Cheshire's Terry Waite talks about his childhood
Terry Waite recalls how memories of his Cheshire childhood sustained him during his darkest days in captivity and pledges his support for the East Cheshire Hospice.
It was one of those moments everyone can remember. I was watching the news with my dad when I saw a weary, but ecstatic looking Terry Waite climb down the aeroplane steps back onto British soil. I was only 11 but the memory remains.
Few of us can comprehend the strength of mind it takes to endure 1,760 days being held hostage, much of it in solitary confinement. But Cheshire-born Terry coped by writing his first book in his head, keeping an unswerving belief in his Christian faith and casting his mind back to the golden days of his Cheshire childhood.
'My time in Cheshire was incredibly happy for me and I'd think about it often,' he told me.
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The former hostage negotiator was born in Bollington and also lived in Henbury but much of his formative years were spent in Styal. His dad was the village policeman which meant dire consequences for a young mischief-making boy.
Terry, who still visits the county to visit family, remembered: 'I could never get away with anything. If there was trouble and I was involved then that would be it, he would know.
'The community was very rural and farming and agriculture played a big part in village life. I can still remember the local farmer delivering milk in his cart. People would come out of their houses and he would freshly churn the milk for them.'
Terry had a humble childhood and took on several jobs, including delivering bread, so he could save enough money to buy a pedal bike. It was his pride and joy and he would travel for miles around Cheshire.
'It was my own bit of freedom,' he said. 'I'd cycle all around the Cheshire countryside. I didn't care how far I went.
'One day I was cycling around the city walls at Chester and I went past a restaurant. The food smelled so good and I can remember thinking how one day I'd love to go and eat there.'
That was one of the memories which sustained him during almost five years of routine torture. Being made to wear a blindfold while you can hear bullets ricocheting off the room you are locked in would be enough to leave anyone emotionally scarred.
And then when you are freed you find your family and friends have been forced to get on with their lives without you.
But Terry, who has revisited Beirut several times since his release, is remarkably pragmatic about the experience.
He explained: 'I was promised a safe passage but that promise was broken so I was put in a cell, chained to a wall and allowed just five minutes off the chains a day to go to the bathroom. That was my life.
'But if you're doing a job working towards the release of hostages then you can't expect everything to go right all the time. I was always aware of the fact that I could be captured or killed and that was the risk I took.
'Yes, I have been back. I don't see any reason why I shouldn't. My captivity was hard for my family. It was hard coming back and seeing they had been forced to grow up without me. But I think we came out of it remarkably well.'
Terry, the founder of Hostage UK, an organisation that supports people affected by hostage situations, may now have left Cheshire but part of his heart will always be dedicated to this beautiful county.
He said: 'When I was in captivity I never lost hope. I think I've always had it though, right back to the time when I cycled through the countryside in Cheshire. They were good times.'