Calcutta Rescue Fund
Health, Education and Hope
Dr Jack Preger MBE was named Philanthropist of the Year at a star-studded Asian Awards ceremony in London (Friday, May 5 2017).
The award recognises his extraordinary contribution to helping the poorest of the poor in Kolkata for the past 38 years.
It is the first time a living person not of Asian origin has been honoured at the awards, though Mother Teresa received a posthumous award last year.
During the presentation at the Park Lane Hilton by actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, Dr Jack, as he is known, was described as: “truly an outstanding individual who defines the meaning of philanthropy.”
Dr Jack told the audience, which included cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and London’s mayor Sadiq Khan plus a host of other celebrities: “This is an incredible honour for me. This award gives my organisation, Calcutta Rescue, street med cred - and that’s a great help in this country for our support groups raising funds. It’s a great help in Kolkata. Financially it really is so difficult to keep an organisation going nowadays.
The fact that I’m not Asian makes it even more impressive this award than for me receiving it.
Jaydeep Chakraborty, chief executive of Calcutta Rescue, said: “Dr Jack has selflessly and quietly gone about his work of serving some of the poorest citizens in the world. He leads an almost monastic existence.
“The entire team at Calcutta Rescue feels tremendous pride that Dr Jack’s work is finally beginning to be recognised.”
Now 86, Dr Jack still lives in Kolkata helping run Calcutta Rescue, motivating staff, caring for patients and continuing to inspire supporters around the globe.
About Dr Jack:
Jack Preger was born in Manchester in 1930 and studied at Oxford before becoming a farmer in Wales. Driving his tractor one day, a mysterious voice told him to become a doctor - prompting him to start studying for a degree in medicine at the age of 35.
Following a radio appeal, he went out to the newly-created Bangladesh where he established a 90-bed clinic for war refugees and two farms where they could live and work.
But he was deported in 1979 after exposing a child-smuggling ring.
He flew to Calcutta, where he began providing free medical care to some of the multitudes living on the streets in abject poverty.
Alone at first, and with very little money, he opened his medical bag and started treating patients on the pavement under a flyover. Over time, Western travellers who saw the vital work he was doing stopped to offer money and help.
Despite repeated challenges, from crime bosses to hostile bureaucrats who forced him to fight repeated legal battles, even throwing him in jail at one point, he set up a charity, Calcutta Rescue, and established a series of street clinics and schools which have helped more than half a million people over the past 38 years.
In 1993 he was made an MBE for his “continued perseverance and incredible selflessness”.
About the Asian Awards
The awards were set up in 2010 and recognise exemplary achievement by Asians around the globe.
Former winners include Sachin Tendulkar, Ratan Tata, Jackie Chan, Ravi Shankar and John Rocha.
Dr Jack is the first person to be named Philanthropist of the Year since 2013 when the father of the Indian IT sector, Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, received the award for his support for a wide range of philanthropic initiatives and institutions including the UN Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
This year’s judges included the head of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, and Colin Jackson the world champion sprinter and TV presenter.