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Katie Price has apologised after causing offence with her comments about being a wheelchair user, after she called the experience “humiliating”.
The 42-year-old mother-of-five has broken her feet and ankles after jumping off a wall at a theme park while on a family holiday in Turkey in August, and is now using a wheelchair after undergoing surgery to fit metal plates and screws in her legs.
Price told The Sun newspaper: “Everything has hit me so hard, not only am I in a wheelchair but I have to learn to walk again and I’m disabled. It’s humiliating.
“I feel so embarrassed being pushed around. People treat me differently and I don’t know why my boyfriend stays with me.
“I just hate it because I’m helpless.”
The model admitted she must now rely on boyfriend Carl Woods, 31, for help with everything, including going to the toilet.
She said:“Being pushed around in a wheelchair, people treat you differently...
“And I feel sorry for Carl because he’s such a 6ft 2in, handsome, gorgeous man, and I bet people look him and think, ‘Look at you having to push her around in a wheelchair’.
“I look at the reflection in the shop windows, it’s demoralising, the heartbreak.”
Price’s comments sparked a debate on social media. While wheelchair users were offended by her comments, others admitted they could relate to how she was feeling.
Wheelchair basketball player Steph Taylor tweeted Price to say: “I’ve always backed you up, I need to know if what you said was true? Because I’ve been a life long wheelchair user, do you feel like we shouldn’t have partners because we’re disabled? Are we an embarrassment? Being disabled and in a wheelchair is absolutely not embarrassing.”
Meanwhile, fellow wheelchair user Emma tweeted: “The disability community seems quite angry with this. But as a disabled person quite new to using a wheelchair, I really relate to what @KatiePrice is saying. I’d love it if the community accepted those of us who find our disabilities difficult. These feelings are valid.”
A representative for Price said: "Katie herself is deeply sorry that her words in a recent interview have been taken out of her own personal account.
"Katie was was not relating to anyone else but herself, her own feelings, expressing her personal feelings on her horrific accident not in or about or aimed at those in wheelchairs or disabled, this was an account of her own feelings.
"Katie asks that those she has unwittingly offended grant her forgiveness as she never intended her words to be taken or dreamed to be offensive or detrimental in any way and is sorry for any upset caused as they were never intended to be taken in this way."
Alison Kerry, head of communications for disability equality charity Scope, told The Mirror: "Adapting to being in a wheelchair and needing help can be a big adjustment and feel overwhelming.
“But no one should be made to feel embarrassment, humiliation and shame.
“We hope that Katie is getting the support she needs at this time.
"We advise anyone facing this situation to join groups such as Scope’s thriving online community where they will meet disabled people who can discuss, advise and share their experiences, in a safe environment.
“Most importantly, it’s a space where they will not be judged and will have the support to get through this very difficult period.”