Powerful portraits of a Bristol pharmacist and hospital porter from who have served on the NHS front line throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, have been captured by acclaimed photographer Rankin, as part of collection unveiled today to celebrate the NHS anniversary.
Ade Williams, Superintendent Pharmacist from Bedminster and Ali Abdi a Porter at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust were selected to be photographed for the collection, which will be showcased at local bus stops, roadside billboards as well as iconic pedestrian areas including the world-famous Piccadilly Lights in central London this week to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
In a mark of respect and thanks to the NHS, the renowned photographer, who has previously shot the Rolling Stones, Kate Moss and the Queen, offered to take portraits of 12 people across the country playing a vital role in the NHS response to COVID-19.
British photographer, director and cultural provocateur, Rankin, 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.”
Elizabeth O’Mahony, South West Regional Director NHS England and NHS Improvement said:
“This has been the most challenging year in the NHS’s history, and as we approach the NHS’s anniversary, these striking portraits pay tribute to our dedicated staff. The anniversary taking place on the weekend of 5th July is a chance to say thank you to those from all walks of life who have played their part in helping the NHS and our communities deal with this unprecedented health emergency.”
Ade Williams, Superintendent Pharmacist, Bedminster said:
“The shoot was really fun and what I liked the most is that you could tell it meant a lot to
Rankin, that he really wanted to use his lens to tell our stories through the pictures.”
Ali Abdi, Porter, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust:
“I feel so extremely proud to have been photographed on behalf of my team and to represent the role of the porter across the NHS.”
Julia Ross, Joint Healthier Together Lead Executive and Chief Executive of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“I’m so proud that Ade and Ali feature as part of this anniversary collection from Rankin. The NHS is defined by its people, and the portraits are a great way to celebrate them.
Coronavirus has presented a huge challenge this year, yet our communities have responded with strength and kindness. We want to thank everyone in our area for their support, and to our health and care staff for the skill and dedication they show every day.”
Alongside their portrait, Ali and Ade have shared their own personal stories from the frontline, providing a unique and touching insight into the lives of the people who are battling this pandemic and saving lives.
The participants have been photographed unhidden by PPE to reveal the people behind the masks and celebrate the individuals they are.
All portraits are being donated by Rankin to the NHS as an ongoing legacy for years to come. Advertising space to display the portraits has also been donated.
The full selection of portraits and their stories can be found here: www.england.nhs.uk/rankin
Portraits include an ICU consultant, a COVID-19 critical care nurse, a midwife, a general adult psychiatrist, a hospital porter, a COVID-19 ward cleaner, a paramedic, a GP, a pharmacist, a district nurse, a 111 call centre worker, and a chief information officer.
My mum was a single mother with four kids. One thing she instilled in us was the need to live our lives beyond our own comforts and look at how we can support other people. She was unflinching in this belief, and it made me want to have a career that helped my community—those lessons, coupled with my faith, anchor all I do.
I moved to the U.K. 23 years ago from Nigeria and lived with my aunt, a nurse in Brighton. I was just a teenager, yet utterly awestruck at how the NHS functioned. Unsurprisingly when I was old enough, I jumped at the chance to study pharmacy.
Since then, I’ve lived all over the country but have now settled in Bristol providing clinical care as a community pharmacist, alongside working at a GP practice and advising on the board of a local hospital. In an average day, you will get to see so many different types of people who rely on your help – each with their own unique needs and challenges. I am continually thinking about how I can best tailor the support I provide them. Clinical knowledge is essential – but it’s certainly more important to take the time to talk to each person, to understand what they are going through. Those connections make all the difference and bring colour to your life.
In our team, working alongside my wife, also a pharmacist, we all share the belief that health inequality is a form of injustice. We literally have it written on our wall! Our goal every day is to help address this – which means there is never a dull moment. That is what gets me up in the morning. That, and my four-year-old son who is very much into drumming at the moment! Our community provides an inspiring backdrop.
I pray that we can emerge from this pandemic with a more generous and equal society. We owe it to our patients, to those that have lost loved ones and for colleagues that have paid the ultimate price, to build a legacy that breaks down barriers and brings us all closer. We have faced a common fear, so now, we must together embrace kindness and hope to build a better future.
I honestly couldn’t tell you how many miles I must have walked around my hospital helping patients, transferring medicines or carrying specialist equipment. As a porter, it’s my job to make sure the right people get to the right place at the right time. Every day is different, and you are never in one place for long.
All the excitement and adrenaline mean it’s hard to switch off. Even at the weekends I like to keep active and ride my bike – but in the back of my head I’m always thinking ‘when can I get back to work and help the team?’
My wife is a carer and my daughter is a nurse, so you could definitely say looking after people runs in the family! They are the most important people in my life. We are fortunate to have and to be able to understand each other. Having someone to talk to at the end of the day can be great motivation to carry on.
Even though I work 12-hour shifts the day goes so fast. My favourite part is talking to patients and helping them feel at home. It’s even more important at the moment in this new world we live in. All our jobs have become more difficult and we have to take extra special care to look after our patients, ourselves and each other. Hospitals can be an intimidating place to come to even in calmer times, so having someone to navigate it alongside you can bring a lot of comfort.
Sometimes it can feel like everything has changed and gotten much harder. It’s a difficult time but we are pulling together as a team. Everyone is pushing themselves and doing an amazing job. I couldn’t be prouder of them all.
That’s probably why, even after 15 years I still love and would recommend my job. The NHS has a way of attracting so many different people from all walks of life – and make them all feel they belong.
Photos were taken across four UK locations with reduced crew. The shoot incorporated social distancing measures in accordance with NHS and government guidelines.
Please note images must not be cropped or altered in anyway.