Duchess Kate continued her phone calls to photographers and people featured in her recently released Hold Still book with a sweet conversation with Jason Baird, who has captivated kids in Stockport, England by appearing in a Spider-Man suit throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Jason, who is a martial arts teacher, and his friend Andrew Baldock, started dressing up as the Marvel character 2020 on their daily walks, hanging from lamps and other street furniture to kids' delight in an effort to keep them entertained during the early days of lockdown.
"When I heard the news that you were only allowed out for an hour a day – kind of like the activities 'go for a walk, go for a run' – it was more a case of we wanted to try and cheer the kids up," Jason told Kate as the two connected over the phone.
A photo of Jason as Spider-Man, hanging from a street lamp post as kids giggle through a window behind him, is one o the 100 photographs that was chosen for Kate's Hold Stillbook and its accompanying exhibition.
"Thank you for sending in your photograph because there are some really emotive and sad images and stories that we had," the Duchess of Cambridge told him. "But this brought, you know, particularly to the judging panel – it was such a wonderful, positive image of community spirit.
"It was amazingly captured. And I hadn't appreciated at the time that you are a martial arts teacher so that gives it a lot of context as well."
"I've got two children myself – a five-year-old and a one-year-old – and obviously, they can't go out and they can't see their friends, so it was more a case of trying to just bring a few smiles and stuff," Jason told the Duchess of Cambridge.
"Literally from that day one, we had all the children in the area playing Spider-Man out the window, dressing up as Spider-Man – they had signs in the window, 'Spider-man stop outside my house' and stuff."
Kate praised Jason for the work he and Andrew had given to the community, then joked about Spider-Man making an appearance at Kensington Palace.
"Might have to buy William a suit," she hilariously said. "Unfortunately, I'm not so sure he's going to get the air clearance that you've got."
After all, William's birthday is just around the corner, and so is Prince George's!
Last week in Scotland, Kate kept her promise to five-year-old Mila Sneddon, whose family was involved in the Hold Still project. Her mom, Lynda Sneddon, submitted a photo for the project and was selected to be in the final group. It showed Mila kissing her father through a window.
The little girl and Lynda isolated separately from Mila's elder sister, Jodi, and father, Scott, during part of the coronavirus pandemic because Mila was undergoing chemotherapy treatment and Jodi had to continue with school and Scott with work.
In a moving phone call with Mila that was revealed in a video earlier this month, Kate found out more about the family's experiences with COVID-19 and she promised she would wear the pink dress to their in-person meeting after finding out the shade was Mila's favourite. She made good on the vow, showing up in a gorgeous ME+EM dress while she met Mila, Jodi, Lynda and Scott at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on May 27.
Hold Still launched May 7, 2020, and involved the duchess challenging people to submit their photographs as part of the project, which she said was intended to create a record of how the United Kingdom was dealing with and coping with the new reality of COVID-19. Some of the 100 final images were included on billboards across the U.K. late last year and all of them formed a special National Portrait Gallery exhibition online.