The newest members of the Lionhearts squad have been revealed as husband and wife Dr Meenal Viz and Dr Nishant Joshi.
Both Dr Viz and Dr Joshi were treating patients suffering from COVID-19 but filed for judicial review in the High Court after noticing a mismatch between the UK government guidance on PPE and the World Heath Organisation’s.
To complicate matters further, Dr Viz was pregnant and working 12-hour shifts for the first half of the year before giving birth to healthy daughter, Radhika, on 14 July.
Now, after an anxiety-filled 2020 Dr Viz and her husband remain focused on providing the best care for their patients as the country continues to battle the onslaught from COVID-19.
When the pandemic started, Dr. Meenal Viz and Dr. Nishant Joshi recognised our amazing healthcare workers needed better protection. They have campaigned tirelessly for change since and made a huge difference 👏— England (@England) December 17, 2020
Today we welcome them to our squad of #Lionhearts! pic.twitter.com/jGrnLwWIVo
“At the very start of the year we saw how the pandemic was coming into our country and our main worry was how we, as doctors, were going to protect the public,” said Dr Viz.
“Firstly we had to protect our healthcare workers and we saw that they needed more protective gear. If they had that then we could save more members of the public - so we began to campaign.
“We knew that our campaign would be taxing but I think sitting back and doing nothing would have been worse for us.
“Being active during this time, when the public and our colleagues needed us, has given us hope that we can make positive change in society."
Dr Viz was featured on the front cover of Vogue magazine in September and continues to be active in the media.
Meanwhile it has also been a testing year for Dr Joshi who had to watch from a distance as his wife carried his unborn child to and from the hospital both for work and for scans of her own.
“We ended up living on floors in our house because I didn’t want to risk infecting Meenal while she was pregnant”, said Dr Joshi.
“Now to be called up by the Lionhearts is certainly one of the greatest honours in my life - I always wanted to play for England but I gave up on the dream about 15 years ago. Maybe it’s not too late though!”
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.
11. Dr Meenal Viz & Dr Nishant Joshi - Couple campaigning for better PPE for their NHS colleagues.
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