Reunion for Terry

One-time special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Waite, brought the Christian Resources Exhibition in Sandown Park to an emotional conclusion as he spoke movingly of the 1,763 days he spent in solitary confinement after capture in Beirut 30 years ago.

But the emotion was increased by the arrival at the exhibition of the son of one of the prisoners Terry had helped to free before his own arrest.

Andrew Coleman, aged 59, his wife Marion and daughter Sarah listened to Terry’s recounting of his experiences in spending nearly five years in captivity before joining him at a book-signing. Andrew’s parents, Canon John Coleman and his wife, Audrey, were captured and held prisoner in Iran for a year before Terry managed to arrange their release.

“It was a very emotional time,” said Andrew, a part-time worker at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher. “I was obviously in touch with Terry during my parents’ imprisonment and when he himself was captured and kept for five years it was very traumatic.”

Marion also spoke of Mr Waite’s talk. “It was very moving, thinking of all he went through, after what he had done for others.”

The family last met Terry at the funeral of John Coleman in 2003.

“This was a lovely reunion,” said Terry.

In his hour-long talk Terry graphically recalled his capture and imprisonment when he was chained and blindfolded for the majority of the time.

“I was kept in solitary confinement – no books, no papers, but I knew that I could say to my captors: ‘you have the power to break my body’, because I was tortured; ‘you have the power to break my mind’, because I was interrogated, ‘but my soul is not yours to take’.

“There is a lot to be said for the regular use of worship. As a choir boy I learned the old prayers and in solitary confinement I could repeat them, Good language, like good music, is good for the soul.”

His talk was punctuated by readings from his book, Out of Silence (SPCK, £9.99), which is a series of poems which illustrated various parts of his captivity. His other books are Solitude (SPCK, £16.99) and Taken on Trust (Hodder and Stoughton, £9.99).

Dave Hall

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