Terry Waite was born in the county of Cheshire, England on the 31st May 1939. He was educated locally and received his higher education in London. On leaving college he was appointed as Education Adviser to the Anglican Bishop of Bristol, England and remained in that post until he moved to East Africa in 1969. In Uganda he worked as Provincial Training Adviser to the first African Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and that capacity travelled extensively throughout East Africa.
Together with his wife Frances and their four children he witnessed the Amin coup in Uganda and both he and his wife narrowly escaped death on several occasions. From his office in Kampala he founded the Southern Sudan Project and was responsible for developing programmes of aid and development for this war-torn region.
In 1972 he responded to an invitation to work as an International Consultant to a Roman Catholic Medical Order and moved with his family to live in Rome, Italy.
From this base he travelled extensively throughout Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe both 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 both health and education.
In 1980 he was recruited by the Archbishop of Canterbury and moved to Lambeth Palace, London where he joined the Archbishop’s Private Staff. In his capacity as Adviser to the Archbishop he 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 has responsibility for travels to Australia, New Zealand, Burma, USA, Canada, The Caribbean, South Africa, East and West Africa to name but a few places.
In the early 1980’s he successfully negotiated the release of several hostages from Iran and this event brought him to public attention. In 1983 he negotiated with Colonel Ghadafi for the release of British hostages held in Libya and again was successful. In January 1987 while negotiating for the release of Western hostages in Lebanon he himself was taken captive and remained in captivity for 1,763 days, the first four years of which were spent in total solitary confinement.
Following his release on 19th November 1991 he was elected a Fellow Commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he wrote his first book Taken On Trust. This quickly became an international best seller and headed the lists in the UK and elsewhere. Following his experience as a captive he decided to make a career change and determined to give himself to study, writing, lecturing and humanitarian activities.
His second book, Footfalls In Memory was published in the UK in 1995 and again was a best seller. His latest book published in October 2000 Travels With A Primate is a humorous account of his journeys with Archbishop Runcie. He has contributed articles to many journals and periodicals ranging from the Reader’s Digest to the Kipling Journal and has also contributed articles and forewords to many books. He was elected Visiting Fellow to Magdalen College Oxford for the Trinity term 2006.
Since his release he has been in constant demand as a lecturer, writer and broadcaster and has appeared in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and throughout Europe. There has been a particular interest in the lectures he has delivered relating to his experiences as a negotiator and as a hostage to the pressures faced by executives and managers.
Stress, loneliness and negotiating under acute pressure are but some of the issues with which he has unique experiences and his ability to communicate clearly and with good humour has meant that he is in constant demand as a speaker not only to the Business Community, but also to professionals in social work, education and the medical field as well as to religious groups. He maintains an ongoing interest in current humanitarian and political affairs.
Some of his responsibilities include
- Founder President of Y Care International, the international relief and development agency of the YMCA in the UK and Ireland. Y Care International works in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to empower disadvantaged young people to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Much work is done to assist street children. In India there are several Terry Waite Vocational Training Centres. Founded 1984
- Trustee, since 1986, of the Butler Trust (work within UK prisons). The Terry Waite award is given annually to those who work effectively with long term prisoners
- President of Emmaus UK, an international charity working with homeless people.
- Trustee of the FreePlay Foundation, the Foundation primarily concerned with the development of self-sustainable energy in the Third World
- Member of the Advisory Council of Victim Support. An agency assisting those who have been victims of violent crime
- Founder Chairman of Hostage UK (since 2005), a charity providing support for hostage families and encouraging research into post release care and related issues
- Chairman of Prisons Video Trust (since 1998) a charity that makes videos for distribution throughout the Prison Service for both prison staff and inmates covering issues such as drug prevention, suicide awareness, self harm and information of interest to those working and residing in HM Prisons
- Ambassador for WWF-UK
- President of NICRO (National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders) UK Trust for a safer South Africa, since 2000
- Vice President Suffolk Association of Local Councils since 1999
- Vice President East Cheshire Hospice since 2001
- President International Friendship League since 2000
- President of the Suffolk Branch of Far East Prisoners of War Association
- Member of the Advisory Board of Gorton Monastery since 2003
- President of the International Musical Eisteddfod at Llangollen, Wales from 2006
- The Abbeyfield (Ipswich) Society since 1996
- Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre since 1997
- Bishop Simeon C R Trust (incorporating the Living South Africa Memorial) since 1993
- The Bridge Project Sudbury Appeal, since 1999
- The British Friends of Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam, since 2003
- Bury St Edmunds Volunteer Centre, since 1994
- Canterbury Oast Trust
- Children with Aids Charity, since 2004
- COFEPOW (Children and Families of the Far East Prisoners of War)
- Coventry Cathedral International Centre for Reconciliation, since 2000
- English Springer Spaniel Welfare, since 1998
- Friends of Commonwealth Institute
- Friends of the John Bunyan Museum, since 2005
- Friends of the Samaritans, Bury St Edmunds Branch
- Habitat for Humanity, since 2004
- Kingswood Foundation
- Langley House Trust, since 1999
- Lewisham Environment Trust, since 1996
- The One to One Children’s Fund, since 2001
- One World Broadcasting, since 1987
- Rapid UK, since 2004
- The Romany Society, since 1997
- Save Our Parsonages, since 1999
- Strode Park Foundation, since 1988
- Sunderland Counselling Services, since 2004
- Tymes Trust (the Young ME Sufferers Trust) since 2005
- Uganda Society for Disabled Children, since 1995
- Underprivileged Children’s Charity, Bristol, since 2003
- Warrington Male Voice Choir, since 1996
- West Suffolk Voluntary Association for the Blind, since 1998
- And many other organisations
Some of the awards he has received
- Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) 1982
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) 1992
- Templeton UK Award 1985
- Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal 1992
- Doctor of Civil Law University of Kent at Canterbury 1986
- Doctor of Civil Law University of the City of London 1992
- Doctor of Law University of Durham 1992
- Doctor of Law Liverpool University 1992
- Doctor of Civil Law University of Sussex 1992
- DHC, Yale Divinity School 1992
- Hon LHD Wittenburg University 1992
- Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Southern Florida 1992
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Virginia Commonwealth University 1996
- Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, Anglia Polytechnic University, 2001 (renamed Anglia Ruskin University 2005)
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, Nottingham Trent University 2001
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, De Montford University 2005
- Freedom of Canterbury 1992; Lewisham 1992