United Kingdom

NHS workers fell in love without seeing each others faces while working in an ICU

A pair of NHS workers who fell in love after meeting on the ICU have revealed how they used their eyes to communicate over their face masks.    

Nurse Ollie Foster, 43, met operating department practitioner Helen Birch, 33, when she was transferred to the same ward at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. 

Despite not being able to see each other clearly while dressed 'head to toe' in heavy PPE, the pair hit it off straight away, with Ollie revealing the pair 'communicated through their eyes' behind their visors. 

After weeks of catching moments together during work breaks, the pair are now in a happy relationship and are looking forward to having their first date and holiday together once lockdown is over. 

Nurse Ollie Foster, 43, had been single for over two years before meeting orthopaedic specialist Helen Birch, 33, when she was transferred to the same ward at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

After weeks of catching moments together during work breaks, the pair are now in a happy relationship and have formed a social bubble together 

'We were dressed head to toe in PPE so at first, we didn't even know what each other properly looked like, said Ollie. 'All we could see were one another's eyes. She has amazing eyes. They drew me in.' 

Single mum Helen usually works at a specialised orthopaedic hospital, but was volunteered to work in the ICU when the pandemic began. 

'Helen was helping out in ICU in our hospital because of her critical care background', explained Ollie, 'She was assigned to be my 'buddy'.

'We were total strangers and had never come across one another before. But we connected immediately and could communicate so easily, even non verbally. 

Single mum Helen, pictured with Ollie, is an operating department practitioner who usually works at a specialised orthopaedic hospital, but was volunteered to work in the ICU when the pandemic began

 Ollie, pictured at work, told that while working in the hospital throughout the pandemic has been 'harrowing', he has found some 'light and positivity' after meeting Helen

'It was like we were communicating through our eyes, behind our visors.We worked so well together as a team, we bounced off each other straight away.' 

Their gradual romance began when they shared the same break at work, meaning they were able to see each others faces more clearly while wearing smaller face masks. 

'After a long day at work, when we were eventually able to take our break, we decided to take it together. We sat down, had a coffee and something to eat.

'We were out of what is called the 'red zone' in the hospital, which meant we could remove the majority of our PPE and just wear a simple mask. So, this was the first time we had to chance to see each other a bit better.

'We chatted for a while, it was kind of like a debrief to what had just happened. It was really nice and refreshing to hear her perspective and view on life.

Despite not being able to see each other clearly while dressed 'head to toe' in heavy PPE, the pair hit it off straight away

Their gradual romance began when they shared the same break at work, meaning they were able to see each others faces more clearly while wearing smaller face masks

'This is also the first time we had properly had a chance to sit down and talk, as while we are on shift we are very work focused and there isn't time for socialising.'

After their initial conversation, Ollie and Helen added one another on social media but were soon hit with the cold reality of their working hours, and struggled to communicate much over the phone.   

'I wanted to know more about her as I was intrigued', said Ollie, 'I started asking some of her colleagues about her to try and find out more.

'The word eventually got back to Helen that I was asking about her and that's when we started communication on social media.

'We got talking and we decided we would meet up before we started our shift and have a coffee together in the hospital canteen. Our relationship has continued to develop since then.

'We have recently formed a support bubble with each other, which now means that when we meet up we don't have to stay two meters away from each other, which has been amazing.'

Ollie had been single for over two years before meeting Helen and says that he had given up on love after being previously hurt in past relationships

Ollie had been single for over two years before meeting Helen and says that he had given up on love after being previously hurt in past relationships.

He added: 'I guess you find it when you're least expecting it. Helen also wasn't actively looking for a relationship, so it has taken us both by surprise.' 

Ollie told that while working in the hospital throughout the pandemic has been 'harrowing', he has found some 'light and positivity' after meeting Helen. 

'We think having the same career has helped our relationship as we are going through the same things and we know what the other is going to do without talking about it.

'It has been harrowing working in the hospital during the pandemic, but it has been wonderful to find some light and positivity through it all.

'It eases the anxieties at work and makes going to work that little bit more pleasurable. It has had a very positive effect on my professional and personal life.'

While the couple are still in the infancy of their relationship, they are positive for the future and are looking forward to being able to live their life together once lockdown has ended

While the couple are still in the infancy of their relationship, they are positive for the future and are looking forward to being able to live their life together once lockdown has ended. 

Ollie said: 'I have promised to take Helen out for an Italian meal as soon as we are able to.

'We have also found that we both love medieval history and we will be exploring sight and attractions when they are open.

'Dating during lockdown has been difficult, but we are excited that we still have all of the nice things to come such as our first date and holidays together.' 

Helen added: 'Ollie is such a kind and caring person with a huge heart. He can make any day brighter even in the middle of all the chaos. I feel so lucky to have met him.

'We make the perfect team and I think we will be able to tackle anything that life throws our way as long as we are together. I'm so looking forward to our future adventures.'

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