An actress and disability activist from Ledbury has spoken about the “stares and glares” she gets from strangers.

Melissa Johns is a familiar face on TV, having starred in shows including Grantchester, The Interceptor, Coronation Street and Life.

But people stare at her in the street because she is missing her right forearm and hand.

Johns wrote on Twitter that this leaves her with a feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“I actually don’t mind people doing a double-take or catching their eye,” she said. “It’s the stares, the whisper to their mates, the glares that feel like they’re going on for hours.

“Anybody with a disability or body difference will know this feeling.”

Johns, who performed with LADS when she was younger and went to John Masefield High School, has had people look straight past her and ask her fiance ‘has it never bothered you?’.

And while on holiday in Cape Verde, one man even kissed her arm, leading Johns to ask him ‘do you think it’ll grow back now?’.

“It makes sense that it happens more on holiday because I’m wearing a lot less clothing. But it doesn’t make it ok,” she said.

“My mum said people have been doing things like this since the day I was born - people would stop the pram to have a look at the baby with one arm.

“I can sort of understand it happening in 1990 but not in 2024. I get asked what the worst part about being disabled is, and the answer is - and always will be - other people."

Johns, who is an ambassador for the charity Reach, which helps people with upper limb differences, added: “I don’t think it’s ok to ask ‘what happened’ but I encourage people not to ignore it.

“I don’t get angry. I don’t tell them off or lecture them. But I do hopefully leave them with something that deepens their understanding and might just change their attitude a tiny bit.”

Johns can currently be seen on TV in season eight of Grantchester, which started on ITV last Thursday.