She made people smile and laugh and she was just a person you were proud to call your daughter.
Those were the words of dad Nick Gazzard, whose 20-year-old daughter Hollie was killed in Gloucester last month.
Nick, Hollie’s mum Mandy and big sister Chloe have spoken publicly for the first time since her death.
The 49-year-old former Cheltenham Town footballer said:
For me, I was just proud of how popular she was and how she made people smile and laugh. She was just a person you were proud to call your daughter.
The devastated Churchdown family have been overwhelmed at the number of tributes paid to beautiful and petite Hollie, who made a huge mark in her short life. Their kitchen table lies full of cards and flowers from well-wishers shocked and saddened by her death.
The pretty young woman was known for having a fantastic and unique style, which made her stand out from the crowd.
Nick and Mandy, 46, said Hollie was a “whirlwind” from birth and quieter than Chloe, now 23.
Mandy said Hollie was born a month early and weighed just 5lb 4oz. She said:
We were still out of hospital the next day. I think she just couldn’t wait to come into the world. She was everywhere when she was younger. She would just climb on everything. Chloe would be sat there quietly but we would always be asking ‘where’s Hollie?’ – you just couldn’t keep up with her. She was a bit of a tomboy. She was really happy. As sisters they both had such different personalities.
During her time at Churchdown Parton Manor infant and junior schools, Hollie loved sport and tried everything from football, tag rugby, horse riding, athletics and cross country. She was a Manchester United football fan and visited the Old Trafford ground with Nick.
But when she started at Chosen Hill secondary school she found her girly side.
It was quite a watershed then. She turned from a tomboy into a young lady. She was still very sporty but friendly, outgoing and just had loads of friends. When she went to secondary school, she started to take more notice of herself in terms of looks and how she portrayed herself to other people. Her appearance was everything to her and the way she acted. She liked people to like her but was always one to stand up to people. She stood up to bullies quite a few times and because she was quick she could put them down.
Chloe said despite the girls’ differing personalities, and the usual sisterly arguments, they grew to become best friends and Hollie was even with her at the birth of her daughter Ruby, now two. As an auntie she was absolutely fantastic. She watched Ruby come into the world – she was adamant she wanted to. She had just started to watch Ruby grow up and to interact with her so well. When I was pregnant we started to really get on well and do things together and then as soon as I had Ruby, we became best friends.
Hollie’s style, flair and creativity led her to become a hairdresser, training in Reflections Academy, before working in a salon in Edgware in London and then to Fringe Benefits in Gloucester. A stint on a cruise ship did not last as Hollie became homesick and wanted to move back.
She would wear bright colours. She was always very vibrant and would have her own way. She was unique.
Nick added: “Her appearance was everything to her but she didn’t care what people thought about her in that way. She would do what she wanted to do. She was a really strong person and had that feisty side to her. You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her in an argument. She was very witty. She would always have a one-liner come back and it was very difficult to get anything over her.”
And Hollie’s charm always went down a storm when she was working in the King Teddy pub in Longlevens and Zest in the city, where customers and staff have fond memories of her.
But Hollie was also very ambitious and had plans to open up a salon of her own, with Chloe – a trained make-up artist – and another friend. Her family hoped it would have come to fruition in the next two years.
Hollie was killed at Fringe Benefits and La Bella Beauty salon on February 18.
For the family, still coming to terms with her death, her laugh and noise are missed at home.
Her mum said:
She had a sense of humour, you miss that. When she came in she would always tell us something that had happened that day. There was never a dull moment.
Nick describes her as a magnet, while Chloe said she would never forget her sister’s “wicked laugh” and quick wit.
Her parents, who have been married for 25 years, said it was little Ruby and Chloe who kept them going during the past two heartbreaking weeks.
Chloe’s partner Lucas Phillpotts has been a rock for the family.
Nick said: “A lot of it is remembering the 20 years we did have with Hollie. We’re trying to think of all the good times we did have and the positive things.”
Mandy added: “It is the only way we can think at the moment, we have to draw on the positives and the memories. She did an awful lot in her little life.”