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star's horror ‘Kick from horse left my face deformed – it was not a pretty sight’ says Yvonne Connolly

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Yvonne Connolly and daughter Ali (15) as they launch the Dove Self-Esteem project in Ireland

Yvonne Connolly and daughter Ali (15) as they launch the Dove Self-Esteem project in Ireland

Yvonne and daughter Ali Keating (15) as they launch the Dove Self-Esteem project in Ireland

Yvonne and daughter Ali Keating (15) as they launch the Dove Self-Esteem project in Ireland

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Yvonne Connolly and daughter Ali (15) as they launch the Dove Self-Esteem project in Ireland

Yvonne Connolly was told she was in danger of losing her eye after a horrific freak accident with a horse left her face completely shattered and her arm broken in two places.

The keen equestrian ended up in intensive care in November 2019 after a horse kicked her with both hind legs, with one hoof catching her between the eyes, splitting her face open while the other hoof broke her arm.

A former top model, she said her face was left “deformed” as a result and it’s never going to be the same as it was again but she has gradually learned to accept her new war wounds as part of who she is.

“I broke my cheekbone, my socketbone, my nose and many bones in my face so I now have plates in my arm and three or four plates in face and as well being left with a lot of scars, my face was quite deformed for a while and it’s never going to be back to what it was,” she told the Irish Independent.

“It was not a pretty sight for a long time and we all just learnt to deal with it with a bit of humour. It was so bad, you just had to joke about it.”

A mum-of-three, her daughter Ali (15) was with her at their Kildare home at the time of the accident and she helped called the emergency services who rushed her to hospital.

Yvonne had to undergo several lengthy surgeries and was still undergoing treatment for her scars just a few months ago where she had a small amount of filler put into her nose.

“As bad as it was, I was in intensive care and was told that they were worried I was going to lose my eye and possibly my eyesight in both eyes. So when that didn’t happen, the rest of it was like ‘Oh it’s fine’ where you think it’s going to be worse,” she said.

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"So I just learnt to really love my body and I watched it heal and I realised my body is frigging amazing.”

Speaking as part of the Dove Self-Esteem project in Ireland after her first photocall since the incident, Yvonne said she really wanted to pass on the message to her daughters Missy (20) and Ali that looks were not the most important thing about a person.

New research has found that 87pc of Irish girls in Ireland do not have high body esteem, one of the highest figures globally.

Having her accident taught her the hard way to be less self-critical and accept her altered looks, she said.

“I definitely wanted to influence them when it came to that. If they saw me fall apart because I had scars on my face or wasn’t able to go outside the door in shame because my face was deformed for a long time, well what that say to them?

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“So I immediately was out and never tried to hide it. Shortly after my accident, I was going out to restaurants and you would get a lot of looks and again, people can stare and look and that’s hard on the person. So that was the message I wanted to get across to them, I wasn’t going to let it effect me. I've just learnt to embrace it and it’s part of who I am now.”

She found therapy in working with her horses and she said that lockdown and Covid gave her time to “heal privately” and come to terms with the accident.

"Although the horses were what what got me into this, they’re also what saved me, and they got me through Covid as well. I was always in the yard with the horses coming and going so thankfully

the year’s gone quite fast for us. It allowed me to heal in private so it’s all a learning curve,” she said.

www.dove.com/uk/dove-self-esteem-project.html

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