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Bob Edgar - TLM Hero

A middle aged man in a three-piece suit smiles at the camera

Bob was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland as the oldest son in a strong Open Brethren family. He served in the Royal Flying Corps (predecessor of the RAF) in WW1, but was wounded over France (a wound he carried all his life) and sent home as he was underage.

Eventually migrating to Australia, he was a brilliant communicator and networker within and outside the Mission, which he served almost singlehandedly across all states of Australia. He became so synonymous to the cause that a letter to ‘Mr Leper, Melbourne’, found its way to him. Under Bob’s leadership, many auxiliaries were formed to faithfully support Mission endeavours, and he shared global information and stories on a weekly Melbourne radio programme.

The Leprosy Mission's Anandaban Hospital in Nepal, commenced with the placement of an Australian nurse, Deirdre Banks, and the installation of the ‘Edgar Ward’ for male patients(which later became the Mycobacterial Research Laboratory). Bob was involved in setting up Hay Ling Chau, the Hong Kong island for persons affected by leprosy (who were usually segregated in that era). Among other Christian leaders, Bob connected with Doug Nicholls, an Aboriginal pastor working for justice and rights of Australia’s most marginalised peoples.

Bob suffered a heart attack while preaching at the age of 62 and he died the day after his son Bill’s 21st birthday. Having fully supported Bob in his work, Pearl was invited to serve on the Council and served from 1961 -1978. Upon retirement Pearl was appointed a Life Member of The Leprosy Mission Australia

Bob's legacy continued through Bill

Bob’s son Bill carried on the baton for the family, beginning in 1964 on TLM Australia's Executive Committee. He continued is service in his home country by serving as Australian Director from 1977-1980 before moving to The Leprosy Mission International. From 1980-1985 he was the International Communications Director and from 1985-1992 he was the International General Director. In 1992, as TLM General Director, Bill became President of ILEP. Sadly within a few months he died from cancer – a great shock to TLM and the leprosy world, and the end of 50 years’ involvement. Bill’s wife Mary, a trained microbiologist, was by Bill’s side throughout his career. Mary continues her support of The Leprosy Mission Australia today.