More than 200 people packed the Pavilion in Broadstairs last Sunday to hear Terry Waite CBE talk about his time as a hostage in Beirut.
The one-time envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had travelled from his home in Suffolk for the BroadstairsLit event, described his captivity – much of it spent in solitary confinement – to local author Jane Wenham-Jones, detailing the brutal realities of being held by a terrorist group.
Despite being chained up, interrogated, and allowed only one bathroom visit a day, the Quaker and humanitarian told a spellbound audience that he made efforts to calm his anger and understand his captors, focussing on forgiveness and creativity to get him through. Terry Waite wrote his first book – Taken on Trust – in his head during his five years as a prisoner, as he was refused pen and paper.
There were laughs as well as awe-struck silence, as the founder member of Hostage International – a charity that does much to support hostages and their families – also told of his travels with the late Robert Runcie, many of them recalled in his book Travels with a Primate, which has recently been re-issued.
Queuing to have books signed, many who had watched, described the afternoon as “moving” and “Inspirational”.
“It was a humbling experience, a chance to reset and remind yourself of what really matters in life,” said Denise Martin-Harker, director of BroadstairsLit, while Jane Wenham-Jones described the chance to interview Terry Waite as “a joy and a privilege.”