Terry Waite
Terry Waite CBE
British honours system
The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories...

 (born 31 May 1939 in Bollington
Bollington is a small rural town and civil parish in the county of Cheshire, , England, in the unitary authority of Cheshire East. It is located east of Prestbury. In the Middle Ages it was part of the Earl of Chester's manor of Macclesfield., and the ancient parish of Prestbury...

, Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

) is an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 humanitarian and author.

Waite was Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
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. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 Robert Runcie
Robert Runcie
Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, Baron Runcie, PC, MC was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991.-Early life:...

's Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs in the 1980s. As an envoy for the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, he travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages including journalist John McCarthy
John McCarthy (journalist)
John Patrick McCarthy CBE is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster, and one of the hostages in the Lebanon hostage crisis...

. He was himself held captive between 1987 and 1991.

He is also 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
Homelessness describes the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are unable or unwilling to acquire and maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country...


Early life

The son of a village policeman, Waite was educated at Stockton Heath County Secondary school where he became head boy
Head boy
Head Boy and Head Girl are terms commonly used in the British education system, and in private schools throughout the Commonwealth.-United Kingdom:...

. Although his parents were only nominally religious, he showed a commitment to Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 from an early age.

Early career

Waite joined the Grenadier Guards
Grenadier Guards
The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and, as such, is the most senior regiment of infantry. It is not, however, the most senior regiment of the Army, this position being attributed to the Life Guards...

 at Caterham
Caterham is a town in the Tandridge District of Surrey, England. The town is geographically divided into two sections: Caterham on the Hill and Caterham Valley - the main town centre. The town lies close to the A22, a few miles south of Croydon, in a valley cut into the dip slope of the North Downs...

 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
Church Army
Church Army is an evangelistic Church of England organisation operating in many parts of the Anglican Communion.-History:Church Army was founded in England in 1882 by the Revd Wilson Carlile , who banded together in an orderly army of soldiers, officers, and a few working men and women, whom he and...

, the evangelistic arm of the Anglican Church, 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
Bishop of Bristol
The Bishop of Bristol heads the Church of England Diocese of Bristol in the Province of Canterbury, in England.The present diocese covers parts of the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire together with a small area of Wiltshire...

, Oliver Tomkins, and assisted with Tomkins's implementation of the SALT (Stewardship and Laity Training) programme in the diocese, along with the Rev. Canon Basil Moss
Basil Moss
Basil Moss is a British character actor, who featured regularly on television in the 1960s and on radio in the 1970s.-Early life:He was educated at St Paul's School, which he followed with actor's training.-Acting career:...

. This position required Waite to master psychological T-group methods, with the aim of promoting increased active involvement from the laity of the Church. During this time, he married Helen Frances Watters. As a student, Waite was greatly influenced by the teachings of the Rev. Ralph Baldry.

In 1969, he moved to Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 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, Frances, and their four children, Waite witnessed the Idi Amin
Idi Amin
Idi Amin Dada was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946. Eventually he held the rank of Major General in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its Commander before seizing power in the military...

 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
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where, from 1972, he worked as an International Consultant to the Medical Mission Sisters
Medical Mission Sisters
The Medical Mission Sisters are a religious congregation of women in the Roman Catholic Church founded in 1925 and dedicated to providing the poor of the world better access to health care. They were formerly officially known as the "Society of the Catholic Medical Missions".-History:The...

, 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

Terry Waite returned to the U.K. in 1978, where he took a job with the British Council of Churches. In 1980, then Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
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. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, Dr Robert Runcie
Robert Runcie
Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, Baron Runcie, PC, MC was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991.-Early life:...

, appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
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. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

's Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs, on the recommendation of Tomkins and Bishop John Howe. Based at Lambeth Palace
Lambeth Palace
Lambeth Palace is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in England. It is located in Lambeth, on the south bank of the River Thames a short distance upstream of the Palace of Westminster on the opposite shore. It was acquired by the archbishopric around 1200...

, 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
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and had responsibility for travels to Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Burma, the United States, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the Caribbean, and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...


Hostage negotiator

In 1980, Waite successfully negotiated the release of several hostages in Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

: the Rev. Iraj Mottahedeh (Anglican priest in Esfahan), Dimitri Bellos (diocesan officer), the Rev. Nosrat Sharifian (Anglican priest in Kerman), Fazeli (church member), Jean Waddell (who was secretary to the Iranian Anglican bishop Hassan Dehqani-Tafti
Hassan Dehqani-Tafti
The Right Reverend Hassan Barnaba Dehqani-Tafti was the Anglican Bishop of Iran from 1961 until his retirement in 1990. Dehqani-Tafti was the first ethnic Persian to become a Christian bishop of Iran since the 7th century and the Islamic conquest of Persia...

), John Coleman
John Coleman
John Douglas Coleman was an Australian rules footballer and coach for Essendon in the Victorian Football League ....

, and Coleman's wife. On 10th Nov 1984, he negotiated with Colonel Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 for the release of the four remaining British hostages held in the Libyan Hostage Situation
Libyan Hostage Situation 1984
The Libyan Hostage Situation began on the night of the murder of WPC Fletcher, April 17, 1984 and lasted until February 5, 1985 . In accordance with the hostage release agreement that no negative media be released about the Libyan government under the Gaddafi regime, all information has been...

, Michael Berdinner, Alan Russell, Malcolm Anderson and Robin Plummer and was again successful.

From 1985, Waite became involved in hostage negotiation in Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, and he assisted in successful negotiations which secured the release of Lawrence Jenco
Lawrence Jenco
Servite Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, , a native of Joliet, Illinois, was taken hostage in Beirut by five armed men in January 1985, while serving as director of Catholic Relief Services there. He was held for 564 days before being released and allowed to return to the United States. He died in...

 and David Jacobsen. His use of an American helicopter to travel secretly between Cyprus and Lebanon and his appearance with Capt. Oliver North
Oliver North
Oliver Laurence North is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, political commentator, host of War Stories with Oliver North on Fox News Channel, a military historian, and a New York Times best-selling author....

, 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. He arrived in Beirut on 12 January 1987 with the intention of negotiating with the Islamic Jihad Organization
Islamic Jihad Organization
The Islamic Jihad Organization – IJO or Organisation du Jihad Islamique in French, but best known as ‘Islamic Jihad’ for short, was a fundamentalist Shia group known for its activities in the 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War...

, which was holding the men. On 20 January 1987, he agreed to meet with 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 total solitary confinement, and it was not until 18 November 1991 that he was released.

Release and after

Following his release he was elected a Fellow Commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Trinity Hall is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. It is the fifth-oldest college of the university, having been founded in 1350 by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich.- Foundation :...

, England, where he wrote his first book, Taken on Trust. This quickly became an international best-seller, and headed the lists in the U.K. and elsewhere. He also decided to make a career change, and determined to devote himself to study, writing, lecturing, and humanitarian activities. His second book, Footfalls in Memory, was published in the U.K. in 1995, and was also 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
Robert Runcie
Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, Baron Runcie, PC, MC was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991.-Early life:...


Waite has also contributed articles to many journals and periodicals, ranging from Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest is a general interest family magazine, published ten times annually. Formerly based in Chappaqua, New York, its headquarters is now in New York City. It was founded in 1922, by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace...

 to the Kipling Journal, and has also supplied articles and forewords to many books. In 1992, Durham University
Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...

 awarded him an honorary degree. He currently holds the position of Visiting Fellow
Visiting fellow
A visiting fellow is an academic, often a senior academic, who is undertaking research at a different institution than his or her main institution for a limited period of time, often but not necessarily at a foreign institution. A visiting fellow can be paid or unpaid; sometimes the salary is paid...

at Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...


In January 1996, he became patron of the Warrington Male Voice Choir
Warrington Male Voice Choir
Warrington Male Voice Choir is one of Great Britain’s oldest choirs, tracing its formation to 1898. During its long history the choir has travelled widely and has performed in many famous concert halls and cathedrals throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and Canada...

 in recognition of the humanitarian role adopted by the choir following the Warrington bomb attacks
Warrington bomb attacks
The Warrington bombings were two separate bombing attacks that happened during early 1993 in Warrington, England. The first attack happened in February when a bomb exploded at a district pressure gas storage facility. It caused extensive damage but no injuries; however, a police officer was shot...

. Since then, he has appeared with the choir for performances in prisons in England and Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 to assist rehabilitation programmes. Prison concerts have become a regular feature of the choir’s Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...


He is also a co-founder of Y Care International, a development agency linked to the YMCA
The Young Men's Christian Association is a worldwide organization of more than 45 million members from 125 national federations affiliated through the World Alliance of YMCAs...

 movement. Recently he founded Hostage UK, an organisation designed to give support to hostage families. He is also president of Emmaus UK, and patron of the Romany Society
George Bramwell Evens
The Rev. George Bramwell Evens was, under the pseudonym Romany , a British radio broadcaster and writer on countryside and natural history matters - quite possibly the first to broadcast on such issues...


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.

Waite was awarded an honorary degree (D.Univ) by the Open University
Open University
The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...

 at an award ceremony in Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon...

 on 30 May 2009.

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
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...


In popular culture

  • Waite was the subject of a song by the British post-punk
    Post-punk is a rock music movement with its roots in the late 1970s, following on the heels of the initial punk rock explosion of the mid-1970s. The genre retains its roots in the punk movement but is more introverted, complex and experimental...

     group, The Fall, in 1986, entitled Terry Waite Sez.
  • Before he was taken hostage, the satyrical programme, Spitting Image
    Spitting Image
    Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show that aired on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989....

    , featured a puppet of Waite returning from his foreign trips laden with duty-free goods which he would bring surreptitiously to an eagerly waiting Robert Runcie.
  • The term Terry is synonymous with the method of cutting a straight line into the back of someone’s hair on the nape of the neck. This is due to the rhyming slang Terry Waite - Straight.
  • Robin Soans
    Robin Soans
    Robin Soans is an actor, and a playwright specialising in verbatim and documentary plays. These plays include Across the Divide ; A State Affair which looked at life on a Bradford estate, produced by Out of Joint theatre company; The Arab Israeli Cookbook ; Talking to Terrorists Robin Soans (born...

     used an interview with Waite as a character for his verbatim-style play Talking to Terrorists. The interview is used as the dialogue for the character, Archbishop's Envoy.
  • Chris Ryan
    Chris Ryan
    Sergeant ‘Chris Ryan’ MM is the pseudonym of a former British Special Forces operative and soldier turned novelist...

    s book, Strike Back, centred the first part of the book's plot around an SAS
    Special Air Service
    Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

     raid on a site where Terry Waite was being held in an attempt to free him and the two other hostages.

External links

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