At 18:51 on 18th February 2014 20 year old hairdresser Hollie Gazzard was stabbed to death by her ex boyfriend at her place of work in full view of her colleagues right in the centre of the city of Gloucester.
Five years on her murder still haunts the city and her family as they try and come to terms with their loss. Hollie had ended her relationship with her ex partner only three days before and it was revealed afterwards that it had been one of violence, abusive behaviour and coercive control.
, In April 2014, Hollie’s father Nick, her mother Mandy and sister Chloe formed the Hollie Gazzard Trust, a charity set up to support and give others the opportunity she was fortunate to have whilst raising awareness of the dangers of stalking, knife crime and abusive relationships. Nick Gazzard, The founder of the trust and explained: “We did not want Hollie to fade away. She was too vivacious, determined and popular for that. Therefore, a couple of weeks after Hollie was murdered, we decided that we wanted to help support young people in the areas that affected Hollie. The trust was established on the 23 April 2014.
“We have supported many young creative people at Gloucestershire College across hairdressing and barbering. We would love to support more individuals as the trust grows”. The trust has had a link with Gloucestershire College since it began; it also continues to work with other charities, they have included Gloucester based Increase the Peace, who do so much work to help reduce knife crime and anti social behaviour within the Gloucester community as well as GDASS, the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service. The Hollie Gazzard Trust funds a young person’s coordinator, as Nick explains “It is so important that we provide the help and guidance to young people who are suffering from abuse or unhealthy relationships.”
Since its inception five years ago the trust has gone onto also achieve things on a national scale, with the help of local politicians, Alex Chalk MP and Richard Graham MP the stalking laws and sentences for this crime have changed with an increase in sentencing doubled from 5 to 10 years. An app has been created in Hollies name called Hollie Guard, this has had acclaim from across the country from police forces to large businesses looking to protect its staff to individuals who have been affected by abusive relationships and stalking. It was also highly commended in Parliament at the end of 2018. HollieGuard is available on both Apple and Android operating systems: For more information please visit the website www.hollieguard.com
“Hollie Guard was established in October 2015 and now has nearly 30,000 downloads,” Nick said. “There are a variety of police forces that recommend the App including Cleveland, Guernsey, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Avon & Somerset, South Wales, Wiltshire, West Midlands, Metropolitan, and Kent. There are also others that use it.
“It was also recently cited by TV presenter Alex Lovell who had downloaded the app and was stalked herself. Her stalker has now been jailed.”
Nick Gazzard set up Nick Gazzard Consulting Ltd (NGC) in 2015 as an arm of the trust that allows him to go and spread the message of the organisation: “NGC administers the trust’s personal safety App, Hollie Guard and offers a number of training workshops to a variety of entities including: ‘Working Without Fear’ which can be delivered to businesses, colleges, universities and various constabularies. We also offer Stalking workshops to Agencies and businesses, colleges and universities, various constabularies, Coercive Control workshops to schools as well as providing them with information and talks on Healthy Relationships. We are currently working on lone worker and cyber stalking workshops.
“One conference in Dorset was to 700 professionals and over the summer of 2018 we delivered to over 700 students on the National Citizenship Scheme”.
The Hollie Gazzard Trust continues to grow and Nick would like to see it become a national charity. He said: “Hollie was a determined individual and we are determined to help young people live happy and safe lives.
“I would like HGT to continue to support young people. We want to continue to work with universities on ground breaking projects such as the current Bystander Intervention in Football and Sport that we are involved with Exeter University and working with Public Health England across the South West. If we could build the trust to have a standing in the International community that would be fantastic.”
Although the trust is a legacy of that horrible day Nick is sure that it has brought positive results and has not forgotten the charities roots in Gloucester.
“The positive support that we had from the whole community stands out for us. The generosity of individuals is very humbling. The Summer Hollieday held outside the Salon was a highlight especially as the funds raised paid for the bench that now stands proudly outside the salon for individuals to remember Hollie. The people of Gloucester and the surrounding areas have done so much and continue to do so. Like us they have not forgotten Hollie, she was a part the community and of so many people’s lives.
“A massive thank you to everyone who has donated or helped the Trust during the last five years. But, we continue like all charities to need their support.
“We will never know how many young people’s lives this has affected in a positive way because a lot of work we do is preventative. However, I am sure from the feedback that we have that it is many thousands.”