Royal Corner

Hold Still's Emotional Release

The Duchess of Cambridge launches her long-awaited gallery, Hold Still, which is guaranteed to make you cry.


SEPTEMBER 14th, 2020

Where's Grandpa - One of the images picked to feature in the gallery. - © RONI LIYANAGE

T

he Duchess of Cambridge has unveiled her Hold Still exhibition, which sees 100 photographs capture a ‘snapshot of life during lockdown’. The collection of images also received royal approval from the Queen, who released a statement saying she had been “inspired to see how the photographs have captured the resilience of the British people at such a challenging time.”

Hold Still - © NPG

The exhibition launched online through the National Portrait Gallery, having been chosen by the judges – The Duchess of Cambridge, Nicholas Cullinan, Lemn Sissay MBE, Ruth May and Maryan Wahid. Over 31,000 photographs were submitted, with the Duchess saying how overwhelmed she had been at the reaction to the initiative.

Fans flooded to the website to see the collection of images, with many being left emotional by the moving stories behind the photographs.

The Duchess hoped the gallery would “capture and document the spirit, the mood, the hopes, the fears and the feelings of the nation” – and she seems to have successfully done just that.

Take a look at just a sample of the stunning images featured:


Gimba - Hassan Akkad

Gimba, a ward nurse tucks into her lunch - © Hassan Akkad


"During the peak of the pandemic, I signed up to work as a cleaner in a Covid-19 ward at my local hospital, Whipps Cross. Within days, Gimba, our ward host, called me ‘my son’; I noticed she loved eating rice. Gimba migrated from Nigeria to Britain and has been working at the hospital for over a decade, commuting for 2 hours to get to work. On the day the photograph was taken, Gimba had received the terrible news from Nigeria that her mother had fallen ill and had been rushed to hospital.

"Gimba cried all day and was heartbroken that she couldn’t fly home to see her mother and look after her because of travel restrictions during the pandemic. She declined to take any time off, saying: 'I have to feed my patients’. I took this photo while Gimba was having lunch in the staff room, after having prepared meals for all eighteen COVID-19 patients in our ward. She was having chicken and rice."



Glass Kisses - Steph James

© Steph James


"My 1-year-old little boy and his 88-year-old great grandma, who miss each other so much at the moment. I captured this beautiful moment between them whilst dropping off groceries. Kisses through glass."



This Is What Broken Looks Like - Ceri Hayles

© Ceri Hayles


"This is what broken looks like. This is operating for 3 hours in full PPE. This is dehydration. This is masks that make your ears bleed because the straps have slipped and you daren't touch them. This is fighting an invisible enemy that becomes more visible each day.

"This is a face I never thought I'd show the world, but one which I wear more and more. I took this photo to have as a reminder of how far I’d been capable of pushing myself when I needed to. I sent it to my family to tell them what a hard day it had been and they were all so shocked by it. The person they know as being so well put together, always wearing a smile, was not the person they saw that day.

"Looking back on it now, I feel immensely proud of the commitment shown by myself and my colleagues to provide safe care for patients, even in the depths of a pandemic. We still wear full PPE for all of our cases, and you never get used to it, but I know we’ll keep doing it for as long as it is needed."



The First Kiss - Ali Harris and Leigh Harris

© Ali Harris and Leigh Harris


"This is the moment that our third baby boy came into the world, in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by medical staff in full PPE, and the first thing he did was try to give his mummy a kiss through the protective screening and Mummy's mask.

"This beautiful moment was captured by Daddy, Leigh, and it was love at first sight for all of us and we have been besotted ever since. Despite everything going on in the world, children and babies in particular have a way of keeping us grounded and focused (most of the time!) and we are so proud to have brought a new life into the world during the height of this pandemic."



Home-Schooling Going Great - Ania Wilk-Lawton

© Ania Wilk-Lawton


"Trying to work and home-school when you have a 3-year-old and an 11-year-old is an exercise in tuning out the noise. One might say - ‘Let it go…' Taken in our home, at the multitasking table."



Without Help, Without Hope - Lisa Lawley

© Lisa Lawley


"A raw picture of the hopelessness and desperation I feel during this lockdown, as a shielded person with leukaemia. COVID-19 has taken far more from me than leukaemia has. Stuck on statutory sick pay, facing losing everything I worked hard for, gets too much sometimes. I was training to be a pharmacy dispenser before the lockdown began and had taken less than a week’s sick leave from work during and after my diagnosis.

"Then COVID-19 struck and having to shield cost me everything I had worked hard for. I know this is not a positive photograph, but it is reality for many people in my situation. It is my new normal and I felt compelled to photograph myself in that moment, perhaps so that someone would see me."



Forever Holding Hands - Hayley Evans

© Hayley Evans


"My grandparents, Pat and Ron Wood, were married 71 years ago on St George’s Day. In May 2020 they were admitted a week apart to the Covid ward at Worthing Hospital. At first they were nursed separately, but were soon reunited. Kind staff pushed their beds together and gave them their own room. They spent their final days exactly where they were meant to be and exactly how they had spent the last 71 years… together. Pat passed away in her sleep, lying next to her dear Ron and he followed her five days later. Together, forever holding hands.

"They appreciated the tiny things and took nothing for granted. The ability to touch when they had so little left was a gift. It was the only way to show their love and devotion. I took this photo with gloved hands looking through a visor. It gives me so much comfort to know, in a world where we have to distance ourselves from each other that they had everything they ever wanted in the palm of their hands. This was the last time I saw them."



Be Safe Daddy X - Ceri A. Edwards

© Ceri A. Edwards


"This picture was originally a piece of work set for our daughter during lockdown. Poppy struggled with her dad having to go to work, as a paramedic throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and she worried about him each time he left to go to work. Poppy loves a cuddle and this happened to be a special moment between them just before my husband left to go on a night shift."



We're Really Lucky To Have a Garden - Robert Coyle

© Robert Coyle


"The weekend is here, lockdown continues and Bernadette and Francis enjoy the garden. One Friday, as I finished emailing at the kitchen table, my wife had taken a chair and a drink outside to enjoy the evening sun. We were doing our best, like the rest of the country, with work, childcare and news of daily death tolls. Our son, had taken to relieving himself on the plants, much to our initial amusement and then slight frustration."



Thank You - Wendy Huson

© Wendy Huson


"Our little girl, Amelia, has Down’s Syndrome and raises a lot of positive awareness on social media under Amelia May Changing Attitudes. On the 12 May 2020 I (mummy) made Amelia a very simple nurses outfit and then took the picture in our kitchen to celebrate International Nurses Day. Amelia's aunty and cousin (mother and daughter) are both amazing nurses and Amelia has seen a lot of nurses in her short life.

"Therefore we wanted to put a special post on her social media accounts recognising International Nurses Day and thanking all of the nurses for the amazing work they do every day and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic (throughout which Amelia has been shielding).

"A couple of Amelia’s followers on her Facebook page suggested that we submit the photo to the Hold Still 2020 project which we did. We had no idea that such an innocent photo would be picked out of so many to be included in an exhibition that will go down in history. This is amazing for us and the Down’s Syndrome Community."



School - Marcela

© Marcela


"During lockdown, my mum had to become a primary school teacher for my brother. This moment captures one of the few times my brother was eager to do his homework. Through this photograph, I wanted to convey a warm feeling of when family is together."



Captain Tom Moore - Terry Harris

© Terry Harris


"Captain Sir Thomas Moore completed 100 lengths of his garden before his 100th birthday to raise money for NHS charities. Having captured the public imagination, the total he eventually raised was over £32m. In recognition of his achievement, Moore was given the honorary title of colonel on his birthday and was awarded a knighthood by Her Majesty The Queen, which was bestowed on him at a special outdoor ceremony in the grounds of Windsor Castle in July 2020."


To see the full exhibition, visit the NPG website here.

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