A FORMER model and founder of a vegan company has been speaking to North-East entrepreneurs about how years of homelessness and losing a leg helped her become a businesswoman.

Heather Mills, who was brought up in Washington, in Tyne and Wear, was speaking in front on 300 business leaders at a conference organised by the Entrepreneurs' Forum at Hilton Newcastle Gateshead.

The businesswoman, who runs vegan company VBites, has three manufacturing facilities in the North-East and runs the largest plant-based manufacturing operation in the world.

Speaking to other entrepreneurs about reaching business goals, scaling up and financing, she said: "If you're a true entrepreneur and get your family aligned with you, then you can have no fears to take that step that will make you successful. The limitation is always going to be cash flow, but we're going to make it happen.

"If I can stand here with one leg, you can stand here with two."

Speaking about her charity work, she added: "Money doesn't mean anything unless you're making a difference with it."

Other speakers included John Hays, of Sunderland-based Hays Travel and Benjamin Mee, who was depicted by Matt Damon in the film We Bought a Zoo.