Posted: 29.06.20 at 15:53 by The Editor
A CLEANER on Leighton Hospital's COVID ward features in a set of photographs taken by celebrity snapper Rankin marking the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
Laura Arrowsmith, who lives in Crewe, says she was bursting with pride when she was chosen to be photographed for the series highlighting 12 frontline NHS staff who have helped during the pandemic.
As well as her vital work ensuring the ward's hygiene and cleanliness are maintained at a very high standard, Laura has taken it upon herself to pick up personal items for patients. She says she has enjoyed talking to patients, particularly those who have been struggling with technology so that they can keep in touch with their loved ones.
Laura said: "Growing up in Crewe made me realise the importance of playing a part in my community. We can’t allow as many visitors and not everyone has the technology to keep in touch with loved ones, so I try to help by bringing patients a little piece of the outside world.
"I’ve been cycling a lot during the pandemic, so I get out on my bike and whizz around to pick things up for patients – even if it’s just a picture to have by their bed.
"I’ve always liked to talk to the patients and find out more about them. I’ll always remember a mum of two who was on the COVID ward. She didn’t want her kids to see her looking so unwell so I brought their photos and cards to her instead. After she became better, she said to me that seeing their faces helped her survive her hardest days, giving her something to live for."
Mother-of-two Laura recalls the heartbreak of seeing a much-loved porter at Leighton taken in for treatment on the COVID ward. He sadly passed away from the illness and she says his death has brought the hospital team closer together.
"I remember walking onto the ward one day, seeing him and saying, ‘What are you doing up that end?’. We still managed to share a joke and a smile together, but it was really hard. After he passed, the funeral directors brought the car around and we all stood out for him and gathered memories to share with his wife."
Laura's photograph along with 11 other NHS heroes will be showcased at local bus stops,
roadside billboards as well as iconic pedestrian areas including the Piccadilly Lights in London this week ahead of the anniversary on Sunday, July 5 when people will be encouraged to applaud the heroes of the pandemic.
The evening before people are being be asked to put a light in their windows in remembrance of all those lives lost to the pandemic.
Among his celebrity portfolio Rankin, real name John Rankin Waddell, has shot the Rolling Stones, Kate Moss and the Queen. But he worked as a hospital porter when he was in his 20s and as a mark of respect and thanks to the NHS offered to take the portraits of those playing a vital role during the crisis.
He said: “As the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold I was moved by the incredible efforts of
people across the NHS and I wanted to document who they are and their role in fighting this disease.
"Taking a portrait is a unique and intimate experience, even with social distancing in place. Everyone had their own inspiring story which to them was just doing their job. I hope these images portray the resilience and courage they show every day in the face of real adversity.”
Laura added: "I felt so proud to have my photograph taken on behalf of Leighton Hospital, and to represent Crewe. We are one big team here and everyone is playing their part and I feel I’m just doing my job as best I can. The night before I was like a kid on Christmas Eve and when I was there it was a real wow moment."
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “As we approach the NHS’s anniversary these striking portraits pay tribute to all NHS staff and their extraordinary dedication."