'Forever holding hands': One couple's loving moment captured in photo exhibition

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Wilkins

The moment a couple from Sussex held hands, days before passing away, has been captured forever in an exhibition showcasing the highs and low during the coronavirus pandemic.

'Hold Still' is a digital exhibition held by the National Portrait Gallery and features poignant images representing helpers and heroes, our 'new normal', and acts of kindness.

One of the most striking and moving images featured is 'Forever holding hands'.

It shows Pat and Ron Wood from Worthing, clutching each other's hands, days before the pair passed away from Covid-19.

'Forever holding hands' is the name of the photo.

The community photographic project, capturing the highs, low and heart of nation is spearheaded by the Duchess of Cornwall. 

Over 31,000 people entered, with just 100 photos chosen to take part in the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition.

The image was captured by Pat and Ron's granddaughter, Hayley, who was lucky enough to be able to visit them in hospital.

Hayley says: "I knew there was a chance that this was going to the last time that we might see them. They were just sitting there, and they were holding hands, and I just thought this just sums them up. It's such a lovely image. I didn't think at the time how much impact it was going to have. To me, this was just how they were all the time."

Ron and Pat in their earlier years.

The couple, who had been married for 71 years, were admitted a week apart to the Covid-19 ward at Worthing Hospital. At first they were nursed separately, but were soon reunited when staff pushed their beds together.

They spent their final days exactly how they had spent the last 71 years, together. Pat passed away in her sleep, lying next to Ron, and he followed her five days later.

Hayley says it gives her so much comfort to know, that in a world where we have to distance ourselves from each other, that Ron and Pat had everything they ever wanted in the palm of their hands.