Terry Waite

Last updated

Terry Waite

Terry Waite April 1993.jpg
Waite in October 1992
Terence Hardy Waite

(1939-05-31) 31 May 1939 (age 80)
OccupationHumanitarian, author

Terence Hardy Waite 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.

After his release he wrote a book about his experiences and became involved in humanitarian causes and charitable work.

Early life

The son of a village policeman in Styal, Cheshire, Waite was educated at Stockton Heath County Secondary school where he became head boy. 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.

Early career

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. 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 advisor 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. As a student, Waite was greatly influenced by the teachings of Ralph Baldry.

In 1969, he moved to Uganda where he worked as Provincial Training Advisor 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 this war-torn region.

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.

Archbishop's special envoy

Waite returned to the UK 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. Based at Lambeth Palace, Waite again travelled extensively throughout the world and had a responsibility for the archbishop's diplomatic and ecclesiastical exchanges. 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.

Hostage negotiator

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. On 10 November 1984, he negotiated with Colonel Gaddafi 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.

From 1985, Waite became involved in hostage negotiation in Lebanon and assisted in negotiations which secured the release of Lawrence Jenco and David Jacobsen. His use of an American helicopter to travel secretly between Cyprus and Lebanon and his appearance with Lt Colonel Oliver North, however, meant that he was compromised when the Irangate scandal broke. Against advice, Waite felt a need to demonstrate his continuing trust and integrity, and his commitment to the remaining hostages.

Captivity and release

Waite arrived in Beirut on 12 January 1987 with the intention of negotiating with the Islamic Jihad Organization, which was holding the men. 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. Waite remained in captivity for 1,763 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was finally released on 18 November 1991.

Release and after

Following his release he was elected a fellow commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he wrote his first book, Taken on Trust , an account of his captivity in Lebanon. It became a best-seller in the UK and internationally.

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.

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. [2]

Charity work

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. 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.

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. [3] He is a patron of AbleChildAfrica and Habitat for Humanity Great Britain. He is also president of Emmaus UK, a charity for formerly homeless people and patron of the Romany Society and patron for Strode Park Foundation in Kent.

Faith perspective

Waite has a particular regard for Eastern Orthodoxy and the writings of Carl Jung. In 2008, he joined the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers. [4]

In 2004, Waite returned to Beirut for the first time since his release from captivity. 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." [5]

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. [6]

Awards and honours

In 1992, Waite received the Four Freedoms Award for the Freedom of Worship. [7]

In 1992, Durham University made him an honorary Doctor of Civil Law. [8] In 2001, Anglia Ruskin University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Philosophy. [9] On 30 May 2009, at a ceremony in Ely Cathedral, the Open University made him an honorary D.Univ. [10] He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Chester in 2009. [11]

In 2006 he was elected a visiting fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Archbishop of Canterbury Senior bishop of the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury (2002–2012)

Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth,, is a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012. Previously the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, Williams was the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England.

Terry A. Anderson American journalist

Terry A. Anderson is an American journalist. He reported for the Associated Press. In 1985, he was taken hostage by Shiite Hezbollah militants or the Islamic Jihad Organization and held until 1991. In 2004, he ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio State Senate.

Servite Father Lawrence Martin Jenco,, a native of Joliet, Illinois, United States, was an American Catholic priest famous for being held hostage in Beirut, Lebanon by Islamic radicals. He was held for 564 days before being released and allowed to return to the United States. He died in Illinois, of cancer, in 1996. He is buried in The Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

George Carey Anglican bishop

George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton, is a retired Anglican bishop who was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, having previously been the Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 2018 the UK Child Sex Abuse Report found Carey had committed serious breaches of duty in covering up child sex abuse within the Church. In June 2017 he resigned from his last formal role in the church after a finding that he had covered up child sex abuse allegations against Peter Ball (bishop).

John Patrick McCarthy is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster, and one of the hostages in the Lebanon hostage crisis. McCarthy was the United Kingdom's longest-held hostage in Lebanon, where he was a prisoner for more than five years.

Robert Runcie Archbishop of Canterbury

Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, Baron Runcie was a British Anglican bishop. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991, having previously been Bishop of St Albans. He travelled the world widely to spread ecumenicism and worked to foster relations with both Protestant and Catholic churches across Europe. He was a leader of the Liberal Anglo-Catholicism movement. He came under attack for expressing compassion towards bereaved Argentinians after the Falklands War of 1982, and generated controversy by supporting women's ordination. Biographer Adrian Hastings argues that Runcie was not a distinguished writer or thinker, but was a good administrator who made shrewd appointments, demanded quality, and recognized good performances.

Michael Ramsey Archbishop of Canterbury

Arthur Michael Ramsey, Baron Ramsey of Canterbury, was an English Anglican bishop and life peer. He served as the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury. He was appointed on 31 May 1961 and held the office until 1974, having previously been appointed Bishop of Durham in 1952 and the Archbishop of York in 1956.

Brian Keenan is a Northern Irish writer whose work includes the book An Evil Cradling, an account of the four and a half years he spent as a hostage in Beirut, Lebanon from 11 April 1986 to 24 August 1990.

Dr Thomas Sutherland, Dean of Agriculture at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad members near his Beirut home on June 9, 1985. He was released on November 18, 1991 at the same time as Terry Waite, having been held hostage for 2,353 days.

Anthony John Russell is a retired British Church of England bishop. He was the Bishop of Dorchester from 1988 to 2000 and Bishop of Ely from 2000 to 2010.

The Lebanon hostage crisis was the kidnapping in Lebanon of 104 foreign hostages between 1982 and 1992, when the Lebanese Civil War was at its height. The hostages were mostly Americans and Western Europeans, but 21 national origins were represented. At least eight hostages died in captivity; some were murdered, while others died from lack of adequate medical attention to illnesses.

David John Penman was the 10th Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne.

Trevor Willmott is a British retired bishop in the Church of England. He served as Bishop of Basingstoke from 2002 to 2009 and then Bishop of Dover from 2010 until his retirement in 2019. In retirement, he remains bishop for the Channel Islands.

Jackie Mann was a British RAF fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, who in later life was kidnapped by Islamists in Lebanon in May 1989, and held hostage for more than two years.

Clive Malcolm Gregory is a British Anglican bishop. Since 2007, he has served as the Bishop of Wolverhampton, an area bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield.

John Richard Allan Llewellin is a retired Anglican bishop in the Church of England.

Christopher John Mayfield is a retired Anglican bishop of the Church of England.

Pope John Paul IIs visit to the United Kingdom

The visit of Pope John Paul II to the United Kingdom in 1982 was the first visit there by a reigning Pope. The Pope arrived in the UK on Friday 28 May, and during his time there visited nine cities, delivering 16 major addresses. Among significant events were a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, a joint service alongside the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie at Canterbury Cathedral, meeting with and addressing the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at The Mound, and five large open air Masses in London, Coventry, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff. Following his six-day visit which took him to locations in England, Scotland and Wales, he returned to the Vatican on 2 June.

The Libyan hostage situation began on the morning of the murder of WPC Fletcher, 17 April 1984 and lasted until 5 February 1985. In accordance with the hostage release agreement, reporting on the incident was restricted until the fall of Gadaffi in 2011.


  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. "Bush attacks Iran over captives". BBC News. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  3. "Our patrons". Storybook Dads. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  4. "Terry Waite: The joy of inner quietness". Mature Times. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  5. "Ex-hostage Waite free from bitterness". BBC. 19 February 2004.
  6. "Terry Waite returns to Lebanon 25 years after kidnapping". The Guardian. London. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  7. "Four Freedoms Awards". Roosevelt Institute. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  8. "Honorary Degrees". University of Durham. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  9. "Terry Waite CBE Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, 2001". Anglia Ruskin University. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  10. "Conferment of Honorary Degrees and Presentation of Graduates (2009)" (PDF). The Open University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2010.
  11. "Universities Week - Monday 13th June 2011". Chester.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  12. "Speakers – Terry Waite". Edinburgh International Science Festival. Retrieved 8 October 2015.