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Kate Middleton stuns in new photo as she launches Hold Still book

The Duchess of Cambridge launched the community photography project last year

The Duchess of Cambridge's Hold Still photography project is being turned into a book, to create a "lasting record" of the nation's experience of lockdown.

In a foreword for the book, accompanied by a stunning portrait of the Duchess, camera in hand and taken by Matt Porteous at Anmer Hall, Kate writes: "When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced – the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers.

"But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal. 

"Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing – to capture individuals' stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic."

READ: Prince William and Kate Middleton's heartfelt message for mental health campaign revealed

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WATCH: Kate thanks shares images from touching Hold Still project

Kate adds that she hopes the images will "showcase the experiences and emotions borne during this extraordinary moment in history, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon this unparalleled period."

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A stunning new image of Kate holding a camera is included with her foreword

Hold Still attracted 31,000 entries from photographers of all ages last May, with 100 final images later chosen to appear in a digital exhibition as well as in community exhibitions across the UK.

The unique record of our lives as the virus took hold goes on sale from Friday 7 May – exactly a year after the Duchess launched the project - with proceeds to be shared between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery, of which she is patron.

The £24.95 book has been put together with support from The Co-op, which helped run the community exhibitions on billboards and outdoor poster sites in 80 towns, cities and areas last October.

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The Hold Still book will be released on 7 May

The Duchess writes: "For me, the power of the images is in the poignant and personal stories that sit behind them. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to some the photographers and sitters, to hear their stories first-hand – from moments of joy, love and community spirit, to deep sadness, pain, isolation and loss. 

"A common theme of those conversations was how lockdown reminded us about the importance of human connection and the huge value we place on the relationships we have with the people around us. 

"Although we were physically apart, these images remind us that, as families, communities and a nation we need each other more than we had ever realised."

Funds raised will support arts and mental health projects nationwide, including Mind's work in local communities and the National Portrait Gallery's education and community projects. 

MORE: Inside Kate Middleton's family album: see photos of George, Charlotte and Louis

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William and Kate viewed one of the Hold Still displays at Waterloo station in October

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of The National Portrait Gallery described public support for Hold Still as "phenomenal", adding: "The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown. 

"Hold Still is an important record of this extraordinary moment in our history – expressed through the faces of the nation – and we hope will remain so for generations to come."

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer, said: "The coronavirus pandemic is a mental health emergency as well as a physical one. The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, and any recession that lies ahead means there has never been a more crucial time to prioritise our mental health. 

"This inspiring collection of portraits illustrates the impact of the pandemic in all its complexity, but also how creativity, art and human connection can help us find meaning in unprecedented challenges."

To order, visit: www.npgshop.org.uk/products/hold-still-hardcover

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