An emeritus Oxford University Fellow from Gloucestershire
has been presented with the first Honorary Fellowship from the charity that has
supported him since he lost his sight.
Dr Zbigniew Pełczyński OBE (Zbig), 93 and from
Moreton-In-Marsh, was presented with an Honorary Fellowship for research and
innovation by Blind Veterans UK at a prestigious ceremony held at Pembroke
College on March 4.
Blind Veterans UK’s Expert Advisory Group voted unanimously
to induct Zbig as the first Honorary Fellow because of his outstanding
contributions to research and innovation within welfare and social sciences.
As an Honorary Fellow, Zbig will contribute to the
development of research relevant to blind veterans and wider society.
Dr Zbigniew Pełczyński OBE says it’s a great honour to be
receiving this Honorary Fellowship from Blind Veterans UK at this late stage in
“I’ve benefited a lot from the support from the charity so
I’m delighted to be able to give something back,” he says. “The guidance I’ve
had from the Rehabilitation Officers on adapting my home to make sure I can
continue to live there has been invaluable.”
Zbig was born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland, and fought in
the 1944 Warsaw Uprising where he was taken prisoner by the Germans. After
liberation from a camp near Bremen, he joined the Polish First Armoured
Division under British command, and because of this was able to receive a grant
to study in Britain.
Dr Zbigniew Pełczyński OBE (Zbig), in 1946
After completing his DPhil thesis at Oxford University on
Hegel's minor political works in 1956 he was elected a Fellow of Pembroke
College Oxford and lecturer in politics. His subsequent publications made him a
world authority on Hegel, and resulted in Visiting Professorships and senior
scholarships at six foreign universities, ranging from Harvard to Jerusalem,
Australia and Japan.
After 1956, Zbig made regular visits to Poland and was
instrumental in developing several programmes for the education of students
from communist Europe at Oxford.
In 1982, he established a scholarship program for Polish
students at Oxford. Then in 1986, through collaboration with the
Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, who earlier had established the
Open Society Foundation, scholarships became available for Hungarian students
at Oxford and the Stefan Batory Foundation was established in Poland.
In the United States, Zbig is known for having been the
politics tutor at Oxford University for the Rhodes Scholar and future President
Bill Clinton, among a host of other American politicians and senior business
Dr Zbigniew Pełczyński OBE with Bill Clinton in The White House
Other famous students include prime minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán,
former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radek Sikorski and journalist and
biographer Walter Isaacson.
In 1994 Zbig founded the School for Young Social and
Political Leaders in Warsaw. The organisation, which subsequently changed its
name to the School for Leaders Foundation, states as one of its goals ‘creating
social capital based on leadership’. The organisation is going to celebrate its
25th anniversary this year.
The event began with a lunch in the Harold Lee Room attended
by The Lord Mayor of Oxford; Councillor Colin Cook, The Chief Constable of
Thames Valley Police; Francis Habgood QPM, The Commanding Officer of 3rd
Regiment Royal Logistics Corps; Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Cooke, CEO of Blind
Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, as well as other distinguished