Leighton Hospital cleaner photographer by Rankin for NHS anniversary collection

Photo: Rankin

A cleaner at Crewe's Leighton Hospital is amongst 12 frontline workers captured by acclaimed photographer Rankin.

Laura Arrowsmith, from Crewe, has served on the frontline throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

She was chosen to be photographed for the collection, which will be showcased at local bus stops and billboards to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. 

Alongside her photo, Laura has shared her own personal story, sharing her experience of what it has been like working during the pandemic.

She said: "I’m pleased, more than anything, that as part of my job I can be a friendly face for patients staying in the hospital.

"Growing up in Crewe made me realise the importance of playing a part in my community. In this situation 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. It means so much for friends and family to feel close, even when they can’t be.

"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. I’ve got two sons myself, and I could only imagine how she felt. 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.

"We’ve sadly lost a dear colleague to coronavirus at Leighton. Brian was a porter, who had been working there for years. I remember walking onto the ward one day, seeing him and saying, ‘Brian, 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. Our team has always been so great to one another, but Brian passing has made us closer than ever.

"It sounds silly but after a hard day, it’s TikTok that gets me laughing and smiling. I go on there, do a fun video for 15 minutes, and then I come off and think, ‘Right, I better get into parenting mode, do the tea, do the housework and look after my kids now.’ But that little bit of fun really keeps me going.”

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.” 

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “This has been the most challenging year in the NHS’s history, with our amazing staff providing care to almost 100,000 hospitalised Covid patients, and many more in the community.

"Nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists, cleaners and countless others have pulled together, bolstered by thousands of former NHS staff who came back to help, alongside a new generation of students who stepped up.

"As we approach the NHS’s anniversary, these striking portraits pay tribute to all NHS staff and their extraordinary dedication. 

"On July 5th we also want 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.”

A District Nurse from Stoke-on-Trent, Anne Roberts, has also been photographed for the collection. Read her story here

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