Terry Waite

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Terry Waite

Waite in September 2016
Terence Hardy Waite

(1939-05-31) 31 May 1939 (age 84)
Bollington, Cheshire, England, United Kingdom
  • Humanitarian
  • Author
  • Hostage Negotiator

Sir Terence Hardy Waite KCMG CBE (born 31 May 1939[1]) is an English humanitarian and author.

Waite was the Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, in the 1980s. As an envoy for the Church of England, he travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991.[2]

After his release he wrote Taken on Trust (1994), a memoir about his experiences, and became involved in humanitarian causes and charitable work.

Early life and career[edit]

The son of a village policeman in Styal, Cheshire, Waite was educated at Stockton Heath County Secondary School where he became head boy.[3][4] Although his parents were only nominally religious, he showed a commitment to Christianity from an early age and later became a Quaker and an Anglican.

Waite joined the Grenadier Guards at Caterham Barracks, but an allergy to a dye in the uniform obliged him to depart after a few months.[5] He then considered a monastic life, but instead joined the Church Army, a social welfare organisation of the Anglican Church modelled on the Salvation Army, undergoing training and studies in London. While he was held captive in the 1980s, many Church Army officers wore a simple badge with the letter "H" on it to remind people that one of their members was still a hostage and was being supported in prayer daily by them and many others.

In 1963, Waite was appointed education adviser to the Anglican Bishop of Bristol, Oliver Tomkins, and assisted with Tomkins's implementation of the SALT (Stewardship and Laity Training) programme in the diocese, along with Basil Moss. This position required Waite to master psychological T-group methods, with the aim of promoting increased active involvement from the laity. During this time he married Helen Frances Watters.[6] As a student, Waite was greatly influenced by the teachings of Ralph Baldry.[7]

In 1969, he moved to Uganda where he worked as Provincial Training Adviser to Erica Sabiti, the first African Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and, in that capacity, travelled extensively throughout East Africa. Together with his wife and their four children, Waite witnessed the Idi Amin coup in Uganda and he and his wife narrowly escaped death on several occasions. From his office in Kampala, Waite founded the Southern Sudan Project and was responsible for developing aid and development programmes for the region.[8]

His next post was in Rome where, from 1972, he worked as an international consultant to the Medical Mission Sisters, a Roman Catholic order seeking to adapt to the leadership reforms of Vatican II. From this base, he travelled extensively throughout Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, conducting and advising on programmes concerned with institutional change and development, inter-cultural relations, group and inter-group dynamics and a broad range of development issues connected with health and education.[8]

Archbishop's special envoy[edit]

Waite returned to the United Kingdom in 1978, where he took a job with the British Council of Churches. In 1980, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, appointed him the Archbishop of Canterbury's Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs on the recommendation of Tomkins and Bishop John Howe.[9][10] Based at Lambeth Palace, Waite again travelled extensively throughout the world and had a responsibility for the Archbishop's diplomatic and ecclesiastical exchanges.[10] He arranged and travelled with the Archbishop on the first ever visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury to China and had responsibility for travels to Australia, New Zealand, Burma, the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South Africa.[4][11]

Hostage negotiator[edit]

In 1980, Waite successfully negotiated the release of several hostages in Iran: Iraj Mottahedeh (Anglican priest in Esfahan), Dimitri Bellos (diocesan officer), Nosrat Sharifian (Anglican priest in Kerman), Fazeli (church member), Jean Waddell (who was secretary to the Iranian Anglican bishop Hassan Dehqani-Tafti), Canon John Coleman and Coleman's wife.[12] On 10 November 1984, he negotiated with Colonel Gaddafi[13] for the release of the four remaining British hostages held in the Libyan Hostage Situation, Michael Berdinner, Alan Russell, Malcolm Anderson and Robin Plummer and was again successful.

Terry Waite in 1985

From 1985, Waite became involved in hostage negotiation in Lebanon and assisted in negotiations which secured the release of Lawrence Jenco and David Jacobsen.[14] American officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to the Khomeini government of Iran with a view to obtaining Iranian help in the release of hostages held in Lebanon. Waite's use of an American helicopter to travel secretly between Cyprus and Lebanon and his appearance with Lt Colonel Oliver North, meant that he was compromised when the Irangate scandal broke in 1986. Against advice, Waite felt a need to demonstrate his continuing trust and integrity, and his commitment to the remaining hostages.[15]

Captivity and release[edit]

Waite arrived in Beirut on 12 January 1987 with the intention of negotiating with the Islamic Jihad Organization, which was holding hostages, including Terry A. Anderson and Thomas Sutherland.[16] On 20 January 1987, he agreed to meet the captors of the hostages as he was promised safe conduct to visit the hostages, who, he was told, were ill. The group broke trust and took him hostage on 20 January 1987.[17][18] Waite remained in captivity for 1,763 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was released on 18 November 1991.[19]

Release and afterwards[edit]

Following his release he was elected a fellow commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he wrote his first book, Taken on Trust (1994), a memoir of his captivity in Lebanon. It became a best-seller in the UK and internationally.[20][21]

Waite decided to devote himself to study, writing, lecturing and humanitarian activities. His second book, Footfalls in Memory, a further meditation on his captivity in Lebanon, was published in the UK in 1995 and also became a best-seller. His most recent book, published in October 2000, Travels with a Primate, is a humorous account of his journeys with his former boss, Robert Runcie. Waite has also contributed articles to many journals and periodicals, ranging from Reader's Digest to the Kipling Journal, and has also supplied articles and forewords to many books.[citation needed]

In 2004, Waite returned to Beirut for the first time since his release. He told the BBC, "If you are bitter, it will eat you up and do more damage to you than to the people who have hurt you."[22]

On 31 March 2007, Waite offered to travel to Iran to negotiate with those holding British sailors and marines seized by Iran in disputed waters on 23 March 2007.[23]

Waite travelled again to Beirut in December 2012 to reconcile with his captors and lay to rest what he described as the ghosts of the past.[24]

Charity work[edit]

In January 1996, Waite became patron of the Warrington Male Voice Choir in recognition of the humanitarian role adopted by the choir following the Warrington bomb attacks.[25] Since then, he has appeared with the choir for performances in prisons in UK and Ireland to assist in rehabilitation programmes. Prison concerts have become a regular feature of the choir's Christmas activities.

Waite is co-founder and president of the charity Y Care International (YMCA's international development and relief agency) and in 2004, he founded Hostage UK, an organisation designed to give support to hostage families.[20][26] Waite became president of Emmaus UK, a charity for formerly homeless people, shortly after his release from captivity in 1991.[27][28]

He is patron of several organisations including Storybook Dads, a UK charity which allows prisoners to send recordings of themselves reading bedtime stories to their own children, to help stay connected to some of the 200,000 children affected by parental imprisonment each year. He is a patron of Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, the Romany Society and Strode Park Foundation in Kent.[28][29][30][31]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1991, following his release Waite was elected a fellow commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.[20] In 1992, Waite received the Four Freedoms Award for the Freedom of Worship.[32] In the same year, Durham University made him an honorary Doctor of Civil Law.[33] In 2001, Anglia Ruskin University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Philosophy.[34] On 30 May 2009, at a ceremony in Ely Cathedral, the Open University made him an honorary D.Univ.[35] He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Chester in 2009.[36]

In 2006 he was elected a visiting fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.[37]

Waite was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2023 Birthday Honours for services to charity and humanitarian work.[38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hostage Waite Gets Belated Birthday Wish". Los Angeles Times. 9 June 1989. Retrieved 12 December 2015. Friends and colleagues of Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite on Thursday sent him a belated birthday wish published in the independent newspaper An Nahar. Waite, who was kidnapped in Lebanon two and a half years ago, spent his 50th birthday on May 31 in captivity
  2. ^ "Kidnapped Waite returns to Beirut". BBC News. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  3. ^ Padman, Interview by Tony (13 May 2016). "Terry Waite: 'My children can be extremely stubborn. They get it from me'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b Waite, Terry (8 September 2016). Taken on Trust. John Murray Press. ISBN 978-1-4736-2757-4.
  5. ^ Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd (December 1993). ThirdWay. Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd. p. 28.
  6. ^ Trevor Barnes (1 June 1992). Terry Waite. Bethany House Publishers. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-55661-303-6.
  7. ^ Terry Waite (8 September 2016). Taken on Trust. John Murray Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-4736-2757-4.
  8. ^ a b "Terry Waite not bitter about nearly 5 years in captivity". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  9. ^ Waite, Terry (8 September 2016). Taken on Trust. John Murray Press. ISBN 978-1-4736-2757-4.
  10. ^ a b "Episcopal News Service: Press Release # 80150". www.episcopalarchives.org. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  11. ^ "AROUND THE WORLD; Anglican Prelate To Make a Visit to China". The New York Times. 21 December 1981. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  12. ^ Waite, Terry (8 September 2016). Taken on Trust. John Murray Press. ISBN 978-1-4736-2757-4.
  13. ^ "I remember: Terry Waite - Reader's Digest". www.readersdigest.co.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Lawrence Jenco, Roman Catholic Priest Held Hostage in Lebanon". AP NEWS. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Runcie 'considered sacking Waite before hostage trip'". The Independent. 19 October 1992. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  16. ^ Terry Waite. Taken on Trust. Hodder & Stoughton, 1993. p. 3,. ISBN 978-0-340-62452-4.
  17. ^ Ap (1 February 1987). "Abductors in Beirut Demand That Israel Free 400 Prisoners". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  18. ^ "1991: Church envoy Waite freed in Beirut". 18 November 1991. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  19. ^ "From the archive: Bells ring nationwide to welcome Terry Waite". www.churchtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  20. ^ a b c "Terry Waite - ARU". aru.ac.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Former hostage Terry Waite on why he seeks solitude in Suffolk". Financial Times. 4 August 2017. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Ex-hostage Waite free from bitterness". BBC. 19 February 2004.
  23. ^ "Bush attacks Iran over captives". BBC News. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  24. ^ "Terry Waite returns to Lebanon 25 years after kidnapping". The Guardian. London. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Concert to thank choir patron Terry Waite". Warrington Worldwide. 4 April 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  26. ^ Cooper, Ben (10 January 2019). "The Interview: Lara Symons, Director of Hostage International". Travel Risk Media. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Our leaders & ambassadors". Emmaus UK. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Ex-hostage Terry Waite reflects on 20 years of freedom". BBC News. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  29. ^ "Our patrons". Storybook Dads. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  30. ^ "Membership | The Romany Society". Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  31. ^ Strode Park Foundation Annual Report 2019-2020. p. 12.
  32. ^ "Four Freedoms Awards". Roosevelt Institute. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  33. ^ "Honorary Degrees". University of Durham. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  34. ^ "Terry Waite CBE Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, 2001". Anglia Ruskin University. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  35. ^ "Conferment of Honorary Degrees and Presentation of Graduates (2009)" (PDF). The Open University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2010.
  36. ^ "Universities Week - Monday 13th June 2011". Chester.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  37. ^ "Speakers – Terry Waite". Edinburgh International Science Festival. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  38. ^ "No. 64082". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2023. p. B3.
  39. ^ Hennessy, Ted (16 June 2023). "Former hostage Terry Waite says honour is 'peak' achievement". The Independent. Retrieved 16 June 2023.


  • Barnes, Trevor (1987). Terry Waite: Man with a Mission. London: Collins Fontana. ISBN 0-8028-0332-6.
  • Bell, Ni (2011). In The Footsteps of War: Ninety Years of Remembrance. London: Brimar Entertainment. ISBN 978-0-9570902-0-0.
  • Bell, Ni (2015). In The Footsteps of War: The Definitive Edition. London, United Kingdom: Brimar Entertainment. ISBN 978-0-9570902-6-2. [1]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Bell, Ni (2015). In the footsteps of war : ne obliviscaris spectemur agendo : the definitive edition. [Great Britain]. ISBN 978-0-9570902-6-2. OCLC 935450054.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)