Forty years after he first opened his medical bag and started treating the poorest of the poor on the pavements of Kolkata, Calcutta Rescue founder Dr Jack Preger MBE has decided to retire at the age of 88.
In that time Dr Jack and Calcutta Rescue have helped more than 500,000 people. The British doctor is widely regarded as the grandfather of street medicine, and helped pioneer many of the practices now used to treat the poor around the globe, including work on tuberculosis, leprosy and AIDS.
Despite his age and failing eyesight, Dr Jack has continued to play an important role in guiding Calcutta Rescue. He frequently visited the clinics, where he used his wisdom and huge experience to ensure patients received the best possible care.
Dr Jack said he had great confidence in the charity’s Chief Executive, Jaydeep Chakraborty, and the management team, and appealed for people to continue to support the charity after his departure.
Dr Jack added: “I’d like to say thank you to all of the staff for making Calcutta Rescue what it is. Many have spent most of their working lives with us. I hope that tradition of kindness and respect for all those who are in our care, whether it be the children we educate, our staff or our patients, is there for as long as this organisation continues. I very much hope it will continue for many more years to come.”
Mr Chakraborty said: “Dr Jack has selflessly and quietly gone about his work of serving some of the poorest citizens in the world. Those of us who work with him have seen the manner in which he has done it and the things he has given up – he leads an almost monastic existence.
“He is one in 10 million. We are never going to have another Dr Jack. But we have Calcutta Rescue, the organisation he founded. What he has created for the people of Kolkata and West Bengal is immense, and those people still need Calcutta Rescue’s help.”