NHS Charities Together ‘Forever Holding Hands’ fundraising campaign launched

An image based on the moving photograph ‘Forever Holding Hands’ which formed part of the National Portrait Gallery’s  Hold Still exhibition is to raise funds for NHS Charities Together.

The granddaughter of an elderly couple who spent their last days holding hands in hospital after contracting Covid 19, commissioned Worthing artists Stella and Gem Stevens  to recreate the photo in the colourful style, depicting the fun side of her much missed grandparents.

The artists from Worthing, moved by the heart-breaking story, offered to paint the image for free suggesting an opportunity to raise funds for the NHS who cared for them in their last days.

NHS Charities Together will use some of the funds to purchase electronic tablets to enable vulnerable patients, families and carers to connect with one another, plus provide bereavement support for families who lost loved ones; and counselling for staff to protect their mental health.

The artists behind the painting have joined with the granddaughter who took the moving photograph – Hayley Evans, to create a donations page where people can give to the Holding Hands – Urgent Appeal for NHS Charities Together. Hayley said “We were so lucky that we could Facetime my grandparents when they were in hospital and they said how comforting it was to see us. However we know many people are not able to and feel so isolated. Some of the donations to the Appeal will go towards the purchase of electronic tablets which will help others less fortunate. I saw my grandparents once in hospital, which is when I took the photograph through a visor. It was the last time I ever saw them”.

The heart-breaking story behind the image

The couple – Pat and Ron Wood aged 91 and 94, had spent 71 years together had been admitted into Worthing Hospital a few days apart with Covid 19 and were originally nursed separately. After realising the couple’s health situation, the kind nursing staff moved their beds together so they could hold hands. Pat sadly died in her sleep and Ron died five days later.

The moving photo was submitted along with over 31,000 others to the National Portrait Gallery to capture the spirit of the UK during the first national lockdown. The photograph called ‘’Forever Holding Hands” was one of the 100 final images selected by the judges and forms part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Hold Still online exhibition.

Granddaughter Hayley Evans approached the identical twin artists – Two Faced Twins, Stella and Gem Stevens as she loved their colourful style, The artists originally quoted a price for reproducing the photograph as art, but the next day rang Hayley to say they would do it for free as they saw it could be an opportunity to raise funds for the NHS who cared for the elderly couple in their last days.

Working with a friend, they researched the various needs of the NHS and found the perfect cause to raise funds for and set up a Collection Pot for donating on line.

A print of the original art will be given to Hayley, with the original – which they framed in a platinum colour to represent the couple’s recent platinum wedding anniversary, being presented to Worthing Hospital where Ron and Pat were cared for.

Hayley said “The photo depicts my grandparents love for each other right up to the end. To think it will lead indirectly to bringing comfort and support to others through the fund raising appeal is more than my family and I could ever hope for”.

The artists want the image to pay tribute not only to the couple who lost their lives but to the 100,000 plus lives that have been lost due to covid 19.

To donate to Holding Hands – Urgent Appeal go to: Collection Pot Holding-Hands

Media Contact: Lisa Carmel lisa@carmelmedia.co.uk

Artists: Stella and Gem Stevens, Two Faced Twins www.twofacedtwins.com

NHS Charities Together: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/covid19urgentappealqas/