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Portraits – Mr Terry Waite CBE

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26th June 2015 – Mr Terry Waite CBE

I arrived in Suffolk just before midday to photograph Mr Terry Waite.

Terry Waite was well known for being an envoy to the Church of England during the 1980’s and spent most of his time during this period negotiating the release of foreign prisoners¬†. Growing up i can remember vividly how his name was forever in the news and it seemed that i was seeing his face all the time on news bulletins and in the press.

In January 1987 Terry Waite travelled to Lebanon to try and secure the release of 4 hostages. Whilst in Lebanon he himself was kidnapped and spent an astonishing 1763 days in captivity. Almost 4 of those years spent in solitary confinement.

Having introduced myself to Mr Waite i was invited into his home. He proceeded to show me his collection of framed photographs that adorned his kitchen wall. Instantly i was mesmerised by images of him with Prime Ministers, Presidents, Royalty, Dictators and former hostages. As i stood in the kitchen fascinated by these unique pieces of history Mr Waite was explaining the story behind the pictures. This was the person that lived it, that experienced it, this was the person that was in those photographs, the person that gave so much of his time and sacrificed so much in his quest to help other people. I felt incredibly humbled.

Mr Waite then showed me a postcard sent from a lady called Mrs Joy Brodier. This item was the only piece of communication he ever received from the outside world during the 4 years in solitary confinement. I was just blown away, it was all just so fascinating.

I asked Mr Waite how he felt looking back on the years he spent in captivity and his reply was that when someone does a dangerous job then that person needs to be ready to deal with the consequences. Absolutely no self-pity.

Terry Waite was just incredible to photograph. To me there is something wonderful about a person that has lived such a remarkable life looking at me through the lens of my camera. It’s an incredibly powerful moment for me. It’s a moment that heightens my senses, it’s brings me clearly into the moment, i feel alive.

To Terry Waite i’m just another photographer but to me this was special. It’s a special moment. I’m incredibly grateful for his time and his patience but most of all for him sitting in front of my camera and allowing me to take his portrait.

Paul Crowther