The OD Issue 2 - page 9

2012 · issue 2
What do you recall of your
childhood in Oxford?
I have extraordinary memories of
Oxford during wartime. A church on the
Woodstock Road was a government feeding
centre; food was very scarce but people
could get hot meals there. Green Templeton
is just opposite it – I walk up the street
and remember being a child going to that
feeding centre.
I also remember the unbelievably cold
winter of 1947; I learned to skate on the
Dragon ‘ice rink’. Then there were incredible
floods and I remember looking from the
war memorial at school over the Cherwell
and as far as I could see was water. A master
said we would never see floods like it again
in our lives. That made a big impression –
and was true.
What was the major influence
of your Dragon days?
The First World War. The older masters had
all fought in or been connected to it – that
was their era, their war. They experienced
the loss of a generation of young men and
felt an obligation to teach and contribute to
the youth of the country.
What took you to America?
My father’s job in Atlanta. I wanted to stay
but didn’t get a scholarship to Oxford. The
move to America shaped my life; I graduated
frommedical school at 22, which put me on
“I was born at the Radcliffe Infirmary and I’m now at Green Templeton
College right next door – I haven’t really made much progress in my life”
a good track, and I did various things
I was
in the military in Vietnam, I was a hospital
intern in Seattle, then I was at Stanford.
How did you get involved
in politics?
I wanted to return to Atlanta because of the
Civil Rights Movement – California wasn’t
where the action was. I saw that the South
was going to have to be reincorporated
politically with the rest of America. I went
back with the desire to get involved. I can’t
say that I deliberately sought out somebody
I thought could be president, but that’s what
happened. I met Carter after he had run for
Governor (of the State of Georgia) and lost;
I urged him to stand again. Even had he not
gone on to the success he did, we would still
be good friends. I worked for him in the
Governor’s Office, was the deputy campaign
manager of his presidential campaign in
1976, then went to the White House with
him and we have just stayed close ever since.
What is your greatest
professional achievement?
Starting the eradication of Guinea worm –
a parasitic disease that has afflicted millions
of people through their drinking water. At
the UN, I launched a global campaign and
steady progress was made but it wasn’t a big
priority with poor countries. Then President
Carter came to stay with me in Wales and I
told him it was my most important work and
that if he got involved it could be eliminated
in his lifetime. He got behind it. There were
400,000 cases a year, now we’re down to 400
and it should be gone within five years.
Why llamas?
I spent some time in the Sudan and became
very enamoured with camel culture, but
I knew I could not have camels in Wales.
However, llamas are their close relatives
and I had seen them on farms in the US.
I was one of the first people to keep llamas
in Britain outside a zoo and today, with 80
animals, I have one of the largest herds in
the country.
What inspires you to stay
in touch with the Dragon?
I was so shaped by the Dragon, I even have
difficulty explaining it to my wife. Boarding
was so central and the bulk of my life from
8 to 14 was here. It was an all–encompassing
environment: Bruno Brown who produced
all the plays was big in the Communist Party
in Oxford, then there was a man called Dodd
who taught French who was head of the
League of Empire Loyalists and was about as
right wing as you could possibly be. Different
backgrounds, political and cultural ones, were
accepted in a wonderfully tolerant way, which
I do not think you would get at many schools.
For further information see:
Dr Peter Bourne
(OD 1953) today you could easily assume he had spent an entire career in
academia. He has held a list of illustrious education posts and written numerous articles and books
including noted biographies. But there is a great deal more to his professional life than that. Educated
as a physician and anthropologist, Dr Bourne is credited with encouraging Jimmy Carter to run for
presidential office and he worked closely with him in the White House. Peter led a major campaign to
reduce water-borne disease in Third World countries and is still an advisor to government, businesses
and non–profits. Now a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford, he
continues his work on international health systems. He divides his time between Washington, a farm
in Wales (where he raises llamas) and Oxford – where The OD magazine caught up with him.
The Bourne Trilogy:
Physician, Politician, Farmer
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,...28
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