Dr Sadif Rafiq hand-picked for Lionhearts by England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley

Monday 14 Dec 2020
Dr Rafiq suffered with COVID-19 herself but made sure she gave her patients the very best care

Dr Sadif Rafiq is the newest member of the Lionhearts having been hand-picked by England’s very own Karen Bardsley

The Wilmslow doctor has been recognised for her tireless efforts to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and twice recovering from the virus herself. 

The Lionesses goalkeeper "just had to include" Dr Rafiq in the squad when she heard about all the hard work and dedication that has gone into the treatment of patients. 

Bardsley surprised the doctor with a video call to share the good news and find out more about what goes on behind the scenes within the NHS. 


“As doctors, we would normally practice based on evidence but one of the most challenging things has been working without that evidence-basis because coronavirus is something completely new,” said Dr Rafiq. 

“As we've moved through the pandemic the rules and the guidance has changed while we’ve been treating patients and that has been pretty overwhelming. 

“There's been a lot of anxiety among doctors, patients and family members so it has been a pretty tough year to say the least."

Dr Rafiq suffered from COVID-19 early in the year and although being bed-ridden by the virus, still made the time to ensure her patients were given the best care possible.

Dr Rafiq with the #13 shirt at her home in Wilmslow

She then contracted the virus again in June and was stricken with fatigue that took months to get over, but still she worked tirelessly alongside her colleagues to combat the virus. 

Now she is optimistic that we have seen the worst of the virus and told Bardsley that she couldn’t have done it without the help of her fellow NHS workers. 

“I feel really humbled and blessed to have been nominated,” she said.

“I’m really proud to be part of the NHS because everyone has come together to work as a team.

“Even though we are stretched, we will stay until whatever time it takes to get the job done and that is something I want to be a part of - it’s why I get up in the morning.

“I am also really proud of all my colleagues too because we’ve all been doing the same thing. 

“I do feel as though there is light at the end of the tunnel now though.”

Dr Rafiq was hand-picked for the Lionhearts by Lionesses goalkeeper Karen Bardlsey

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.

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.

8. Mehdi Tahero - His restaurant Fuel Catering helped to feed frontline workers and members of the local community in Plymouth throughout 2020.

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.

13. Dr Sadif Rafiq - The Cheshire-based GP suffered twice from COVID-19 but continued to tirelessly support her patients.

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 Tom Dean