A powerful new book celebrates NHS heroes working in the Covid-19 pandemic

Anna Bonet
·2-min read
Photo credit: Emma Woollard
Photo credit: Emma Woollard

From Good Housekeeping

A new book published by Bloomsbury, Portraits for NHS Heroes, pays tribute to those working for the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic. Born out of an a campaign by artist Tom Croft, the coffee-table book is a collection of stunning portraits.

When the country first went into lockdown in March 2020, Oxford-based artist Tom wanted to do something for the people putting their own health on the line to protect others.

Photo credit: Alastair Adams
Photo credit: Alastair Adams

He decided to capture the heroism of the frontline workers by offering, via Instagram, to paint their portraits for free.

He was contacted Harriet Durkin, a nurse at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, who had caught and recovered from Covid-19 and was about to return to the frontline. Tom’s portrait of Harriet, wearing PPE, was the first in what became a national art project.

But Harriet wasn't the only one to get in touch. Rather, the response to Croft’s offer was so astonishing, he suggested other artists might want to do the same. Soon, artists and NHS workers from all over the country were being paired up by Tom and a dazzling array of portraits - some in oils, others in acrylics and watercolour - followed.

Photo credit: Mark Fennell
Photo credit: Mark Fennell

The book, out now, is a collection of just some of these paintings, including those from leading artists such as Alastair Adams and Mary Jane Ansell, and all royalties go to NHS Charities Together to help fund vital work.

"I just couldn't imagine what it must be like to have to put on your PPE and head into the frontline of the pandemic, so I wanted to try and thank NHS workers in some small way," Croft said.

"We are indebted to them, so to be able to commemorate, celebrate and record their experiences through portraiture felt fitting. This collection will stand as a permanent record of their bravery in a time of national crisis."


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Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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