'She would be proud' - Hairdresser of Kerri McAuley on honouring her legacy
- Credit: Danielle Booden
The former hairdresser of Kerri McAuley has opened up about the heartbreaking moment the mum poured her heart out to her just weeks before her murder.
Annie Reilly, of Beaconsfield in Norwich, regularly saw Ms McAuley for hair appointments before her tragic death in January 2017 and has fought tirelessly to preserve her legacy ever since.
Alongside friends Christen and Tabby she founded the #CutItOut campaign, which calls for people in the beauty profession to be trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse - and has recently formed partnerships with Northamptonshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police.
And now she has told how her relationship with Ms McAuley - and her final appointment with her - was the heartrending moment of inspiration for the ever-growing campaign.
She said: "Kerri was this beautiful, smiling, happy-go-lucky, woman and until the photograph of her with bruises went on Facebook I never really knew she was a victim.
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"But that night I saw her for the last time it was horrifying. To see her face so disappointed and her so frightened for her life was heartbreaking. I saw a huge change in her.
"I saw her for an hour's appointment and she told me how he was stalking her around and all her fears. She basically collapsed into my arms."
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Just a few weeks later she received the news she had been dreading - that Joe Storey had killed her.
It was from this point, Miss Reilly was determined to stand alongside those who fought to keep Ms McAuley's legacy alive and the campaign grew from there.
Since Ms McAuley's death, Miss Reilly, who has grown close to the McAuley family, has become a tireless campaigner against domestic abuse and has shared further experiences of encountering the signs in the profession.
She said: "One girl came in who was ordinarily happy-go-lucky, like Kerri, but I noticed her real drop in her confidence. Once she sat in the chair I noticed she had a bite mark on her ear.
"I asked if she had any photographs and she told me she wasn't allowed a camera phone, but agreed for me to take some, which I passed on to the police.
"Another time somebody came in and as soon as I asked her how she was she started shaking. She opened up to me and showed me how her legs were black and blue.
"I contacted the police who went round to do a welfare check and caught her partner to rights.
"When you are a hairdresser or beauty therapist, you do see people regularly, so get used to what they are like so can spot small changes - and people feel they can open up to you in ways they can't others."
Miss Reilly's campaign has already gathered pace, resulting in partnerships with police forces and colleges offering training to future beauticians and hairdressers on how to spot the signs of domestic abuse.
She recently appeared on ITV with Lorraine Kelly to discuss the campaign and has also had interest in it from overseas, in Germany and Spain.
And the 54-year-old said she was sure Ms McAuley would be a huge supporter of it if she was still around.
She added: "I think knowing Kerri she would be incredibly proud of what we are achieving.
"She was a very passionate person who would have given her last penny to the homeless, so she would be very proud of the difference that is being made in her memory and her legacy that lives on.
"So many people have worked incredibly hard to spread the message and I'm so proud that something so big has come from our little city.
"Covid has been a bit of a stopcock on it but we have still managed to hold a few get together on Zoom."
For more information on the campaign, search for the #CutItOut campaign on social media.