A book written by patients and NHS staff is set to be published
“As a mother myself one of the stories that really got to me was the health worker who was on the front line during the pandemic trying to keep people safe but then they’re own child caught Covid"
An extraordinarily powerful book written by patients, volunteers and NHS staff in North Wales detailing their personal experiences of the pandemic is set to be published in July.
‘Tales of the Pandemic’ funded by Awyr Las, the North Wales NHS Charity and curated by BAFTA nominated writer Janys Chambers, is an often heart-rending but also ultimately uplifting read. The stories started coming in after a call-out was sent to patients, former patients, volunteers, doctors, nurses, ambulance crew and other clinical and support staff, cooks, cleaners, families, relatives, friends, children – asking for their memories of the pandemic.
The stories and poems clearly reveal how NHS staff responded so magnificently to the pandemic and are continuing to do so, and how patients valued the NHS as never before.
Many of the contributors describe the situation during the early days of the pandemic as akin as being in a war, as they battled against a new, mysterious enemy called Covid-19.
Andrea Davies, Arts in Health and Well-Being co-ordinator, has supported the project since the beginning and admits some of the stories in the book will always stay with her.
“As a mother myself one of the stories that really got to me was the health worker who was on the front line during the pandemic trying to keep people safe but then they’re own child caught Covid at school, it was the feeling of guilt believing they had let their own child down that resonated with me,~ explained Andrea.
“There are so many fantastic stories in the book, another one I found incredibly fascinating was the story of Dr Deepa Bhattacharjee the Consultant Lead Microbiologist, who before the pandemic was beavering quietly away in a lab at the Liverpool School of Tropic of Medicine happily hunting for parasite eggs under a microscope.
“When Covid struck was suddenly being invited to all the top level meetings at BCUHB and everyone’s eyes would be on her in the room expecting her to have the all the answers.”
Mrs Davies added: “There’s also the medic who admitted felt a little silly wearing a mask during the early stages of the pandemic but who then nearly loses his life to Covid, and he very movingly details the loving care he receives from his devoted wife, and the outstanding care he had in intensive care at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.”
As well as the book beautiful heart artworks have been commissioned by the North Wales NHS Charity and are designed by Laura Cameron, a Scottish textile artist. They are composed of hundreds of handmade textile hearts sent in to local hospitals by members of the public demonstrating their concern and support towards Covid-19 patients and their families. A beautiful and compassionate gesture from strangers. The hearts have been arranged in layered 3-dimensional heart shapes to showcase the variety of the hearts themselves and demonstrate how many different hands were involved in their making. The six framed pieces will be displayed in hospitals across North Wales as a reflection of individual and collective bereavements, but also as our hopes for the future.
Jo Whitehead, CEO of BCUHB, writes movingly in the forward of the book: “Thank you to the staff, volunteers and partners across North Wales who have responded so magnificently to the Covid challenge and who are continuing to give and give again. This collection of reflections in the moment is a powerful and humbling read.”