Emdad Rahman lost for words as Trent Alexander-Arnold welcomes him into Lionhearts

Thursday 03 Dec 2020
Emdad Rahman has taken shirt number 21 in our Lionhearts squad

Volunteer extraordinaire Emdad Rahman learned of his place in England’s Lionhearts squad thanks to a message from Three Lions ace Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Rahman, a lifelong Liverpool fan, was left speechless on seeing who he called “the greatest right-back in the world” deliver a recorded message after hearing of his work during 2020.

After working as a volunteer for most of his life since he was aged just ten, Emdad set up his Bookbike London scheme at the start of this year which saw him cycling around the capital to deliver books to people who might not have had access otherwise.

And his work was recognised by our judges, with Emdad awarded shirt number 21 in our growing squad of Lionhearts.

"It came about as a result of me wanting to share a passion for books, literacy and reading among all ages and backgrounds and combining it with something that kept me well mentally and physically fit as well,” he explained.

"So I combined both passions together to come up with Bookbike London.

"It's [volunteering] become an extension of myself. Anything you do when there's an element of satisfaction or enjoyment - it's never a chore.

"I've never felt tired, bored or anguished when I'm volunteering so it's just become a part of me.”

The Lionhearts initiative, supported by BT, will pay homage to 23 inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond during this challenging time for the nation and kicked-off with Captain Sir Tom Moore being named as the group's skipper.

And when Barking-based Emdad saw his video message from Trent to learn about his call-up, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Emdad's unforgettable reaction to seeing his message from Trent Alexander-Arnold

"I’m just lost for words, totally lost for words,” he said.

"To be mentioned in the same breath as Captain Sir Tom Moore, I've been obsessed with his story since it emerged in the press.

"So to say it's an honour is the greatest understatement of my life, it's beyond an honour.”

The squad so far...

1.Captain Sir Tom Moore – Record-breaking centenarian who raised more than £32million for NHS Charities Together

2. Ranjit Singh – The wrestling coach from Wolverhampton helped organise daily meals for 300 people and the distribution of PPE equipment

5. Betty-Leigh Allinson – Football shirt enthusiast aged five who has raised over £27,000 for a Hertfordshire hospice through a cycling feat

7. Imogen Papworth-Heidel - The young footballer embarked on a mission to do a keepie-uppie for every keyworker in the UK and raised over £10,000 for nine charities in the process.

9. Tobias Weller – Nine-year-old inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore to raise almost £150,000 for Sheffield-based charities

10. Joe Wicks - The YouTube fitness coach led the nation and beyond through a daily exercise class for 18 weeks during lockdown.

12. Nana Badu – His organisation, BADU Sports, provided a helpline, food bank and deliveries to vulnerable members of the local community in Hackney.

14. Kian Cormier - The teenager produced visors for his local community in Surrey, while continuing his studies.

15. Hassan Akkad – Award-winning film maker who answered a call to be a cleaner in his local hospital before raising awareness of NHS bereavement fund

16. Akbar Khan - Bradford-based volunteer for a charity for people with disabilities who brought their community together during COVID-19 lockdown 

17. Ayesha Pakravan - The chef set up Vital Meals during lockdown and went on to provide over 15,000 free meals to people in London

18. Dema Aktaa - Syrian refugee who helped raise money for COVID-19 outbreaks in refugee camps by walking on her prosthetic leg.

19. Tony Hudgell - Celebrated young fundraiser who raised £1.6m for the hospital which saved his life as a baby.

21. Emdad Rahman - The Barking-based volunteer ran a service delivering books around London on his bike throughout lockdown.

22. Daniel Sukula – Community leader from Bolton who, after being saved from deportation back to DR Congo, founded a centre for disadvantaged youths.

23. Jay Flynn - The virtual quizmaster helped raise money for multiple charities and entered the Guinness Book of Records during lockdown

By Nicholas Veevers