India 'Street Medicine' Pioneer Jack Preger (1950, PPE) retires aged 88

11 Mar 2019

Alumnus Dr Jack Preger is returning to London after 40 years supporting the poor

Dr Jack Preger (1950, PPE), a celebrated ‘street physician’, has retired at the age of 88 to return to the UK. Dr Preger has worked tirelessly over the course of 40 years to provide medical care for the poor in Kolkata, India.

After graduating from the Hall Dr Preger initially ran a remote cliff-side farm near Cardigan in Wales until one day in 1965, while driving his tractor, he felt a sudden and unexpected impulse to retrain as a doctor. He completed his medical education as a mature student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland at the age of 42.

In 1972 Dr Preger began offering his medical services in refugee camps in recently independent Bangladesh, subsequently setting up a medical clinic in Dhaka. However, on discovering and exposing a child-smuggling racket in the country, Dr Preger was arrested and deported. He set up a street clinic in Kolkata, India and it was here that Dr Preger dedicated the next 40 years of his life.

Dr Preger initially administered free medical treatment for the destitute and homeless in makeshift ‘street clinics’, often helping up to 500 patients a day. In 1980, after some 14 years under tarpaulins, Dr Preger established Calcutta Rescue to support disadvantaged people in West Bengal with medical care and educational and support services. This award-winning charity is still helping impoverished people in the area today.

He was awarded an MBE in 1993 for his “continued perseverance and incredible selflessness” and has recently been the subject of Docteur Jack, a documentary released in 2016 by film maker and photo-journalist Benoit Lange. In 2017 he became the first living non-Asian to win an Asian Award when he was named Philanthropist of the Year.

The Hall is proud to count Dr Preger as an Aularian, and we wish him every success and happiness in his well-deserved retirement.

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