Duchess of Cambridge thanks health worker for 'impactful' photo of life at height of pandemic

·3-min read

The Duchess of Cambridge has thanked a health worker for taking an impactful picture of life in a hospital during the pandemic.

Kate met specialist oncology pharmacist Joyce Duah on Tuesday as she launched her Hold Still photo exhibition.

Ms Duah's photo of two colleagues was one of 100 chosen to go on display across the country.

Wearing a face mask and a red ankle-length Alexander McQueen coat, the duchess, who was joined by her husband, told Ms Duah: "Thank you so much for the image. It had such an impact - it captured the moment, it was a look behind the scenes.

"The story of what you experienced is so important."

The pharmacist's image, called All In This Together, was taken at the height of the COVID-19 crisis and showed pharmacy technician colleagues Amelia Chowdhury, 34, and Dipal Samuel, 38, writing their names, smiley faces and love hearts on their disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) aprons.

Kate and a panel of judges selected 100 images from more than 31,000 entries for the Hold Still exhibition, which launched with the National Portrait Gallery in May and challenged the public to document life during lockdown.

The Queen said she was "inspired" to see "the resilience of the British people" shown through the project, which was led by the duchess.

Hold Still focused on three themes - Helpers And Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts Of Kindness - with the final 100 tackling subjects including family life in lockdown, the work of healthcare staff and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sitting together in the Princess Alice Gardens at London's St Bartholomew's Hospital, the three health workers told William and Kate how strongly they felt about the picture project.

Ms Samuel said: "It will go down in history. When children are doing history or biology, they can have these photographs of mum doing this.

"There were times when goggles were in short supply. We didn't have enough visors or goggles, so one day I had swimming goggles. It was so hot there was sweat filling up my swimming goggles."

William replied: "I love the ingenuity and thinking out of the box. Your eyeballs were literally swimming in swimming goggles."

The Cambridges also travelled to Waterloo in south London to view one of the 80 public exhibition sites across the country for the duchess' project, with the 100 photographs featured on billboards and outdoor poster sites over four weeks.

The couple met Sami Massalami Mohammed Elmassalami Ayad, a volunteer at a community food hub in Hackney, who featured in one of the portraits displayed at the site - Sami, by Grey Hutton.

The PhD student said: "I didn't even know it was being submitted by my colleague at the food hub so it came as a massive shock when I got a call from the National Portrait Gallery saying the duchess wanted to speak to me.

"She called me a few weeks ago and we had such a lovely conversation. She told me how she wanted to build a snapshot of how Britain was coping in the pandemic, but to show all sides of what people have gone through and are still going through."

The student told William that a colleague had submitted the picture without him knowing.

The duke laughed loudly and replied: "Oh, that's great! You didn't know at all? Love it. That's brilliant."

All 100 portraits will feature in a special exhibition hosted by the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from Friday. The digital exhibition can be viewed at npg.org.uk/holdstill