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  • Sophie Sheinwald

Behind the Mask - Kelly Anderson - Healthcare Worker

This is the third in a series of short posts featuring healthcare workers with their portraits taken by UK photographers for the 2020 Vision Project. Bringing to light the human story of healthcare workers who tirelessly worked through the intense period of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Here senior staff nurse Kelly Anderson tells us of her experience being thrust into a new role working nights in a pandemic – right after returning from maternity leave. Kelly works at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary NHS Trust and heard about the 2020 Vision Project from an update by portrait photographer Sarah Ferry. When Sarah heard Kelly's story, she said, "It was soon apparent that her children were what kept her going and so they became a key element of her portrait." ( Kelly Anderson photographed below by Sarah Ferry)


Staff Nurse Kelly Anderson


"After a long 12 years as an oncology nurse and 15 months off on maternity leave, I was ready to start a new job as a specialist nurse in the pre-assessment clinic. However, the week before I was due to start I had a phone call saying I'd been redeployed to the acute medical assessment unit to help fight the Covid-19 fight."

"I felt so anxious and overwhelmed especially as this meant working split night shifts for child care. I was anxious I'd be out of my depth and I worried about the impact/risk to my family. However, the anxiety and worry left me and the team spirit and shared goal of providing quality care and reassuring patients at this difficult time was all that mattered.


A 12-hour shift on minimal sleep wearing a mask was not easy, but the thing I found harder was seeing patients unwell in hospital, without family members - scared and alone. I found my years of oncology experience gave me all the skills to reassure and support them even with a masked face and other PPE on. All we tried to do was the best job we could for the people under our care."


Proud to be a Healthcare Worker

Throughout this project we have seen incredible strength, determination and upmost care. These are the values that run through with healthcare workers who have shared their stories wit us. Covid-19 mustered an intense drive to support one another to get through the overwhelming severity of this pandemic.

"I was so proud of the job I could do during such a high pressured and difficult time for the NHS, that my personal anxieties seemed like nothing."

I always felt safe and supported at work and always ensured I followed safety precautions when I went home to my family. My daughter knew not to come near mummy after work until I'd showered AGAIN and that mummy would strip her clothes at door – which she found hilarious. She also told people "Mummy needs a nap because she works all night looking after patients at the hospital and fighting the bug."

"My proudest moment was when she said 'Mummy I want to be a key worker like you when I grow up.'."


There was a quiet strength about Kelly


We were delighted to have Aberdeen portrait photographer Sarah Ferry on board the 2020 Vision Project and thrilled at how well she brought such a strong connection with Kelly through her camera lens. We asked Sarah to share her experience of meeting Kelly and being part of the 2020 Vision Project.


"There was a quiet strength about Kelly and when I look at her image I feel a lot of things that are hard to put into words… but if I had to summarise, it would be ‘Here is a woman who would care and look after me in hospital – I’d be in safe hands."


"To be able to contribute to this amazing project has been an honour and privilege."



" Becoming a part of 2020 Vision Project saved me from giving up photography entirely and I was able to focus on capturing images that represent a tribute to the NHS."





Being able to create in a completely different way has ignited my love with photography again. It was also very humbling to meet new people who were working day after day to help us during this frightening unprecedented time and continue to do so. Contributing was the very least I could do to say thank you."


Symbolism of Hands


"I had a few ideas for this project and the most difficult thing was deciding on one idea and running with it. I knew that it would involve a selection of images and the objective was to take a classical portrait along with something that meant a lot to the subject."


"I wanted to use hands as a theme that would run through all my portraits, so I called it ‘in the hands of the NHS’ I thought hands represented so many things: strength, power and protection, they care for you, they are hard-working, capable and expressive."


Sarah's work was exhibited in our London showcase exhibition in September 2021. We are planning more Behind the mask exhibitions as a tribute to these amazing people. Next up, we are working on live projections of selected portraits onto UK buildings.


Do follow us and stay tuned for more healthcare worker stories across the nation, through the eyes of talented portrait photographers.


The 2020 Vision Project

The ‘behind the mask’ 2020 Vision Project portraits, reflect our healthcare workers’ dedication, resilience, courage and teamwork throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We share the human story and over the coming weeks we will be highlighting more stories, as we work towards more exhibitions of these beautiful validating portraits. The 2020 Vision Project is a collective of talented UK portrait photographers and visual storytellers. Each share their creative vision towards a visual commemoration of healthcare workers nationwide. #healthcareworkerstribute #photographerscollective #2020VisionProject


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