How I coped when taken hostage in Beirut: Terry Waite to talk about his years in captivity at Suffolk church event

PUBLISHED: 05:12 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 26 April 2018

Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Picture: GREGG BROWN

He suffered at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists when taken prisoner for almost five years.

Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Picture: GREGG BROWNFormer Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Picture: GREGG BROWN

But now Beirut hostage Terry Waite CBE is to talk at a Suffolk church event about how he drew on enormous resources of internal strength to survive the most harrowing of ordeals.

The 78-year-old, who lives near Bury St Edmunds, was captured in January 1987 while trying to negotiate the release of other hostages in the Lebanon.

He had been working as a hostage negotiator for the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, George Runcie, and was advised not to travel to Beirut – but was determined to meet those he was trying to free from captivity.

Mr Waite was subjected to beatings, being blindfolded and having chains tied around his hands and feet – but somehow coped with it all and was released five years later.

Blythburgh Church. Picture: LUCY TAYLORBlythburgh Church. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

How he managed in the most difficult of circumstances has fascinated many people since his release in 1991.

And now he will reveal the secrets of how he got through when he joins chamber choir Renaissance for a programme of readings from his latest book, Solitude, accompanied by a selection of 16th century choral music.

In the book, he wrote: “For day after day you plod onwards with your eyes fixed on the horizon, looking for an end to the ordeal.

“As the days, months, years pass by, time takes on a new meaning.

Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Picture: LUCY TAYLORFormer Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

“Instead of always looking to the far distance, you begin to look around and discover that far from being a bleak and arid place, the desert is teeming with life.

“The journey is indeed exhausting, but gradually you learn to live for the moment.”

Since his release, Mr Waite has been a passionate campaigner on humanitarian issues, including those relating to hostages and prisoners, homelessness and overseas development.

He has also become a prominent public speaker.

Ahead of the event this weekend, Mr Waite said: “We live in a world of suffering.

“No-one is excluded. Some people, undoubtedly – through no fault of their own – simply suffer more than others.

“But suffering need not destroy. Lessons can be learnt from it, creativity can be found and hope can be delivered.”

The event will take place at Blythburgh Church, near Southwold, on Saturday, April 28 at 7pm.

Tickets cost £12, including refreshments and are available from Halesworth Bookshop, Southwold Books and Wenhaston Post Office.

They are also available at

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