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Terry Waite

Terry Waite
Waite in April 1993.
Born Terence Hardy Waite
(1939-05-31) 31 May 1939
Bollington, Cheshire, England
Occupation Humanitarian, author

Terence Hardy "Terry" 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.

He is president of the charity Y Care International (the YMCA's international development and relief agency) and patron of AbleChildAfrica and Habitat for Humanity Great Britain. He is also president of Emmaus UK, a charity for formerly homeless people.


  • Early life 1
  • Early career 2
  • Archbishop's Special Envoy 3
    • Hostage negotiator 3.1
  • Release and after 4
  • Faith perspective 5
  • In popular culture 6
  • Awards and honours 7
  • See also 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • References 10

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 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 the Revd Canon 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 the Revd Ralph Baldry.

In 1969, he moved to Uganda where he worked as Provincial Training Advisor to Eric 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, he and his wife narrowly escaping 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: the Revd Iraj Mottahedeh (Anglican priest in Esfahan), Dimitri Bellos (diocesan officer), the Revd 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 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, UK, where he wrote his first book, Taken on Trust, an account of his captivity in Lebanon. It quickly 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 latest 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.

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.

He is also a co-founder of Romany Society.

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]

Faith perspective

Waite has a particular regard for Eastern Orthodoxy and the writings of C.G. Jung. In 2008, he joined the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers.[3]

Waite returned to Beirut in December 2012 to reconcile with his captors and lay to rest the ghosts of the past.[4]

In popular culture

Awards and honours

In 1992, Waite received the Four Freedoms Award for the Freedom of Worship.[5]

In 1992, Durham University made him an honorary Doctor of Civil Law.[6] In 2001, Anglia Ruskin University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Philosophy.[7] On 30 May 2009, at a ceremony in Ely Cathedral, the Open University made him an honorary D.Univ.[8] He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Chester in 2009.[9]

In 2006 he was elected a Visiting Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.[10]

See also


  • Barnes, Trevor (1987). Terry Waite: Man with a Mission. London: Collins Fontana.  
  • Bell, Ni (2011). In The Footsteps of War: Ninety Years of Remembrance. London: Brimar Entertainment.  


  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Daily Telegraph (London). 31 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014. Mr Terry Waite, writer and lecturer; adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Anglican Communion Affairs, 1980-92; held hostage in the Middle East from January 1987 to November 1991, 74 
  2. ^ "Bush attacks Iran over captives". BBC News. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Terry Waite: The joy of inner quietness". Mature Times. Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  4. ^ "Terry Waite returns to Lebanon 25 years after kidnapping". The Guardian (London). 9 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Four Freedoms Awards". Roosevelt Institute. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Honorary Degrees". University of Durham. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Terry Waite CBE Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, 2001". Anglia Ruskin University. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Conferment of Honorary Degrees and Presentation of Graduates (2009)" (PDF). The Open University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "Universities Week - Monday 13th June 2011". Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Speakers – Terry Waite". Edinburgh International Science Festival. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
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