Covid: Medic memorial statue unveiled ahead of final finish

5 月 12, 2021World News

The statue of the female medic stands 8ft (2.5m) tall in a sculptor’s studio near Midhurst in West Sussex.

She is dressed in full PPE, with only her eyes visible behind a visor and mask.

And she is wearily taking off her gloves.

It is a defining image of the Covid pandemic, and the subject for a monument planned for central London honouring the efforts of doctors, nurses and other emergency workers.

The BBC has been given an exclusive view of the first statue to be completed for the National Emergency Services Memorial.

The statue of the medic has been been meticulously carved in clay ahead of a final finish by sculptor Philip Jackson.

But the project still needs to raise more than £3m if it is to be ready for an unveiling it is hoped will take place at the end of next year.

The memorial depicting six figures is known as the 999 Cenotaph.

It was planned before Covid and later adapted to recognise the efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic.

Jackson – known for his bronze statue of Bobby Moore outside Wembley Stadium and the RAF Bomber Command memorial in Green Park – says he had a clear vision for the figure of the medic.

“She’s had a 12-hour stint on the ward. She’s fatigued, she’s tired,” he says.

“She’s taking off her gloves for the last time during the day and all that she has seen during the day is seen in her eyes.”

The statue is a fitting tribute, adds nurse Nancy Jirira, who has worked for the NHS since 1970.

She is a Covid survivor who was seriously ill in hospital for several weeks last year.

For Nancy it is all about the eyes.

Statue of medic by sculptor Philip Jackson
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“I honestly think when you look at those piercing eyes, what you are looking at is the image of someone who is literally challenging to ask me – the onlooker – whether I truly understand the emotional drain this whole period has been on professionals,” she said.

“It’s etched in that face and in those eyes… deep piercing eyes looking at the human being helpless on the ward and wondering if they are going to pull through.”

The monument will also include statues of a paramedic, a firefighter, a police officer, a coastguard and a search-and-rescue worker with their dog.

Organisers want this monument – set for a site in Westminster – to be a place where everyone can come to remember the emergency services’ tireless work and bravery.

The memorial already has the support of the prime minister, the leaders of the devolved nations, and the Duke of Cambridge.

But Tom Scholes-Fogg, who is leading the charity project, is urging the government to step up with a significant injection of cash.

“This will be a national symbol of the gratitude, sacrifice and remembrance of the NHS and the emergency services,” he says.

“This will be there for 500-plus years and as such I would very much encourage the prime minister and the government to contribute to funding of this important historical monument.”


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