A poignant project chronicling lockdown life in a Warwickshire town is continuing to raise vital funds for the Friends Sapphire Anniversary Appeal.

Rugby: My Town In Lockdown features moving photographs and emotional testimonies of the town's residents living under the harsh COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year.

Devised and compiled by local freelance professional photographer Jamie Gray, the book has already raised hundreds of pounds for the Friends of the Hospital of St Cross.

Mr Gray, a lifelong resident in the town who thought of the project while walking through the deserted Rugby streets as the pandemic initially took hold, said the book had been a true labour of love.

"Early on in lockdown I struggled to find anything worthwhile to do," Mr Gray said.  "I couldn't work from home and had little work coming in. Like a lot of people, my life had been turned upside down.

"It struck me that although this was a terrible time for Rugby and its wonderful residents, the story of how we coped during this surreal period needed to be captured and told.

"It's a story of Rugby, its residents and businesses and how they have been challenged by the nationwide lockdown, but also how they overcame that challenge".

The 32-page book, which costs £10, includes several thoughts from Rugby residents living with lockdown, as well as other thought-provoking images of the town. 

Rugby Borough Council supported the project, helping Mr Gray meet people in the town and providing access to shielding hubs and the Rugby Foodbank.

A 20% slice of profits from each sale of the book was donated to the long-running Friends of of St Cross charity, which raises money in order to donate equipment to the town's hospital and community service. 

A corporate photographer by trade, Mr Gray said his experiences working as a former photographer with the town's Rugby Advertiser newspaper for several years had further spurred his enthusiasm.

 "I've been photographing the Rugby community for several years, and although I now focus on photographing businesses around the country, I've never lost the desire to represent my local area," Mr Gray said. 

"The Friends of St Cross embody everything that's great about Rugby - wonderful people uniting for a wonderful reason. That's why I wanted to help them how I could.

"I thank everyone who supported me. Hopefully this is a lasting document of how we were separated during lockdown but how in many ways we were all united."

The book, which has so far raised £230, has been stocked by several local shops including the Revel Bakery, Inside 22, Rugby School Enterprises, The Merchant's Inn and Rugby Cycle Repairs. 

Copies are also still available at the town's Hunt's Bookshop and the Rugby Visitor Centre, as well as via their respective Facebook pages.

Willy Goldschmidt, Chairman of The Friends of St Cross, said the book, which is also available to order via www.jamiegrayphotography.co.uk is a wonderful gesture.

“This donation will be put towards the Friends Sapphire Anniversary Appeal which is celebrating 65 years since the formation of the charity and aims to raise £65,000.

“This year the charity has committed £200,000 towards the project which will bring Chemotherapy Services to the hospital.  We believe that if everyone in Rugby, who knows someone who has been affected by cancer, donates £1 we will beat our target!"

“We look forward to hearing of more novel ways in which Rugbeians plan to raise money for the Appeal!”