Two key workers from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) are having their stories told by British acting royalty, Hugh Bonneville and Ciaran Griffiths, as part of a new public art exhibition created by global art producers, Wild in Art.
Gratitude is a spectacular national public installation which opens in London tomorrow at Southwark Cathedral, near London Bridge station. The installation pays tribute to the NHS and key workers across the country who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
With railway colleagues recognised as key workers, Charles Dickson and Tom Abbott from rail operator GTR are proudly featuring in the exhibition, with their experiences of working through the pandemic shared by famous British actors Hugh Bonneville and Ciaran Griffiths.
During Covid-19, GTR became a crucial support network for key workers, as the operator ran services for those travelling to essential places of work, transporting 200,000 key workers each week at the height of lockdown.
Charles Dickson, known as ‘Mr Cool,’ is quite the celebrity in his local community. He has worked throughout the pandemic helping customers get to where they need to be as well as continuing his charity efforts. He collects donations in South London and sends them to countries-in-need across the world. Listen to his story, read by Hugh Bonneville here: https://thisisgratitude.co.uk/story/staying-mr-cool-under-pressure
When the NHS called on retired and former healthcare staff to return to the front line, more than 15,000 people stepped up – including Head of Network Operations at Southern Railway, Tom Abbott. Tom volunteered with the ambulance service to help those in urgent need. Listen to his story, read by Ciaran Griffiths here: https://thisisgratitude.co.uk/story/one-in-15000-the-volunteers-who-helped-our-heroes
In addition to sharing real-life stories from a couple of its own key workers, GTR is also sponsoring the ‘Thank You All’ sculpture – one of 49 statues being displayed in the national art installation. Designed by Oguzhan Secir, ‘Thank You All’ represents different jobs undertaken by key workers, including rail-specific roles such as a train dispatcher. The illustrations are linked by train tracks and the statue even features a Southern train.
All statues showcased in the Gratitude exhibition are surrounded by mirrors, highlighting the endless dedication of the country’s key workers. Members of the public are invited to visit the statues, give thanks to key workers and pay respect to loved ones lost in the pandemic. Open from 1st to 10th October at Southwark Cathedral near London Bridge station, tickets can be booked at: https://thisisgratitude.co.uk/tickets.
Chris Fowler, Customer Services Director for Southern, said: “Throughout the pandemic our colleagues across Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern and Thameslink worked tirelessly to keep key workers moving. That’s why we’re so proud to be one of the sponsors for Gratitude, a nationally significant art installation to celebrate the efforts of key workers in all industries. The exhibition commemorates this moment in time and I would encourage anyone who can, to come down and see it.”
Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder of Wild in Art said: “Gratitude is set to be a beautiful and striking tribute which celebrates the incredible courage and dedication of the UK’s NHS staff and all key workers and supports the vital work of NHS Charities Together. We are delighted to be taking our tour to London’s Southwark Cathedral, after months of hard work from artists across the UK, who have dedicated their time and creativity to help us produce an installation which reflects our endless Gratitude for the care and kindness that all key workers have provided. It’s great to have rail represented in the exhibition, not only through the ‘Thank You All’ statue but with the stories of Tom and Charles too.”
Gratitude honours and pays tribute to the ongoing courage and dedication of NHS Staff and all key workers during the pandemic and captures the extraordinary experiences that have connected people through these challenging times. The exhibition has so far toured Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, before coming to an end in London this month.
Free to visit, Gratitude showcases 51 sculptures designed by professional artists and designers from across the UK. On 12 October, the sculptures will be auctioned with substantial proceeds donated to NHS Charities Together.
Photo credits: GTR