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Exclusive: Thousands enter Kate Middleton's photo project as we showcase five moving images

The Duchess of Cambridge launched Hold Still last week

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The Duchess of Cambridge's search to find the best pictures of life in lockdown has seen an astonishing 7,500 entries in just the first week. And as the six-week competition continues, HELLO! has joined forces with the Duchess to showcase a wide selection of some of the entries submitted so far – which all focus on kindness during these unusual times. The pictures shown in this week's issue, and below, range from a selfless teacher to NHS staff at work and were taken by amateur photographers around the country, all eager to have their pictures displayed later this year in a virtual exhibition to be called Hold Still, which Kate launched last week.

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Our five images were all selected by Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, and Catherine Roche, chief executive officer of children's mental health charity Place2Be, to highlight acts of kindness. The choice marks Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 18 to 24 May.

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The Duchess is the patron of both organisations and is working with the National Portrait Gallery on Hold Still. Nicholas told HELLO!: "We've been overwhelmed by the submissions we've received for the Hold Still project so far. There are so many powerful images from across the UK, each with a story to tell. As this selection demonstrates, even if we are alone, we can all create something together. Hold Still will provide an inclusive perspective on, and an important historical record of, these unprecedented times, expressed through the faces of the nation."

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Catherine told us: "It has been an honour to be invited to select these very moving images, reflecting families and workers across the UK responding to life under lockdown. "As these shots show, simple acts of kindness and consideration for others can make all the difference in helping us to cope in these challenging times." At the end of the competition, 100 shortlisted photos will feature in a "gallery without walls", a digital exhibition available online. Submissions are open until 18 June; visit npg.org.uk.

See five of the images that have been submitted so far:

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'We may be wearing masks, but underneath we smile from ear to ear,' taken by Trevor Edwards, Lancashire

"Beth and Sade are all smiles while looking after our lovely residents in Hulton House Specialist Dementia Care Home in Preston, Lancashire."

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'Carer Worker,' taken by Fabiana Connors in Hertfordshire

"Me and Mr Hornsby – I care for him and he makes me happy in these terrible times. The first thing he says to me when I open the doors is: 'I am so glad to see you,' and with that he makes all the hard work we have been doing worthwhile. With the lockdown, they don't have the visit from the family any more, so we are the only person they see all day. So it is my job to make him feel better, even if only for a few minutes, to make sure he is clean, fed and he has had his meds. I make sure to say a few little jokes to make him laugh a bit. I love what I do, I love my job. I love caring for the elderly."

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'I miss my nanny,' taken by Harriet Howard in Norfolk

"After eight weeks being isolated from my nanny, who was becoming incredibly sad, I decided to surprise her with an afternoon tea. Me and my sister made all the items and delivered to Nanny's door along with pictures and letters. We know lots of children are missing loved ones. We wanted to try and show an act of kindness and make Nanny happy."

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'The Touch,' taken by Prashanie Dharmadasa in Surrey

"Capturing the essence of when human touch has become a deadly weapon. This is my mother Niranthi and my 19-year-old son Thrivid. We live with her. I also have two brothers whom my mother has not been able to see for months since the pandemic. She misses them terribly and each day she longs to feel their touch or have a hug. I wanted this photo to represent a mother's anguish of separation from her children, and when staying away has become the ultimate act of kindness."

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'Blessings from a stranger,' taken by Natalie Cookson in London

"Who is to say graffiti from a stranger isn't a blessing from an angel in disguise?"

See this week's issue of HELLO! magazine to see the other five exclusive photos and full report.

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