Duchess Kate video concludes her successful ‘Hold Still’ pandemic photo project – USA TODAY

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Maria Puente
 
| USA TODAY

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Duchess Kate of Cambridge marked the end of her resoundingly successful “Hold Still” community portrait project with a video message thanking those who submitted thousands of images, some of which have been displayed online and on billboards and outdoor posters across the United Kingdom as a pull-together effort during pandemic lockdown.

So far, there have been more than 5.2 million page views of the online exhibition of the 100 winning photos, as a selection went on display in 80 cities and towns around Britain, according to Kensington Palace.

Kate, 38, a photography enthusiast, launched the project with the National Portrait Gallery in May, seeking a way to allow people in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic to share their stories and experiences

“We have been thrilled by the response to the project and I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of the 31,000 people who submitted an image,” Kate said in the video. She wore a peppery red blazer over a white top; her long hair fell in loose waves past her shoulders.

“For me, the most powerful part of the project is that it has shown just how much people and communities have come together and how important we all are to each other,” she added.

Earlier this week, Kate spoke to Johannah Churchill, whose submission, “Melanie, March 2020,” captured one of Churchill’s colleagues, Melanie, as she worked to set up a COVID-19  clinic in London.

The photo was recreated as a hand-painted mural and installed in the center of the city of Manchester as part of the community exhibition there.

During their conversation, Kate, Churchill and Edward Cole, a doctor involved in setting up the clinic, discussed the important role the photograph has played in helping to document the experiences of frontline workers as they continue to battle COVID-19.  England has gone into another strict lockdown to prevent a killer surge in virus cases. 

Churchill told Kate she has received multiple messages from other medical workers from across the country and around the world, allowing them to share their experiences of working during the pandemic era.

Last month, Kate and husband Prince William visited Waterloo in south London to view one of the 112 “Hold Still” community exhibition sites, before travelling to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital to speak to frontline workers featured in the project.

In her video message, Kate said the outdoor exhibition of selected images has been “fantastic.”

“I’m hugely grateful to all our partners for helping us take the images back to the people and communities who took them,” she said.

“It was so hard to select the final 100 photographs but we hope we have created a collective portrait of our nation, reflecting on what others have experienced as well as our own journeys through this difficult time.”

The project was supported by Co-op, the British retail consumer cooperative, which launched “Co-operate” in April to help connect vulnerable people to local and national support programs. Co-op recently provided emergency relief funding to 4,500 community causes in Britain, the palace said.

The “Hold Still” project invited people of all ages and areas of the kingdom to submit a photographic portrait taken during lockdown.

In July, Kate joined a video call by the judging panel (which included a nurse, a photographer, a poet and the director of the National Portrait Gallery, of which Kate is royal patron) to select 100 portraits from the thousands submitted to form the “Hold Still” exhibition.

When the exhibition launched online in September, Queen Elizabeth II wrote a message sending her best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted to the project. 

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