watch: Inspiration" award at Red magazine's "Red's Hot Women Awards" in 2010.
Piper was awarded the Sainsbury's Women of the Year "You Can" Award at the Women of the Year Awards 2011, held in October 2011.
Other public appearances
On 28 April 2010, she spoke (in a non-party political manner) at a Labour Party election press conference, where she described how CCTV cameras had been instrumental in convicting her attackers. Piper also attended the Glam in the City event, which took place in Glasgow in June 2010.
Katie Piper Foundation
In late 2009, Katie Piper established a charity, the Katie Piper Foundation, aimed at raising awareness of the plight of victims of burns and other disfigurement injuries: the charity also campaigns for the specialist treatment Piper received – such as the after-care scheme undertaken in France – to be more widely available to patients in Britain. Simon Cowell is a patron of the foundation, along with her surgeon Dr. Mohammad Ali Jawad.
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