Stars appear with NHS staff in new Rankin exhibition

Comedian Michael Palin and England footballer Jordan Henderson are some of the famous faces appearing alongside NHS staff, patients, and volunteers in a new exhibition from Rankin and NHS Charities Together, celebrating 75 years of NHS charities.

Ahead of the NHS’s 75th anniversary on 5 July, ‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’ celebrates the vital role charities have played throughout health service history, and how their contribution has helped make the NHS what it is today. The exhibition will be displayed at the Saatchi gallery in London from 31 May to 11 June and is free to the public.

The exhibition features portraits of NHS staff, patients, volunteers and high-profile supporters from every nation and region of the UK – each of whom have a powerful personal connection to the impact and influence of NHS charities.

The stories include:

  • Dr Aziz Abdul from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust – an Afghan refugee separated from his mother aged five at gunpoint, who went on to become a specialist registrar on the frontline during the pandemic, and now advocates for trauma support funded by NHS Charities Together.
  • Beryl Fairclough, 76 – the brains behind Barnsley Hospital Charity’s fundraising dream team ‘the Sensational Six’, who use their unmatched knitting skills to raise thousands for new NHS equipment, facilities and services locally.
  • Stefan Edmondson, a consultant clinical scientist at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), who helped lead the reconstructive surgery for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai after she was shot in the head by the Taliban. The UHB team’s pioneering work is only possible thanks to 3D printers funded by UHB Charity.

Sir Michael Palin, the actor, comedian, and writer best known for his legendary Monty Python performances, took part to celebrate the work of the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering, part-funded by the Whittington Health Charity. He was photographed alongside Nafisat Ibrahim, 25, from London – a nurse whose childhood was significantly impacted by a stammer, who found her voice following treatment at the Centre.

Sir Michael Palin commented: “My father had quite a serious stammer and when he grew up no one was able to do anything about it. I think it would have changed his life immeasurably if he’d been able to have the treatment that the Michael Palin Centre now provide. I was born a little bit before the NHS started, but throughout my life it’s been an enormous support for me and my family. You take it a bit for granted so I think it’s good sometimes to remember it needs help. And I think the more people who can help out the better, because so many people have benefitted.”

England player, Liverpool captain and NHS Charities Together ambassador Jordan Henderson MBE had his portrait taken with warehouse worker Matt Kennard, surprising the lifelong Liverpool fan on set (both pictured).

Matt, 38, participated in More than Football, a mental health intervention funded by NHS Charities Together, Heads On (the official charity for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) and delivered by Albion in the Community (the official charity of Brighton & Hove Albion).

The project uses the power of football to prevent suicide and mental health crises amongst men at risk, and was one of over 325 community projects funded by NHS Charities Together’s COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

Matt said: “I’ve suffered from crippling anxiety for years so when I saw More Than Football advertised I just went for it. We’re a group of like-minded guys who have all suffered with our mental health but haven’t had the strength to talk about it. Now thanks to NHS Charities Together and Albion in the Community we have created a space where people feel open and safe enough to share – it’s just a way of getting men talking, but it really did turn my life around.”

Jordan added: “Hearing from Matt was incredible, and I know there are plenty of other people who have been helped like him. It’s important to highlight the amazing work that’s going on behind the scenes with NHS Charities Together, and the ultimate goal is to try to get as many eyes on their work as possible. NHS charities help in so many different areas – and in our communities as well as in hospitals. The more eyes on it the better, because more support ultimately can save lives.”

There are over 230 NHS charities in the UK, and together they help our health service go further than would be possible with government funding alone.

Rankin, who has photographed the likes of the Queen, David Bowie, Madonna and Kate Moss, adds: “The thing I’ve learned from all these people is how much of a massive contribution NHS charities make to the national health service. You don’t realise the scale of support that’s out there – they fund research and new technologies, accommodation and support for patients, and extra services so more of us can access better care. I used to work in the NHS but honestly had no idea, and it really has been eye opening.”

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “It’s been utterly inspiring meeting the people involved in this project and hearing their stories. NHS charities have been contributing to our health service since before its inception – and this project makes clear the phenomenal impact they have had and are still having today.

“75 years after the NHS was founded, charity support has never been more important, and with your help we can continue to help the NHS for generations to come. On 5 July, you can support the charity that means the most to you and celebrate 75 years of the NHS by hosting an NHS Big Tea party – where funds raised can help improve your local or specialist hospital, make your community healthier and literally save lives. We hope some of these stories show the astonishing impact one person’s generosity can have.”