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'Community is helping me to pick up the pieces'

GRATEFUL: Marianne Simons

A HAIRSTYLIST in Croydon, Surrey says her community has rallied to help her after she was left with just the shell of her respect and thriving hair salon by rioters who looted her business.

Marianne Simons was recovering from having a baby just over two weeks ago when heartless vandals ransacked her business, the Avant Garde Artiste Hair Salon on London road, west Croydon in the early hours of Tuesday (Aug 9) morning.

The thieves took off with packets of weave and other goods.

“They’ve taken all our tools, anything I work with like hairdryers, flat irons, everything we work with. My retail products and chemicals, colours and relaxers were taken,” Simons lamented.

She said only covered some of her goods when a kind customer saved some of it and brought it to her.

“One of my customers saw what was going on and came into my salon and made it look like she was a looter too! She put some stuff into a black bag and bought them to me.”

LOOTED: Mary-Ann's beloved salon attacked by rioters

She also thanked around 30 other customers, who have also come out to help her clean up.

Now in the process of getting back on her feet, Simons, considered a pillar in her community, she said she is struggling to now get help from her insurance.

“I feel hard done by, because I have had this shop for more than 11 years and I’ve never claimed nothing from no one, so it’s my first time and they (the insurance company) haven’t made it as easy as it could be, questioning everything I say and then questioning it all over again,” she said.

The salon was opened by the mayor of Croydon in 2009 and has won an array of accolades including being judged Croydon Business of the Year 2011.

Simon’s younger brother Ernest, a professional photographer, told the Voice how he decided to drive to his sister’s place of work after hearing about the riots, only to be met by a scene of young girls trawling the streets with that looked like goods from his sister’s salon.

“I saw girls walking past with bundles of hair and weave,” he fumed. “I saw the lights were on (in the salon) and everything was smashed up, the front windows were smashed and as I got out of my car. Some guys came up to me, basically telling me that they had ‘done’ the shop more or less. Marianne has been affected badly. I mean she just gave birth two weeks ago. It’s her business.

“Obviously a lot of stuff got stolen from the shop, so there is a loss of earnings that she has to cover. She also has six members of staff, it has affected everyone.”

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