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Carved By Hand

1673. Johnathon Whittaker

Johnathon Whittaker, from Devon, is a woodcarver who has been creating hundreds of superhero plaques for display in NHS hospitals and care homes across the South West to acknowledge the work of front line health workers during the pandemic.

At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, Johnathon wanted to use his skills in a way that could provide a morale boost to frontline workers and help demonstrate public support for their vital work. After receiving 4,000 requests for plaques, Johnathon has so far produced his wooden creations for 436 hospitals.

In a personal letter to Johnathon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“I want to express my admiration for your fantastic carved superhero creations for NHS hospitals and care homes across the South West of England. 

“I know first-hand the astonishing work of our healthcare workers over the last year and I was inspired to learn of your unique way of acknowledging their service. The beautiful plaques you and your team of volunteers have carved wonderfully capture the spirit of how we view our healthcare workers. I hope more of your plaques travel across the country and are placed in more NHS hospitals!”

In response to winning the award, Johnathon said: 

“I am so incredibly grateful and surprised to receive the Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister. The Journey I found myself on during the lockdowns, where I set myself the challenge to show as many NHS facilities across the UK the sort of gratitude they deserve, has been one of a proportion I never even dreamed of. This was a journey I didn’t expect to be on, but I am so incredibly humbled to know that the carvings I did for them have had such a positive impact on so many people. 

The amount of facilities I was able to reach would never have been possible if it weren’t for the support and help I received from, not only my local community in the form of supplies, tools, deliveries, packaging and tech support, but my woodworking community also, where countless other carvers dedicated their time and efforts to create and donate plaques to their local NHS facilities. 

I haven’t done this for recognition; so this award is one more ‘tip of the hat’ to all the amazing men and women of our National Health Service that put in time, effort, love and separation from their own families to take care for our ones in need, during a time of such danger and uncertainty. These people put their lives on the line to save so many others, and for that, as a nation, we shall be forever grateful. My carvings were intended to be a small thank you for the huge amount they all did, a forever reminder of their compassion and sacrifice to aid out country. I am truly honoured to have been able to make a small difference to these wonderful people’s lives; to be able to thank them, from the bottom of my heart. These times have been so unprecedented, so many have been lost, so many are still fighting and as a nation we are slowly getting through. To be recognised for the small things I have done throughout this seems menial in comparison, but I am so truly thankful.” 

Sir Gary Streeter, Johnathon’s local MP for South West Devon, said: 

“I am thrilled to learn of the award that Johnathon Whittaker has been granted for his remarkable wood carving project and the grant support he has shown for the NHS. I hope he will continue to champion all kinds of worthy causes with his wood carving skills.”  

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The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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