Frontline nurses from The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust are to feature in a collection of photographs in aid of NHS Gift for heroes – an initiative founded by celebrity hairdresser, Adee Phelan.
With all portraits photographed on the same day that the very first COVID-19 vaccination was administered in 2020, this series of images, taken by world renowned photographer Rankin, focus on the unique stories of seven key workers from around the country.
As part of this collection, Adee Phelan also makes a personal appearance, holding one of his gift boxes in one frame and a sign in the other bearing the figure 650; a number that by the shooting date, represented the total NHS lives that have been lost to the virus.
Madina Redjai, Ward Sister, and Bincy James, Senior ITU Nurse, travelled down to London to take part in the project when it was safe to do so.
Madina said: “The shoot itself was very nerve wracking. I was laughing so much through the entire photo shoot because I was so nervous. Rankin is such a famous photographer, and he has photographed so many people, I thought it would be intimidating but Adee and Rankin did their best to put us at ease and make us comfortable.
“Preparing for the shoot was fun too. It was nice to get our hair and make-up done, and it was lovely meeting and talking to different people that day including the hairdressers and make-up artist.
“Remember that the NHS staff are still smiling, although patients cannot see with the masks and the PPE. It’s a shame but this exhibition is a nice reminder that we do still smile, just behind our masks!”
Bincy said: “Even though it has been incredibly stressful, I feel very happy and proud that I could do something for the public as part of the NHS. Adee came over to Liverpool as part of his fundraising program. I am really thankful for Adee Phelan’s hard work raising money to help the NHS staff. Through his charity fundraising projects he has undoubtedly helped members of the NHS and volunteers both practically and emotionally, so that we can continue with our vital life- saving work.”
Maddox Gallery are displaying a selection of the photographs in the windows of their Westbourne Grove gallery. Each photograph will have a QR code, which gives people admiring the photographs more information about the frontline staff featured.
Deputy Director of Nursing and Governance Lindsey Vlasman said: “We were honoured when Adee approached the hospital asking for nurses to photograph for the initiative. Our frontline staff have been working incredibly hard during the pandemic, caring for patients with COVID-19 and supporting the wider system during the waves of high cases. Adee’s care packages were well received and it’s excellent to see staff across the country celebrated in this way.”
Following the launch of Adee’s gift box initiative in 2020, he has since secured over £1.7 million in product donations and raised enough funds through a JustGiving page to both personally create and deliver over 23,556 gift boxes, which The Walton Centre benefited from during the height of the pandemic.
Adee commented: “Every time people get these boxes, these frontline warriors, the smiles on their faces are just unbelievable. We’ve hand delivered thousands of boxes to hospitals over the country and I want to keep it going. Things are still desperate, and they still need our help, so I’ve set up a new JustGiving page to raise funds for packaging and delivery and if you can help by donating, please do so”.
Maddox Gallery CEO, John Russo, also added: “Philanthropy has always been such an integral part of our ethos here at Maddox, so when we heard about the incredible work that Adee was doing with NHS Gift for Heroes, we were keen to support. Unfortunately, along with many galleries across the nation, all of our London locations were subject to forced closure during lockdown. To be able to re-purpose our Westbourne Grove gallery windows for this special project has not only been a pleasure, but also a source of inspiration to all involved”.
The gallery will be displaying the photographs from Saturday 20 March to Monday 5 April, but you can see them on their website www.maddoxgallery.com.