Hollyoaks star Gemma Merna says burns victim Katie Piper is “inspirational”
As fans of Hollyoaks will know, Carmel McQueen had to be treated in hospital for burns after a tanning lamp exploded in her face, leaving her permanent scars…
And today, Gemma Merna, who plays Carmel, has revealed that as part of her research into the storyline, she learned more about what happened to Katie Piper, who, very bravely, has allowed cameras to follow her road to recovery from an horrendous acid attack.
In Channel 4’s documentaries about Katie, we first heard how an ex-boyfriend paid an associate to throw acid in Katie’s face. The burns she received were catastrophic, and as well as rebuilding her own life – and her face – since the attack, Katie is also the patron of a charity that she established to help other burns victims.
Of Katie and her remarkable courage, Gemma told the Daily Mirror, “Katie is a beautiful girl. What happened to her was horrific…
“She is such an inspiration, the work she does for charity is incredible.”
And though of course Carmel’s burns are nowhere near the magnitude of Katie’s very real-life burns, nonetheless, Gemma revealed she can empathise with how Carmel must feel now her appearance has changed.
She explained, “In Hollyoaks, Carmel is this beautiful girl and something horrific happens to her…
”For Carmel it is heartbreaking because she is all about how she looks. She can’t cope with her injuries.”
And as fans will know, so devastated was Carmel that she even contemplated committing suicide, but Gemma has discovered that help for victims of disfiguring accidents isn’t always easy to find.
She said, “It’s very scary that people get to the point where they can’t talk to anybody.
“I have had some amazing messages on Twitter from people saying that it’s helped them.
“Sometimes Hollyoaks is all about comedy, so it’s great to get something gritty and meaningful like this.”
Gemma is also a staunch supporter of a campaign which seeks to highlight the dangers of regularly using sunbeds.
She said, “I want to say to people out there, be very, very careful when it comes to electrical tanning.
”I can’t tell you how important it is to me to get that message across, especially to young girls.
“If you put your face in front of an electrical device, these situations can happen.
”Because of peer pressure to look brown I started using sunbeds when I was 15 and I used to burn.
”I had a photo done a few years ago to see how much sun damage I had and it was really shocking.
“You don’t realise how much damage these things do to you. Sunbeds are the main cause of skin cancer.
“Young girls shouldn’t be under any pressure to tan.”
Carmel’s story continues in Hollyoaks on Channel 4.