'The response was truly overwhelming'
An NHS nurse and Baptist church member has spoken of her appreciation after six artists painted her portrait during the Covid-19 pandemic
Kit Torres, a member of the Filipino International Church who has worked as a nurse for the Northumbria NHS Trust for 16 years, entered the #portraitsforNHSheroes initiative recently.
#portraitsforNHSheroes is the brainchild of Oxford-based artist Tom Croft, who offered to paint a free portrait of the first NHS worker to contact him, and encouraged other artists to do the same. It quickly snowballed with hundreds of artists all over the UK offering their talents as a way of thanking all keywokers for their service at this time.
Kit submitted a photo wearing glasses and face mask alongside the caption:
“Behind the mask
A warrior breathes
Fighting to save lives
Amidst the fears
Oh Lord give us strength
To face each ordeal
We may be worn out
But with your grace,
Let triumph be revealed”
She was stunned when the submission resulted in six* artists painting her portrait. They were a mixture of styles, including oil paintings, charcoal and pencil sketches.
‘The response was truly overwhelming,’ Kit said.
‘Six artists! They sent messages thanking me for all my effort and how they truly appreciate the services that all keyworkers provide especially during this pandemic. It is such an honour.
‘As a Christian and a nurse by profession, this has made me realise how blessed I am, that I can somehow share my services to humanity in the best way that I could possibly can.’
During the pandemic Kit has been assigned to the Orthopaedics trauma unit, dealing mainly with emergency cases. The patients she deals with are all admitted via A&E, so anyone could be Covid 19 positive.
She said her faith in God has strengthened her, and been strengthened during this time.
‘It may be frightening knowing that we are always on the verge of contracting the virus as we are highly exposed. Our body’s response will either fight or flight but I have always been ready to meet my creator. It may sound daunting but deep in my heart, it is true…I am ready! Hence I work with all my heart knowing that God is with me.
‘He knows my destiny and while I have the strength to keep going and to help the people in need, I will do it.’
She adds, ‘Of course I fear for my children for they are still young. I have a son and a daughter aged 13 and 8 respectively but I believe that the Lord’s plan is always perfect and He never fails to provide. As it says in Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
‘I stand on God’s promises and with that, I have nothing to fear.’
In 2013 The Filipino International Church became the first Filipino church accredited by the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It is also a member of the Northern Baptist Association. Its roots can be traced to changes in NHS recruitment - it originally began to form in the first decade of the millennium, when the NHS recruited trained personnel from overseas, including the Philippines.
Like many others at this time, the congregation is gathering on Zoom for its weekly Sunday service. There is also Bible study everyday.
‘We may not be physically interacting, but the fellowship is there, encouraging one another as most of us are nurses and health care workers in the hospital,’ says Kit.
‘I hope this pandemic will end soon. I pray that somehow everything will go back to normal and this Covid 19 will just be a part of our history.’
Oil painting by artist Mel Beadel
Oil painting by artist Ruth Jones
Oil painting by artist Emma Bennett
Charcoal on paper by artist Lucy Anderson
Oil painting by artist Lynsey Cleaver
Pencil sketch by Shanaz Rouxel
* A week after publication of this article, Kit subsequently received a seventh portrait. This pencil sketch was created by Steve Sinnott, an artist based in Lancashire.