Prince Charles previews artwork in tribute to NHS staff during Covid

The Duke of Rothesay was announced as the college's newest patron this week, following in his father's footsteps.

Prince Charles previews sculpture paying tribute to NHS staff at Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh amid Covid RCSEd
Tribute: HRH Prince Charles previewed the sculpture, first of its kind in Scotland, on Wednesday.

Prince Charles visited Edinburgh to preview a sculpture paying tribute to the tireless work of NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Duke of Rothesay inspected the artwork at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh (RSCEd) on Wednesday, following the announcement of his patronage earlier in the week.

Arriving at the college on Wednesday afternoon, he viewed the piece which will be cast in bronze, created by sculpture artist and professor of sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, Kenny Hunter.

The first of its kind in Scotland, the poignant sculpture depicts four life-size figures in scrubs “experiencing a moment of reflection” at the end of a shift on a Covid ward.

The resin forms will be cast in bronze later this year. RCSEd
The resin forms will be cast in bronze later this year.

The memorial was initially modelled in clay before being made into its current resin form and will be cast in bronze later this year.

Its title – “Your next breath” – highlights the impact of the virus on the respiratory system and how the pandemic affects and involves everyone.

Professor Michael Griffin OBE, president of the RCSEd, said: “It has been a great honour to welcome HRH The Duke of Rothesay to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh on his first visit as our new patron, and to mark the unveiling of this poignant sculpture.

“While recent years have been particularly challenging for all healthcare workers, I am incredibly proud of the way that colleagues have rapidly adapted and continued to provide vital care throughout the pandemic.

“This striking piece of public art which we commissioned Mr Hunter to create pays tribute to those who have given so much during such a globally significant moment in history, whilst reflecting on the tenacity and compassion of NHS workers.”

Kenny Hunter conceptualised his design after spending time with four healthcare workers who were posted on Covid wards during the pandemic.

He said: “I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to work on this important project which has allowed me to consider the mixture of emotions that healthcare workers experienced during such challenging times.

“Throughout the development of this sculpture, I was eager to ensure that there was a representation of feelings of not only exhaustion and frustration, but also of camaraderie throughout the NHS at that time.

“Above all, I wanted to ensure that the resilience of staff was represented despite all the difficulties and challenges that healthcare workers faced whilst delivering care to those in need.”

Prof Griffin added: “We are delighted to have welcomed our new patron to view the progress of this piece of work, and to celebrate the incredible work of healthcare professionals.”