Dr Jack Preger MBE, founder of Calcutta Rescue, 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.