Terry Waite: Finding Strength in the Darkness

Terry Waite was kidnapped in January 1987, during a trip to Beirut in Lebanon, where he was sent as envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to negotiate the release of several hostages.

He was released in 1991.

During the majority of his 1,760 day spell at the hands of his captives he was starved of contact with the outside world.

He delivered the Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2015.

Here he is interviewed  about his experience by 15-year-old Anna Cooper, specially for our Edinburgh International Book Festival Learning Blog.

Watch the start of the interview. Pause the video at 2.45 minutes.
In this section Terry Waite discusses the isolation he endured.

1. What does his answer teach us about how people cope with being alone?

2. Discuss his views on living a life only inside his head and writing an entire book in his imagination.

Watch Anna’s next question from 2.48 to 3.37 minutes.
In this section Terry Waite explains his attitude to his kidnappers.

1. What do you think about his willingness to meet his captors on friendly terms and have amicable discussions with them?

  1. How easy would you find it to show similar forgiveness to someone who has inflicted cruelty or bullying on you?

  2. What are your thoughts on what he says about having to engage with people who have conflicting views to your own? Do you agree that some people or political and religious groups can never be successfully negotiated with?

Watch from 4.11 to 5.25 minutes.
In this section Terry Waite describes the moment he believed he was going to be killed.

Click here to find out more about Terry Waite’s charity, Hostage UK 

  1. Are you surprised Terry was more afraid of the pain of being killed than of death itself? Do you think his religious conviction had an impact on this?

  2. Discuss his description of feeling as if he had left his body as he prepared to die.

  3. Could having come so close to death have a positive impact of a person’s way of living? Think about people you know who have changed their life after surviving a serious illness or accident.

Thinking about all the clips you have seen.

What do think of the way Terry has coped with his experience and how it has impacted on his life since?

The topic of the Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture is “inspiration.” In what ways do you find Terry Waite inspirational?

 The Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture

In 2008 Frederick Hood died tragically in an avalanche at the age of 28.

Fred revelled in academia, studying in the UK, US and Italy. He was also active in the arts, debating and drama as well as in business and finance. He was a co-founder of the Underbelly venue at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival and produced and appeared in a number of Fringe shows. He was a classicist at heart, an avid debater and had embarked on a successful career in investment management.

The Frederick Hood event was established by Fred’s former colleagues at Walter Scott to celebrate his life and his talents. The idea of an annual lecture under the auspices of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, with whom Walter Scott shares a Charlotte Square address, seemed an apt way to embrace the subjects, the city and the festival of which he was so passionate.

Inspiration comes in many forms and the ambition of the annual Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture is to highlight, honour and promote an inspirational individual or event. The pre-requisite is simply a story of inspiration, the source of which is limitless.

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Supported by Walter Scott & Partners Limited

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