An inspiring London adaptive athlete has been appointed as the new ambassador for Legs4Africa, supporting the organisation in raising its voice to spearhead a positive change for amputees in sub-Saharan Africa.
Disability advocate Milly Pickles is an adaptive athlete and content creator who was recently awarded the coveted ‘Fitness Creator of the Year 2022’. With an astonishing 20 million likes and close to 400,000 followers on TikTok, she worked with leading gym wear brand Gym Shark for their para-athlete partnership.
On a mission to change people’s perceptions of the disabled community, Milly will join fellow para-athletes, such as Julie Rogers and Rosie Bancroft, in helping Bristol charity Legs4Africa which collects unwanted prosthetic legs from around the world and gives them a new home to help amputees in Africa get back on their feet.
Talking about why she was so passionate about supporting the charity, Milly Pickles said she wanted to make sure every amputee got the same access to life-changing support she received when she had a near-death experience a few years ago leaving her having to have her right leg amputated below the knee.
“I am thrilled to be supporting Legs4Africa in its mission to positively drive change in the lives of African amputees.
“I was fortunate enough to have the NHS to assist with my new journey as well as my family and friends who helped me cope with my sudden limb loss. However, there are thousands of amputees in Africa who don’t have the same access to these crucial support services, making it extremely hard for them to take that next step.
“It is an inspiration how the charity not only recycles unused prosthetic legs, saving them from landfill and providing a positive environmental impact but also works to support amputees who would otherwise not have access to prosthetics.”
Reflecting on her own rehabilitation journey and why it was so important charities like Legs4Africa provide more than just a prosthetic leg to individuals, she said:
“Rehabilitation opportunities played a tremendous role in helping me cope with my amputation – both physically and emotionally. The community and grassroots partnership programmes that Legs4Africa are supporting in Africa are so important in providing meaningful life opportunities to so many people. When your leg is amputated your whole world changes and it takes time and understanding to navigate that path. Legs4Africa provides hope and reassurance to those in the remotest regions that they are not on their own, something that I feel is just so important that we nurture so that everyone facing limb loss gets the same opportunities regardless of location.”
Tom Williams, the founder of Legs4Africa, said:
“We are pleased to be working with Milly Pickles. Her uplifting journey and dedication to helping others is an encouragement to everyone.
“Legs4Africa is proud to take a holistic approach. Our work is driving a change in drastically reducing the environmental impact of recycling prosthetic legs and providing ongoing support and opportunities to those facing challenging times.
“We are grateful to have Milly join our team as our new ambassador leading the way to raise awareness of the need for change.
“Her journey as an amputee has encouraged many of her peers to open up the conversation around limb loss in the UK and we know her determination and drive will continue to inspire many more people across the globe.”
While pursuing her degree at Bournemouth University, Milly was electrocuted which left her with severe injuries and fighting for her life. Fortunately, the doctors were able to save her but had to amputate her right leg.
In a bid to help others, she picked up the camera to document her journey as an amputee – helping her garner millions of likes and followers on social media platforms whilst raising awareness of limb loss.
Legs4Africa work with local mobility centres across the UK and recycles high-quality prosthetic legs with minimal environmental impact. By 2025 the charity hopes to increase the number of limb fitting centres it works with across Europe, Canada and the USA, to recycle unused and returned prosthetics.
The charity also works with seven organisations across Africa that support disabled communities through grassroots initiatives and mental rehabilitation services. Inadequate infrastructure, negative stigmas and poor social conditions in Africa make day-to-day life more difficult for amputees.
Through key collaborations with like-minded organisations, Legs4Africa has continuously raised its voice for amputees by leading mental rehabilitation services in the remotest of African regions and is at the forefront of funding several life-changing programmes that help amputees lead independent lives without any financial or social constraints. From supporting ongoing work opportunities to social and mobility support, each of the programmes provides hope and guidance to those mitigating life with limb loss.
Last year the team trained four new peer counsellors who are helping to change the narrative surrounding limb loss while preparing amputees emotionally and physically to steer through their new phase. Each peer counsellor draws on their own disability-related experiences to support amputees recover from stigma and assist them in developing hope and improve their lives.
The latest festive campaign ‘Step into Christmas’ raised £20000 pounds in a week, with donations coming from across the country. This will now go to boost mental rehabilitation services in the remotest regions of Northern Ghana.
Ambassadors for the charity include Paralympian Julie Rogers and TV presenter Alex Brooker. For more information and to support the campaign, please visit: https://www.legs4africa.org/step-into-christmas/.