Published On: Thu, May 13th, 2021

Helena Bonham Carter bumps elbows with Boris Johnson at charity service for International Nurses Day

Helena Bonham Carter enjoyed an elbow bump with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as she attended a service at London‘s Westminster Abbey for International Nurses Day.

The actress, 54, who is a direct descendant of healthcare pioneer Florence Nightingale, gave a reading at the service after praising nurses for overcoming the ‘steepest learning curve of their career’ during the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual service was held to mark Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12, after being postponed last year due to the Covid crisis.

Important: Helena Bonham Carter, 54, enjoyed an elbow bump with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as she attended a service for International Nurses Day

Speaking to the socially-distanced congregation, Helena said the nurses of today have faced ‘the steepest learning curve of their careers’ during the pandemic before delivering a reading.

The star was joined by her son Billy, 17, as she spoke to Prime Minister Boris ahead of the service.

Helena opted for a colourful floral dress in keeping with kooky fashion sense, along with a red velvet face mask.  

Praising: The actress who is a direct descendant of healthcare pioneer Florence Nightingale, gave a reading at the service in London's Westminster Abbey

Praising: The actress who is a direct descendant of healthcare pioneer Florence Nightingale, gave a reading at the service in London’s Westminster Abbey

Important: Speaking to the socially-distanced congregation, Helena said the nurses of today have faced 'the steepest learning curve of their careers' during the Covid pandemic

Important: Speaking to the socially-distanced congregation, Helena said the nurses of today have faced ‘the steepest learning curve of their careers’ during the Covid pandemic

Speaking: The Crown star then delivered a reading in front of those in attendance, for the service to mark Florence's birthday

Speaking: The Crown star then delivered a reading in front of those in attendance, for the service to mark Florence’s birthday

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth were also among the congregation of 60 people, and the event was live streamed.

Giving an address, the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, said: ‘Over the last year nurses, midwives and health visitors across the world have been a sign of hope.

‘You have rolled up your sleeves (well above the elbows unless covered by PPE) and you have given yourselves more than either we or you would have imagined, and we are profoundly thankful.’

She said nurses had given ‘dignity and care’ as well as ‘comfort and hope’ to patients. 

Say cheese! Helena was accompanied by her son Billy, 17, who she shares with ex Tim Burton

Say cheese! Helena was accompanied by her son Billy, 17, who she shares with ex Tim Burton

Stylish: She opted for a colourful floral dress in keeping with kooky fashion sense, along with a red velvet face mask

Stylish: She opted for a colourful floral dress in keeping with kooky fashion sense, along with a red velvet face mask

Dame Sarah, a former nurse, said healthcare professionals have ‘taken on new roles, stepped up to think of others before yourselves – even in the face of death’.

She added: ‘We must not forget what Covid has taught us, in particular your value as nurses and midwives and also of society’s inequalities.

‘Hope never domesticates, never settles down. It has the courage to put things right.’

This year, the service recognised the contribution and sacrifice of nurses and midwives since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK.

A procession, led by Ruheana Begum – a Florence Nightingale scholar and matron at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation – carrying a lamp, also took place.

The tradition paid tribute to Nightingale’s work in Crimea when she carried out her night rounds tending to wounded soldiers while holding a lantern, earning her the title The Lady with the Lamp.

Chatting: Alongside her son, Helena spoke to some of those in attendance for the annual service, which last year had been delayed due to the Covid pandemic

Chatting: Alongside her son, Helena spoke to some of those in attendance for the annual service, which last year had been delayed due to the Covid pandemic

The Dean of Westminster, Dr David Hoyle, conducted the service.

He told those in attendance: ‘We look around us in gratitude for the effort so many have made to bring us to a place of greater safety and yet grieve for those in communities still devastated by illness and grief.

‘We pray in the midst of a pandemic, acknowledging both an effort made, and an effort ahead.

Snap away! Outside the Abbey Helena could be seen snapping selfies with her son, who was dressed in a blue suit for the occasion

Snap away! Outside the Abbey Helena could be seen snapping selfies with her son, who was dressed in a blue suit for the occasion

‘We do that as we honour the memory of Florence Nightingale in whom compassion and care had the power to deliver not just healing, but change.’

It comes after Helena gave a rare insight into her split from ex Tim six years after they announced they went their separate ways.

The Crown actress hinted while she was ‘reluctant’ to end their relationship, she added: ‘Some are parts of divorce are recommended’

During the interview with the Guardian in November, Helena also opened up about how she met her current partner, Rye Dag Holmboe, 32, at a wedding two years ago.

The film star admitted it has taken a while for her family to ‘adjust’ and said that things were ‘really very good now’, after initially struggling with not having her two children, Billy and Nell, around all of the time.

Detailing her experience, Helena revealed: ‘The cruelty of divorce is extraordinary. But then you get to a point where you’re like, “Oh, I get this week off!” Some parts are very much to be recommended.’

Grand arrival: Prime Minister Boris was among several high-profile guests in attendance, along with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth

Grand arrival: Prime Minister Boris was among several high-profile guests in attendance, along with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth

Helena also revealed that she believes The Crown’s creator, Peter Morgan, asked her to play Princess Margaret because she was able to relate to her very public break-up.

While Helena insisted she wasn’t able to reveal why she and Tim went their separate ways, she did say: ‘I didn’t leave, put it that way’.

Since the split Helena has been dating ‘magic’ boyfriend Rye.

Explaining how they met, she said: ‘A totally random thing, which both of us nearly didn’t go to, so it was one of those moments that was so chance and ended up determining so much. A really happy accident, and it’s an amazing thing.’

Candid: It comes after Helena gave a rare insight into her split from ex Tim as well as opening up about how she met her current partner, Rye Dag Holmboe, 32 (pictured in 2019)

Candid: It comes after Helena gave a rare insight into her split from ex Tim as well as opening up about how she met her current partner, Rye Dag Holmboe, 32 (pictured in 2019) 

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