The Covid Star People’s medal is the work of British public artist Harry Gray, creator of the Battle of Britain Monument, to honour every NHS and Care Worker in the UK for their frontline service throughout the Covid 19 pandemic. An original artwork, this ‘not for profit’ project is a ‘People’s Medal’ and not a proposal for a formal honour. The idea is to create a lasting way for the nation to thank frontline workers, something that can be cherished, proudly worn in daily life, and kept as an heirloom long after the nation’s doorstep applause has ended.
The Covid Star is not for sale individually. Instead, it is hoped that is will be commissioned by Public and/or Private funding and awarded on our behalf to all the NHS staff and Care Workers who have worked so tirelessly to keep us safe. It has a dual benefit because being designed and made in the UK it will help our specialist firms through financial difficulties caused by the pandemic and also ensure traditional skills in Jewellery are passed on to a new generation of apprentices.
The story behind the Covid Star People’s Medal:
Harry was treated in hospital in March 2020, just before the first national lockdown. Despite receiving excellent care, he could already see the strain on NHS staff. While on the wards, Harry often heard the phrase ‘they deserve a medal’ directed to staff so he decided to design one.
The shape of the Covid Star is the Maltese Cross, a familiar and ancient motif used by many including St John’s Ambulance and the Nightingale Badge of St Thomas’s. By using this classic form, he has linked the Covid Star with the Nations historic symbols for rewarding and celebrating care. Yet Harry’s is also a very contemporary design for at its centre is a subtle reference to the Covid-19 molecule. This centre – a scalloped rim to represent the spiked surface of the virus which is now being successfully targeted by lifesaving vaccines. The C is for both the NHS and the Care Workers who have cared for us during the Covid pandemic.
Harry consulted NHS nurses and Care Workers in the creation of his design. NHS staff nurses at the Rowans Hospice, near Portsmouth, who were caring for Harry’s father said they preferred the idea of a smaller, pin-badge size, rather than a larger medal “that would just stay in drawer at home.” As a result, Harry changed the design to the Covid Star to be a wearable size.
The response of NHS staff and Carers has been overwhelming; they absolutely love the Covid Star.
Harry Gray approached a UK company at the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter to make prototypes of his design. The company, called Fattorini, was established in 1827 and is famous for making prestigious Nurses and Doctors badges. Tom Fattorini stated “Before Covid we had plans to expand our apprentice programme to 2 or 3 more additional places. This has now been put on pause until the situation becomes clearer. Our current apprentice enameller is on furlough due to Covid.”
A large order of the Covid Stars would be shared out to several firms in the Jewellery Quarter and help to create new apprenticeships.