A midwife from Coagh, Co Tyrone is one of three frontline workers that are featured on British Vogue’s July cover.
Rachel Millar, 24, is not used to the spotlight. As a midwife at Homerton Hospital in east London, like countless other essential workers she has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
She told Vogue that growing up on a farm in Northern Ireland in Coagh, near Cookstown, she became fascinated with pregnancy and birth during lambing season each year, which influenced her decision to become a midwife: “I just love being with the women in this really special time in their lives.”
One of the hardest things during the pandemic, she explained, was that her bicycle was stolen. “If you’ve ever watched Call the Midwife, you’ll know the importance of two wheels to an east London midwife, especially when we’re desperately trying to avoid public transport,” she says. “Having to carry on working for the rest of the week, maintain good morale, and be that reassuring voice to worried parents was made slightly more difficult.”
However, a friend who also works at the hospital raised over £500 online to get her a new one, and a bicycle company donated one after they heard about her story, which she says is the perfect example of the community support that makes her love east London so much.
Rachel mentions the weekly clapping for the NHS, and meals donated to healthcare workers, but makes the point that this support needs to continue past the pandemic. “To resume to ‘normal’ would be a step in the wrong direction”, she says. “Hopefully, this pandemic will bring about positive change and a new and improved normal, for NHS staff and service users alike.”
Becoming a Vogue cover star was unexpected for Rachel, who told The Irish Times that she had been in the middle of a shift when she found out everyone working that day was going to have their photograph taken. She joked that they didn’t get the hair and make-up treatment afforded to the celebrity cover stars.
While they knew the magazine was doing a feature on frontline workers, it was only weeks later that it was revealed that they would be on the cover. Along with Rachel, there are two other covers, one featuring Anisa Omar, a 21-year-old supermarket worker in King’s Cross and Narguis Horsford, a train driver on the London Overground.
Editor Edward Enniful wrote that “I can think of a no more appropriate trio of women to represent the millions of people in the UK who, at the height of the pandemic, in the face of dangers large and small, put on their uniforms and work clothes and went to help people.”
The July issue of Vogue is out on June 5.
Featured image: British Vogue, photo Jamie Hawkesworth
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