A 48-year-old Cub Scout leader and mother-of-two from Cornwall is being credited tonight with calming down the men responsible for a suspected terror attack in Woolwich, South East London, that left one soldier dead.
A photo making the rounds earlier showed Loyau-Kennett confronting one of the two attackers in the immediate aftermath of the gruesome beheading of a British solider, believed to be motivated by religious extremism.
"And then when I went up there was this black guy with a revolver and a kitchen knife, he had what looked like butcher’s tools and he had a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives and he said 'move off the body," she said. "So I thought 'OK, I don’t know what is going on here’ and he was covered with blood. I thought I had better start talking to him before he starts attacking somebody else. I thought these people usually have a message so I said 'what do you want?'"
Loyau-Kennett says the man confessed to the soldier's slaying, and then declared, "I killed him because he killed Muslims."
Despite earlier reports that the men were possibly drunk or on drugs, Loyau-Kennett says the man she spoke with was neither. "He was in full control of his decisions and ready to everything he wanted to do," she told the Telegraph.
"We want to start a war in London tonight," Loyau-Kennett recalled one of the men saying.
She kept both of them talking by trying to persuade them to hand over their weapons, and distracting them from the fact that they were slowly being surrounded by police.
The two were subsequently shot and taken into custody.
Former shadow counter terrorism minister Patrick Mercer praised the courage of Loyau-Kennett and other passers-by who shielded the soldier's body.
"This is courage of the highest order," he said. "It sounds as if these members of the public are not soldiers, not policemen, not people whose duties demand this, they are extremely courageous people and that courage deserves to be recognised at the highest level."