They call me Mumma McAuley - Murdered Norwich woman’s mum reveals how amazing friends of Kerri McAuley have supported her after tragedy
PUBLISHED: 06:30 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:46 17 July 2017
courtesy of McAuley family
It is a poignant revelation that evokes both sorrow and a smile.
For the remarkable response to the horrific murder of Kerri McAuley has left her mother feeling that she has lost a daughter but “gained a lot of daughters”.
Lesley McAuley has been overwhelmed by the amazing support she has received from friends of her daughter since she was beaten to death by her ex-partner Joe Storey.
She said: “They’ve just all been so supportive, they’ve been there for me. I just feel I’ve gained a lot of daughters.”
Storey’s brutal behaviour has shattered lives forever. But the aftermath has created an unbreakable bond between Ms McAuley’s friends and her devastated family.
Those friends have proved to be a tower of strength to Lesley and her family as they try to come to terms with the death of Kerri, 32, in January.
They have been there every day since her death and throughout the disturbing Norwich Crown Court trial of Storey, who was jailed for life last month after being convicted of murder.
Lesley, a mother-of-two and grandmother-of-two who has another grandchild on the way, said: “I’ve gained a lot of new daughters, They all call me Mumma McAuley.
“On Mother’s Day they arranged for us all to go to the beach and gave me a gift box and things like my daughter would’ve done.
“They’ve come round and supported me and done a pamper party. They’ve just all been there for me when I’ve needed them to be. It’s just amazing.
“I love them all. They’ve really helped me through this. I don’t think they realise how much but I do tell them.
“My daughter has brought all that love there between us all. It’s just amazing. I just feel so proud that in a life for 32 years how many people she has affected and they are still here, six months later.
“I knew a lot of the girls, they were my daughter’s friends and she’s known them from when she was nine or 10.
“Since I lost Kerri it’s like being a big family, an extended family.”
Friends of Ms McAuley have taken part in sky dives for domestic abuse charity Leeway while some have organised other fundraising events to raise money for charity and the family.
The kindness and support shown by Ms McAuley’s friends has been replicated elsewhere by others who, even if they do not know the family personally, have wanted to help.
Singing sensation Sam Smith is among those to have made contact with the family since.
Lesley said she was “such a big fan” of the London-born singer, who sent the family a touching card following Ms McAuley’s death.
Her brother Rory, who had a friend in the music industry linked to the singer, said it was “great” that he had gone out of his way to do that at what was such an awful time for the whole family.
He said: “It’s been a difficult time. Everyone has gone through different things at different times - everyone has struggled at times.
“It’s brought the family closer together. I’m here with my mum and the girls have come forward.”
A fundraising site was set up to raise money for the funeral of Ms McAuley in the days following her death.
It was initially hoped it would raise £5,000 to cover the costs of the funeral and headstone but in the end it broke through the £11,000 mark as hundreds of people pledged money.
Players and officials at Lowestoft Town Football Club, Rory’s current team, were among those to donate. The club has held collections and other tributes in memory of Ms McAuley.
He said: “I’ve even had a couple of cheques come through from my two former clubs, Dartford and Chelmsford City. Shortly after it happened they played each other and did a collection. It’s good that something good has come out of a bad situation.”
Lesley was so inundated with messages that she turned off her Facebook following the trial and has only recently started using her phone again.
She said: “I was quite shocked. When it was all going on I didn’t realise how much it had been on the TV and how much people knew.
“But we realised afterwards when people came up and spoke to you how many people it affected and how many people it’s helped.”
Since Ms McAuley’s death Lesley said the support shown to the family has helped her try to come to terms with the tragedy.. She added: “It made me realise how much Kerri was loved.”