The pandemic had a huge impact on HUC however our clinical and operational teams came together in an incredibly heroic way to overcome the challenges thrown our way. We quickly adapted to the pressures brought by COVID-19 to support the wider healthcare system by introducing new services and changing our delivery models and technology. Facilitating such significant change brought many challenges to all our teams, who were pushed to the limit yet worked relentlessly to help the NHS fight COVID-19.

In honour of the selflessness, dedication and hard work of NHS workers, a COVID-19 star badge was designed by Harry Gray and produced by emblematic jewellers Thomas Fattorini. Today, we would like to tell you a little bit about Harry Gray’s inspiration and the extensive process carried out at Thomas Fattorini behind the production of the COVID-19 star badges.

Who is Harry Gray and what was his inspiration behind the COVID-19 Star design?

Harry Gray is an artist based in Cambridge who believed the NHS workforce deserved recognition for putting their lives on the line during the pandemic and was particularly inspired during his own experiences within a hospital where he often heard the phrase ‘they deserve a medal’.

Harry designed the COVID-19 star using inspiration from the Nightingale Nurses badge, which has the Maltese cross, also with red and blue enamel. At the centre of the badge is the letter ‘C’ which represents ‘careworker’, and it is surrounded by spikes, which is in reference to the COVID-19 molecule.

Who are Thomas Fattorini and how are the COVID-19 Stars produced?

Thomas Fattorini are an emblematic jewellers company who moved to Birmingham from Yorkshire as a family business almost 100 years ago. Emblematic jewellery is all about jewellery of people and things. They specialise in designing and manufacturing precious metals and vitreous enamels, trophies, medals, national honours and other enamelled items.

Harry Gray reached out to Thomas Fattorini for the production of the COVID-19 Stars after seeing their name on the back of the Nightingale Nurses badge. Since then, Thomas Fattorini took the project on board and have produced thousands of badges for the NHS.

Each COVID-19 Star takes one week to be produced, as they go through a detailed process:

  • The star starts off as a piece of metal which is blanked into either squares or roundings.
  • Two steel dyes are cut. Dyes are tools that are used to make components which are fabricated into a particular item.
  • The star goes through a stamping process, whereby the metal is sandwiched in between the two dyes.
  • The badge is then clipped out, where any excess metal is removed. It then goes for welding, which is where the post is attached to the back of the badge, and the tack can be attached.
  • The badge then goes through annealing which is a heating process that puts the detail in every stamp.
  • Once this is done, the badge is enamelled which involves red and blue coloured powered being put into the receptacles of the badge.
  • The badges are then fired off at approximately 500°C, where surplus glass is lineashed off, excess material is removed and the badge goes back to its original design.
  • After this, the badge goes through pumice polishing, which puts a shine on it before going through quality control and the finishing process.
  • The finishing process involves the badge being cleaned ultrasonically by shaking dirt particles off.
  • The badge is then plated in silver using electrolysis and then cleaned again using electrolytic lacquering, which is a layer of acrylic that protects the silver.
  • Finally, the badge goes for final inspection before being packaged.

We hope this COVID-19 Star award goes a little way towards recognising your immense contributions in the fight against the pandemic – we hope you will wear it with pride.

A note for all our employees, if you would like to book your space at one of our COVID-19 Star Thank You events, please go to our COVID-19 Stars Intranet page.