I enjoy painting peonies because they are beautiful and represent prosperity. But at this unprecedented time, there are more beautiful things in life - that's our frontline COVD - 19 heroes. That's why I decided to join Sky Portrait Artist Tom Croft's initiative #portraitsfornhsheroes to paint some portraits for free for them to capture their beautiful hearts and the courage they are showing in this pandemic.
When I showed this painting to the cardiology nurse K from University Hospital Birmingham Trust, she was over the moon! I have had great interactions with her during the painting process. She often works during the night. Despite the challenges she and her colleagues are facing during this pandemic, nurse K struck me as someone who is resolute positive, kind and very bubbly. Although she often works at night, she brings sunshine to the people around her. That's why I chose a sunny background for her!
She doesn't think she's a hero - for her she is just doing her job, but to people like you and me, she is like all of the other frontline workers - COVID-19 Heroes - as they risking their lives to help us, our communities and the United Kingdom. Although the portrait is of Nurse K it is like a war portrait, one individual who represents the best of humanity!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we will never forget you and all the others who are giving so much in this time of crisis.
This is my second free portrait for NHS heroes as a very small thank you for all they do.
It is a very touching story. It is an NHS couple - who together every day make a difference in peoples lives. It was actually their friend Barbara who nominated them as her own special gratitude for their friendship and all that they do.
Laura (in black scrub) is a Palliative Medicine consultant working between the Leicester Royal Infirmary and LOROS Hospice. Tracey (in light grey scrub) is her partner and is a Counsellor at LOROS.
They care for patients with terminal and progressive illnesses, such as late stage cancer. One of the many challenges during COVID-19 is that the patients’ families cannot be with them during their final moments in our world. Laura, Tracey and many others like them become their families. Tracey comforted and held the hand of a patient as he took his last breaths. Laura helps patients to taste their favourite drink when they can’t swallow very well by putting it on a sponge and cleaning their mouth. They also work with families to help support them and create a family tree of the fingerprints of the patients and their families as a memory if this is something they want.
During the virtual sitting, we thought it was so important to show the warmth and love between them and of course their patients and their families. Their smiles radiate care and a deep appreciation of the joy of life.
Thank you Laura and Tracey. Thank you Barbara for sharing their story.
Dr Karen Oso is another of our NHS Heroes! She is originally from Edinburgh and is now a GP in a small town called Penicuik. Her love for her patients and her job is clear from our conversation. She is pleased with the good protective measures in place and is concerned about some of the shortages she hears about in other parts of the UK. She senses that the community has truly come together and is closer than ever. In the past, people would just greet each other but now even though they adhere to social distancing people stop and enquire that the everyone is ok - every life has value. I feel that same sense of concern for the well being of others in my neighbourhood as well. Hopefully, this sense of community will strengthen at all levels and across borders. This is my third portrait for NHS Heroes. It is my way of saying thank you.
When I interviewed Dr Preeti Arora from Manchester, it was her son's birthday. As a radiologist, she told me that the happiest thing during this pandemic is to see patients are getting better and better from the readings of the scans, day after day. I think that's what people like to hear and the hope people are longing for for so long. 🙏 We are all in it together and let's all get out of it together soon. Thank you Dr Arora, thank you all NHS Heroes.
My fifth portrait for NHS heroes. Annie is a community midwife in Yorkshire. She loves peonies as much as I do 😊🌸. When she sent me this photo of her holding a new born baby, I immediately wanted to paint it. It's so lovely and full of hope! Annie told me that the biggest challenge during the pandemic is to reassure mums and that they and the babies will be looked after. When the fathers and the families can't be at present, it's the midwives who are the closest to the mums. I hope you can feel the joy from Annie's eyes in the painting and I hope you can feel the joy fro the mother outside the painting.
Carry on with my portraits for NHS heroes. This is a portrait of Maria. Maria is originally from Manila and works as an Emergency Technician at A&E at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham. It took me a while to interview her as she is always busy, as you can expect from a key worker at A&E. When I met her online, her smile was very infectious and that's why I chose this photo of her to paint because I want everyone to see big smile! She told me that the toughest thing during the pandemic is the risks they are exposing as most patients come to A&E first, but the best thing happened because of COVID-19 is that a lot of people are now very grateful for what they are doing! That's also the reason I want to paint free portraits for our NHS heroes. Thank you Maria and all key workers!
A Team of Smiles
These lovely ladies with the warm and welcoming smiles are from the Children's Community Nursing Service from Guy's & St Thomas hospital. They have continued to work in the community throughout the pandemic. However, they have had to reimagine their roles and how they interact with each to ensure the vulnerable children and young people who count on them could do so even during this terrible catastrophe. When I met them during the virtual sitting, I could feel that they felt that they truly enjoy working together and supporting each other as a team The biggest challenge for all of them is the use of PPE as their facial expressions have been critical to comfort children - like many of their colleagues they have adapted and use their voices and eyes even more so to compensate for the lack of visibility of their smiles.
As my painting cannot capture their voices and only somewhat the sparkle of their eyes and loving smiles, I thought it was important not to show them hidden behind PPE - very fitting as they are literally on the front line!
Thank you ladies, thank you Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital, thank you NHS Heroes.