Kim spreads a peace message

IT was an iconic photograph that changed the world's view of war.

And changed the life of the little girl – her skin scorched by napalm – captured as she fled her bomb stricken village, Trang Bang, in the Vietnam War.

Although she still bears the physical scars from the horrific burns she endured, Kim Phuc now uses her experience of that fateful day on June 8, 1972 to spread the message of peace.

A message she brought to Blackpool this weekend.

Now, a Unesco Goodwill Ambassador for the Culture of Peace, Kim is no stranger to public speaking.

But telling her story in the opulent Tower Ballroom surrounded by show girls, chocolate fountains and magicians was a far cry from her days following the bombing – a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures.

Mrs Phuc said: "The Tower is beautiful, the people of Blackpool should be proud.

"I'm so grateful for that photograph. I can use that picture to say that's what happened to me but now there is a second picture of my life.

"If that little girl can do it, you can do it too."

The 46-year-old was the star guest at King Edward VII and Queen Mary School's charity Butterfly Ball along with Dana Scallon – the Irish politician and singer who won Eurovision 40 years ago.

Dr Sindy Newman, chairman of the KEQMS Friends and Parents Association, who organised Mrs Phuc's visit said: "We wanted her to come to hear her message of peace and compassion."

Mrs Phuc, who now lives in Toronto with her husband Bui Huy Toan and children Thomas, 15, and Stephen, 12, said: "I was nine when that photograph was taken. I remember it was a terrible moment in my life when I saw the bombs and all the fire around me. I never thought I could make it. I almost died many times.

"But it made me very strong inside. The most important lesson I learnt was how to forgive."

And she has now launched the Kim Phuc Foundation International for healing children of war.

The Butterfly Ball raises funds for a range of causes, including Children Victims of War, KEQMS, Donna's Dream House and the Butterfly and Phoenix projects.