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Sir Terry Waite KCMG CBE

Terry Waite

Areas of Interest

Literature, Religion

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, 2001


Born in Cheshire in 1939, Terry Waite is an author and former Special Envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is co-founder and President of the charity Y Care International, Co-founder and Chair of Hostage UK and President of Emmaus UK, the charity for the homeless. He is also patron of many other charities. He began his career in 1963 as Education Advisor to the Bishop of Bristol, then in 1969 moved to East Africa as Provincial Training Advisor to the Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. He went to Rome in 1972, returning to the UK in 1978 to work for the British Council of Churches. In 1980 he was appointed Special Envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was in this role that he successfully negotiated for the release of hostages from Iran and from Libya. In 1987 he travelled to Beirut on another mission to obtain the release of hostages but was taken prisoner and spent 1,763 days in captivity. Since his release in 1991 he has written a number of books, including the international best-seller Taken on Trust (1994), Footfalls in Memory (1995) and Travels with a Primate (2000).

In 2001 Terry Waite was made an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy to Terence Hardy Waite, MBE, CBE, famous throughout the land and beyond as Terry Waite, adviser, lecturer, writer, broadcaster, educationalist, globetrotter extra-ordinaire and humanitarianist, who consistently puts compassion before tradition.

This award is made in recognition of his outstanding commitment to bring comfort and relief to society's vulnerable: the poor, the hungry, the sick in body, mind or spirit, the bereaved and sad, the marginalized, the victims of political and economic mismanagement and corruption, whose victims are prisoners, prisoners of conscience, prisoners of war, victims of crime and the terminally ill; around the world, in the UK and even in Cambridge. Terry Waite is a giant of a man in every sense of the word, he is the ultimate altruist, the role model par excellence for every student, every teacher and indeed for each one of us here today, who claim membership of a concerned human society.

Terry Waite was born and went to school in Cheshire. He received his higher education in London, after which he was appointed as Educational Adviser to the Anglican Bishop of Bristol, where he stayed until he moved to East Africa in 1969. In Uganda he worked as Provincial Training Adviser to the first African Anglican Bishop of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, where he travelled extensively throughout East Africa, he and his wife Frances and their four children witnessing the Amin coup in Uganda and both Terry and Frances narrowly escaping death on several occasions. It was in Kampala that he founded the Southern Sudan Project and developed aid and development programmes for this war-torn region.

Then, in 1972, he was invited to become International Consultant to a Roman Catholic Medical Order and he took his family to live in Rome. From here, his extensive travels took him to Asia, Africa, North and South America 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 issues associated with health and development.

In 1980, Terry was recruited to join the private staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury and moved to Lambeth Palace in London. In the role of Archbishop's Adviser, he again travelled extensively throughout the world and had responsibility for the Archbishop's diplomatic and ecclesiastical exchanges. He arranged and travelled with the Archbishop on the first ever such visit to China and has responsibility for travel to Australia, New Zealand, USA, the Caribbean, South Africa, East and West Africa.

In the early 1980s, world-wide public attention focussed on Terry as he negotiated the release of several hostages from Iran and in 1982 he negotiated with Colonel Gadaffi for the release of British hostages held in Libya. However, when negotiating for the release of western hostages in Lebanon, in 1987, he himself was taken captive and remained a prisoner for 1,763 days, the first four years of which, were spent in solitary confinement. Following his release in 1991, he was elected a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he wrote his first book Taken on Trust, which became an international bestseller. It should be said that this special book had been authored in Terry's mind, during the protracted period of his solitary confinement. His experience as a captive, prompted a career change towards academic and humanitarian activities and his second book, Footfalls in Memory, was published in 1995, again a bestseller, while his third book, the humorous Travels with a Primate, was published last October. His writing extends from Reader's Digest to the Kipling Journal and he is currently writing two further books!

He is in constant demand as lecturer and broadcaster, notably in the Americas, Australasia, South Africa and throughout Europe and a particular interest has focussed on his experiences as negotiator, hostage and the pressures of stress and loneliness faced by business leaders. He is also involved with others in developing Educational Interactive, an internet teaching scheme for O-level and A-level courses.

Terry's current responsibilities include involvement in British YMCA's Y-Care, the Butler [Prison Work] Trust, Emmaus UK, FreePlay Foundation, Victim Support, Amnesty International, FEPOW, WWF-UK and numerous other worthy organizations. His awards include the prestigious Templeton Award, two Doctorates of Humane Letters, two Doctorates of Law, four Doctorates of Civil Law, and the Freedom of Canterbury!

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Terence Hardy Waite, MBE, CBE, an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy of this University."