Terry Waite CBE
Terry Waite CBE was born on May 31, 1939 in Cheshire, the son of a village policeman. He was educated in London and abroad, and has worked for much of his life from a Church base. After working with the Church of England Board of Education in the UK and as an adviser to the Bishop of Bristol he accepted a position as adviser to the first African Archbishop of Uganda. During his time in Uganda, Terry dealt directly with Idi Amin to champion the release of Ugandan and overseas prisoners who suffered as a result of the Amin coup. Following his time in Uganda he moved with his family to Rome, Italy and spent several years working on conflict resolution and development issues throughout the world.
In 1980 Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed Terry Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs to work with churches abroad. After a few months Terry played the key role in securing the release of several European and Iranian captives when they were held on spy charges in Tehran. Terry’s reputation as a special emissary was cemented when in 1984 he established contact with Colonel Muammar Gadaffi in Libya, where three Britons had been detained following the murder of a policewoman outside the Libyan Embassy in London, and was instrumental in aiding their release.
In 1987, Terry made a dangerous journey to Lebanon to negotiate for hostages there. This journey was made despite the threat to his own safety, and out of Terry’s commitment to advocate for the release of hostages as the only negotiator who had met the kidnappers face to face. He was captured on 20th January 1987 and spent almost five years in captivity, nearly four years of which were in solitary confinement. No information on his whereabouts or survival reaching the wider world for over four years. During his incarceration, he was blindfolded, beaten, and subjected to a mock execution. He lived much of the time chained to a wall in a room without natural light. In the final months of captivity he suffered from a severe chest infection which almost cost him his life. He was finally released in November 1991
After his release, Terry was elected to a fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he completed his first book Taken on Trust, that he had written in his memory during the years of captivity when he was without pencil or paper. Today he is deeply engaged in many humanitarian causes including the homeless, overseas development, prisoners. Terry has been awarded the MBE and CBE for his humanitarian work and is the recipient of many honorary doctorates from Universities both in the UK and abroad. He is married to Frances and they have four children and three grandchildren.
“I helped found Hostage UK as I believed that hostage families are helped by being able to talk with others who have been through the experience themselves – either as a hostage or as a family member. I also recognized the need for an independent organization to engage in research into hostage taking and to co-ordinate activities in this field.”