Josie Russell is a walking testament to the power of human spirit… her mum would be very proud

JOSIE Russell is an astonishing young woman who has survived against all the odds.

In 1996, when she was just nine years old, she survived a hammer attack that killed her mum Lin and little sister Megan.

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Josie Russell is an astonishing young woman who proves the power of human spirit[/caption]

The three of them were walking down a quiet country lane near the Kent village of Chillenden when they were tied up, blindfolded and ­repeatedly beaten.

Josie’s mum and sister were found dead at the scene. The ­family’s beloved pet dog was also killed by deranged Michael Stone.

Josie herself was left with such severe head injuries that medics at she scene thought she was dead before finding a faint pulse.

This little girl was a fighter.

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In 1996, Josie, her mum and little sister were walking down a quiet country lane near the Kent village of Chillenden when they were tied up, blindfolded and ­repeatedly beaten[/caption]

It was a story that truly shocked the nation and everyone prayed she would pull through. Her distraught dad Shaun was mourning his wife and youngest daughter while not knowing if traumatised Josie, right, would make it.

It must have been horrendous for both of them.

Josie couldn’t speak for a year after the attack, had to have an operation to put a titanium plate in her head and her recovery was slow. It was all about small ­victories, and it was down to the tenacity of a little girl who just wanted to live a normal life.

Now she is flourishing.

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It was a story that truly shocked the nation and everyone prayed she would pull through – and now Josie is flourishing[/caption]

Josie has become a successful artist, is engaged to her soul mate Iwan Jones and recently bought the family home in Wales where she spent her early childhood before they all moved to Kent where the attack happened.

The house is full of happy memories and Josie dwells on events like her mum bringing home Rosie the pony when she was just five years old and teaching her to ride.

Rosie is now a grand old lady of 27 and one of the most ­important things in Josie’s life.

The feisty little pony is a link to her mum and little sister and played a massive part in her recovery. Learning how to ride again gave her confidence and a sense of freedom.

Josie graduated with a degree in graphic design in 2009 and built up her own art business, first by selling handmade cards at fairs and now producing beautiful ­textile landscapes.

I’ve met Josie several times over the years, most memorably shortly after the accident when she was still coming to terms with the double tragedy of the death of both her mum and sister.

She was shy and wary but gradually I gained her confidence and we spent a lovely afternoon together with her dad Shaun and Rosie the pony.

I caught up with her again this week, and I’m always struck by her positivity and her refusal to be thought of as a victim.

She very much lives in the moment and always tries to seize the day and be positive.

Josie is a walking testament to the power of the human spirit and her mum would be very proud of her beautiful, talented, happy daughter.

One Hill of a laugh

LOTS of speculation already over who will be heading Down Under for I’m A Celebrity in November.

Names being bandied around include EastEnder Danny Dyer, Corrie’s Michael Le Vell and former Strictly pro Brendan Cole.

I’d really like to see my pal Dr Hilary Jones, who we’ve mocked up in the jungle, on I’m A Celebrity

GMB’s Kate Garraway is keeping mum about rumours but she would be a hoot, although the person I’d really like to see there is my pal and TV colleague Dr Hilary Jones, who we’ve mocked up in the jungle, pictured.

A team player and an action man, he also has a filthy sense of humour, doesn’t suffer fools gladly and would dispense medicine and advice when the insects start to bite and tummies get upset after being fed a diet of ostrich bum.

And at the risk of objectifying the good doctor, I would pay good money to see him in his skimpies having a shower at the famous waterfall.

My museum 'Dee-light'

I’M beside myself with excitement at this weekend’s opening of the V&A museum in Dundee. It’s an astonishing building at the centre of the city’s renaissance.

The ambitious project was first discussed in 2004, when I was rector of Dundee University. It’s wonderful to see it spring to life.

Inevitably, costs spiralled. But hopefully the increase in tourism, business and the jobs created will more than offset the £80million price tag.

As a proud adopted Dundonian, I want the V&A to be a museum for everyone. I hope schoolchildren will enjoy the exhibits, friends will meet there for coffee and everyone in Dundee will think of it as their own.

It’s here and I can’t wait to celebrate.

Can’t take Corrie seriously any more

IT’S a bit icky – and frankly unbelievable – that Corrie has Jim McDonald pretending his current girlfriend is his dead daughter in order to wreak revenge on his clan.

More Game Of Thrones than a game of dominoes down the Rovers… and I can’t take it seriously.

I’m glad to see Big Jim back in Coronation Street – Jim McDonald [Charles Lawson] with LizMcDonald [Beverley Callard]

That being said, I’m actually rather glad to see Big Jim back in Coronation Street, so I am. I’ve missed him bellowing “ELIZABETH!” and talking about being in the big house, so I have.

I just wish they hadn’t oversensationalised his return because the character is big enough not to need such an OTT comeback.

It did get me thinking as to who else I would like to see back in Soapland.

And one fab character sprang to mind. I’m sure you recall Emmerdale’s Paul Lambert, who made a huge impact during his five years in the Dales.

But it’s frankly unbelievable that Corrie has Jim McDonald pretending his current girlfriend is his dead daughter

Paul was played by the ridiculously handsome Mathew Bose, who must have a painting in the attic because he hasn’t aged a day since leaving school.

Surely his return is long overdue. His family are still in Emmerdale, including dad Rodney Blackstock, auntie Diane Sugden and his half-sisters. There are lots of layers to Paul, too.

His alter-ego is drag queen Thelma Louise, while he and his boyfriend Jonny were the first characters in a primetime drama to have a civil partnership, back in 2008.

Surely such an interesting character should be welcomed back to Emmerdale with open arms.

Bodyguard secrets

I KNOW we’ve all got our theories about TV’s Bodyguard but what about Budd’s estranged wife Vicky and the invisible boyfriend?

We don’t know anything about him but he has been in the family home and Vicky could have inadvertently given away vital secrets.

We will know more tomorrow night, but I’m spending far more time than is good for me speculating about how it’s all going to be resolved.

Snarling hate mob backfired

IT’S been a long time since I considered Jacob Rees-Mogg an amusing anachronism, a bit like a pocket watch.

Behind this softly spoken throwback to the Victorian age is a flinty hard-liner who would deny a raped woman the right to an abortion.

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I’m not a fan of Jacob Rees-Mogg but I was appalled by the mob of ‘class warriors’ who heckled his kids and their elderly nanny[/caption]

He’s hell-bent on a rock-hard Brexit, and he doth protest too much about not wanting to be Prime Minister for it to ring true. So it’s fair to say I’m not a fan.

But I was appalled by the rude, ignorant mob of “class warriors” who heckled his kids and their elderly nanny outside the family home this week.

It was cruel, savage and out of order. Rees-Mogg has chosen to be a politician and is used to being barracked.

His children, however, are NOT public figures. They are little kids, who looked scared by the thuggish behaviour of the idiots, who did their cause no good at all.

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Politicians from all sides expressed their disgust but the protesters don’t think they have done anything wrong[/caption]

They were there to protest about the minimum wage, and one of them shouted at the children that their nanny, Veronica Crook, wasn’t paid very much to “wipe their bottoms”.

Veronica, who has been with the family for half a century, was not best pleased by this, and in a brisk, no-nonsense way defended her boss and ushered her charges indoors. You got the feeling she would dearly have loved to give the protesters a very hard stare and sit them on the naughty step.

Politicians from all sides expressed their disgust but those responsible don’t think they have done anything wrong.

The minimum wage is well worth fighting for, but not like this.

The demonstrators managed to humanise Rees-Mogg, and gained him bucketloads of sympathy. A spectacular own goal.

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