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Not Every Superhero Wears a Cape

Having a bit of time on my hands during lock-down got me thinking is there something or someone out there that I could get out and photograph? With most of my weddings this year now already re-arranged for 2021 and a limited number of houses to photo for my friend Tom at his Estate Agency I knew that I had to keep my photography mojo together as it can be easy to fall into a negative frame of mind. I had seen a few photographers that I follow on Instagram photographing families on their doorsteps in exchange for a donation to charity and this got me thinking this could be a nice thing to do for all our key workers in and around Milton Keynes. This time though I didn't want it to be about charity, I simply wanted to do this as an act of kindness and also as something for me to do besides playing Football Manager and binge watching everything on Netflix.

At around 16.30pm on Sunday 3rd May 2020 right in the peak of lock-down I put out a Facebook post on my personal account as follows:

"CASTING CALL.... Are you a key worker? Do you work for the NHS, are you a Police Officer, Firefighter, Teacher, Social Worker etc???

I am looking to take your photo on your doorstep in your work-wear/uniform while stood with your family as part of a montage of lock-down photos that I am looking to take. For this I will return a digital copy of your image to keep.

All social distancing will be adhered throughout.

I am looking to roll this out this week if possible and will work times around you. Please drop me a message if you would be keen on being a part of this. Thank you and stay safe, Andrew xx"

Well the response was rather overwhelming to tell you the truth. In all I had 78 comments to that post - 20 shares and around 40 private messages....... At that point I knew I was going to be busy.

My wife asked me how I was going to do all of these and what was my end goal from it. To tell you all the truth I hadn't actually planned that far ahead as all I had aimed for in my mind was to take a handful of photos showing appreciation for key workers plus keeping me busy.

After a restless night and my phone going crazy I started to get a diary together and contact everyone to get them booked in, I was speaking with people I had never spoken with before that had got in contact via friends tagging them, old friends that I hadn't seen in a long time (yet obviously know everything about due to social media 😊) friends I have got to know over the years from selling cars/houses or taking their wedding photos, plus good friends and family.

Here are some of the highlights and the stories behind the people from my week.

Monday 4th May 2020

Andrew - Bus Driver

Andrew's Mum Jocelyn made contact with me via a friend of mine that had shared my post. Andrew is a Bus driver for Arriva and covers all routes in MK ensuring key workers get to work safely and on time. Andrew's Grandad Ivan who is 95 lives with them wanted to wear his Navy jacket. Ivan was a Minesweeper in the Royal Navy based out in Malta serving on HMS Mutine. Thank you x

Gavin - Train Driver

I know Gavin and his wife Donna through my wife as Gavin's family and my wife's family are friends. Gavin drives trains for Thames Link from Bedford through London down to Brighton and back. Gavin told me that as expected the trains are a lot quieter now and rush hour as it used to be is now non existent. Donna is currently at home and is giving up her time making PPE for numerous clients requiring it, Donna has her own craft room at home so can give up her time for others whilst also doing something that she loves. Thank you to both of you x

Dawn - Midwife

Dawn is one of my oldest friends we have known each other for nearly 25years. Dawn is a community midwife travelling all over Milton Keynes seeing expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy and also after at their homes to ensure that they are getting the best care for them and their babies. Dawn has to do all of this with PPE on. Thank you Dawn x

Maddie - Assistant Head teacher

Maddie again was someone that I met for the first time through this after a friend tagged her in my post. Maddie and her sons were great and really enjoyed posing for their photo. Maddie is currently covering shifts at her school who are open for key worker children and those most vulnerable. Thank you Maddie x

Laura - Postwomen

Laura is my postwomen and hadn't made contact about the photos. I simply asked her after she had delivered my post that day and Laura said not a problem. I don't know Laura at all other than she delivers my post each day with a beaming smile despite all the risks of coming into contact with lots of houses during the Covid-19 epidemic. Thanks Laura 👍

Gary - Postman, Lena - Student Nurse

Gary is a postman locally covering a round in Wolverton, I know Gary through my wife as they went to school together and again we know his family. I was very thankful that Gary got in touch as both Gary and Lena are key workers. Lena is a Student Nurse at Milton Keynes University hospital where numerous cases of people with Covid-19 are being looked after. Their 4 lovely children are still at school whilst they are both out to work. Thank you guys x

Tuesday 5th May 2020

Kelly - Dental Nurse

I have known Kelly since we were at middle school together (27years ago 😳). Although I have not seen Kelly for many years Kelly was one of the first to message me asking if I would like to pop over to photo her and her husband Nick. Kelly tells me that being a dental nurse during all of this is very difficult due to the close contact constantly made with patients, all of Kelly's duties are carried out wearing PPE and Kelly continues to do this with a smile on her face as she always has. Thanks Kelly x

Liz - Healthcare Assistant

Liz was another that contacted me via a Facebook tag from a friend. Liz is a healthcare assistant at Milton Keynes University Hospital attending to all patients personal care and requirements. Liz's husband Andy is at home looking after the children whilst Liz continues to work hard for our NHS during these difficult times. Thanks Liz x

Stephen and Laura – Teachers

Stephen and his wife Laura are very good personal friends of mine. Both are teachers working on a rota covering various days in the week at two different schools in MK looking after the children of key workers and those most vulnerable. Thank you both x

Steph - Veterinary Nurse

I have known Steph since we were both very young as her parents and mine are friends, Steph was kind enough to make contact and ask to be involved - Steph who loves animals is a veterinary nurse in MK. Steph's job has also been made all the harder through Covid-19 as clients still hand over their animals putting Steph in close contact with a variety of people each day. Thanks Steph x

Gale - Police Radio Controller

Gale who works for Thames Valley Police as a Radio Controller got in contact with me via a friend and was great fun to photo even suggesting that her partner Jeremy who has been furloughed wears his pyjamas and dressing gown for the photo. Thankfully, Jeremy got dressed though. Lovely to meet you, Thanks Guys 👍

Adam - Delivery Driver

Adam who left his job as a successful Estate Agent at the beginning of the year to start up his own online business has become a delivery driver for City Sprint during Covid-19. Adam collects and delivers samples for testing from around 17 different doctors’ surgeries and hospitals in the area ensuring that patients get their test results in the swiftest time frame. Nice One Adam, Thank you x

Dan – Electrician

Dan is another friend that I have known for the best part of 25 years. Dan is working as an electrician working hard on some of the UK's major infrastructure whilst a lot of the country is still in lock down. Thanks Dan 👍

Wednesday 6th May 2020

Ria - Community Nurse

Ria is a Community Nurse who I met for the first time through this got in touch via Facebook after seeing my post. Ria is out seeing patients in their homes despite the risk of Covid-19. Her husband Gareth is also working and is an IT technician covering a variety of schools in the area. Thank you guys x

Jordan - Police Officer

Jordan is a Police Neighbourhood Support Officer with Thames Valley Police. Whilst on patrol Jordan has recently been out on a push bike covering an area of Milton Keynes ensuring public safety and that crime is deterred. This was the first time that I met Jordan and his wife Naomi who got in contact after my post was shared by friends. Thanks guys x

Rob - Waste Collector

Rob's partner Michelle got in contact with me from another Facebook share. Rob who is a bin man here in Milton Keynes is out and about each day collecting our waste. A true front-line worker that we cannot be without. Thanks Rob 👍

David & Kerry - Retail

I met David and Kerry last year when I photographed their wedding and we have kept in contact since. Having seen my post for key workers they made contact. Both work for Costco in Milton Keynes and have seen the best and worst in people shopping during this lock down with people panic buying/fighting over loo roll to others that have collected stock for the local winter night shelter. Thank you x

Clare - Emergency Department Sister

Working in A&E at Milton Keynes University Hospital Clare is very much on the front line with the fight of Covid-19. Clare was also seen on ITV's 'On The Front Line' a recent TV documentary filmed at Milton Keynes with Ross Kemp showing us all how hospitals are having to take the strain and cope with this horrible virus. Listening to Clare tell me about the impact Covid-19 has had was very frightening but knowing that we have the best personnel to fight it was very re-assuring. Thank you Clare x

Jen - Nursery Manager

Jen is a Nursery Manager who got in contact after her sister tagged her in my post. Jen has the responsibility of looking after and ensuring the safety of our key workers little ones whilst they are still at work. Thank you Jen, you and your staff do a great job x

Thursday 7th May 2020

Johnny – Firefighter

Johnny is a local firefighter based at Broughton in Milton Keynes who got in contact with me after a friend of mine sent a message out asking if anyone would get involved. Johnny's fiancé Chloe is also working, covering a variety of schools helping with visually impaired children. Thank you for your continued hard work guys x

Annabelle - Midwife

My sister in law Annabelle was the inspiration for this as I wanted everyone to see all of our keyworkers as people not just the person they see whilst doing their job. Annabelle like others in this is married and has two children so as well as being a wife and a Mum she goes out to work despite the fear of Covid-19. We are grateful that Annabelle gets to help bring wonderful new life into the world. Thank you Annabelle, we are all very proud of the great job that you do (including coming to the rescue when my own little girl fell over and cracked her head open recently) x

Gemma - Community Nurse

A friend of my sisters Gemma got in touch to be photographed alongside her husband Kyle and two children. Gemma is a community nurse working hard to ensure our most vulnerable in the community have their welfare cared for. Thank you Gemma x

Cath -NHS Breast Care Ward

Cath & Chris became friends of mine when I sold their house several years ago. Cath who was one of the first to respond to my Facebook post works for the NHS at Milton Keynes University Hospital on the breast care ward whilst Chris is a retired Police Officer. Thanks Cath x

Jon – Firefighter

Jon is another person that I have known for a very long time, Jon kindly responded to my post for keyworkers and these photos are the first they have all had as a recent family of 6. Jon a firefighter in Newport Pagnell is no stranger to fighting danger. Jon tells me that during the lock-down things have been a lot quieter for the Fire Service which just goes to show that staying at home really does make a difference to all our services. Thanks Jon 👍

Friday 8th May 2020

Nathan - Cleaner MK Hospital

I was put in touch with Nathan through his brother Matt who was a good school friend that I haven't seen for around 20 years. Nathan is a cleaner for the domestic team at Milton Keynes University Hospital ensuring that the highest standards of cleanliness is adhered to. Thanks Nathan 👍

Faye - Bank Manager

Faye contacted me after seeing a share of a post via a friend. Faye is a Bank Manager working in Milton Keynes helping customers with essential transactions. Faye also has two young children at home. Thanks Faye x

Steff - Nurse

Steff got in touch via a mutual friend and upon arriving we recognised each other from school. Steff works on the respiratory ward at Milton Keynes University Hospital which has very much been affected by the current Covid-19 situation. Thanks Steff x

Ollie - Air Cadet

Though not a key worker I was keen to photo Ollie after hearing his story. I am a friend of Ollie's Mum and I was so proud to hear of the amazing gesture Ollie made recently. Each Thursday Ollie gets his uniform on and drums along to the Thursday night Key Worker clap. Ollie was kindly donated a snare drum by a very kind member of the public so Ollie in his kindness decided to set up a Just giving page to donate the money he was saving up towards the drum to a local charity (Milton Keynes Hospital Charity) Thank you Ollie, you have done a great job x

This whole experience has been very rewarding and humbling, listening to their stories in the brief time that I had with them all was great as each and every key worker has a role to play in our daily lives while we sit in lock-down. All of those involved in my photo project were very thankful to having their photo taken and have their story told. I could have photo'd more and had to unfortunately turn some down due to timing clashes or them not being available anymore.

I hope that you all enjoyed it as much as I did. The likes, loves and comments on both my Facebook & Instagram feed really does show the appreciation for each and every one of our key workers and that they all have such an important role. I too got lots of love during this from lots of comments and direct messages coming in after I had gone live on Facebook some of these came from many people that I had not seen in many years as well as close friends.

Thank you for the experience. Lots of Love to all.

Stay Safe.

Andrew x

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