Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Sir Terry Waite is knighted by King Charles for services to charity

Sir Terry Waite, 84, is knighted by King Charles for services to charity 32 years after being released from brutal Lebanon captivity ordeal

Sir Terry Waite formally received his knighthood today as the former hostage and charity campaigner attended an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Sir Terry, 84, who spent almost five years in captivity in Lebanon, was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his services to charity.

He beamed with pride as he stepped up to collect his medal and insignia from King Charles.

Sir Terry travelled to Beirut as an envoy for the Church of England to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy.

But he was taken hostage himself and held captive from 1987 to 1991, including four years in solitary confinement, during which time he was subjected to a mock execution and brutal torture.

Sir Terry Waite formally received his knighthood today as the former hostage and charity campaigner attended an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Sir Terry, 84, who spent almost five years in captivity in Lebanon, was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his services to charity

Terry Waite waves as he steps out of an RAF aircraft, 5 years after being taken hostage by Jihadists in Lebanon, on 19th November 1991

Now co-founder and president of Hostage International, which supports the families of hostages, and president of the homelessness charity Emmaus, he said he intended to keep working.

Speaking previously, Sir Terry said being included in the King’s Birthday Honours list is one of life’s ‘peak’ achievements.

He said: ‘It is a very significant honour and I’m really amazed that I’ve got it.

‘I’m getting on but I’m still working at 84. I’m still very active. I suppose it’s a peak, really. I was given an MBE many years ago and then I got a CBE several years afterwards. Now this is the next one up, so to speak.’

Sir Terry added: ‘I think I’ve been very fortunate to get this because there are many other people who are deserving of honours who don’t get mentioned.

‘I’ve just been fortunate to be one who’s been picked out for some reason or other.’

He beamed with pride as he stepped up to collect his medal and insignia from King Charles

Now co-founder and president of Hostage International, which supports the families of hostages, and president of the homelessness charity Emmaus, he said he intended to keep working

The honour today recognises services to charity and to humanitarian work

Queen Elizabeth II meets Terry Waite at a Commonwealth Day reception in London, March 1992

Canterbury’s archbishop special hostage negotiator Terry Waite leaves Lebanon by plane guarded by soldiers, 1991

Also honoured today was Marie McCourt, the mother of 22-year-old Helen McCourt – who was murdered after vanishing near their home in St Helens, Merseyside, in 1988.

Mrs McCourt was made an MBE for services to the families of murdered victims after campaigning to bring in Helen’s Law.

Ian Simms, a local pub landlord, was handed a life sentence in 1989 for Helen McCourt’s murder despite her body never being found, and he was released in 2020 before his death in 2022.

He always maintained his innocence, despite never disclosing where he hid Helen’s body.

Simms was married, 31, and a father of two when he ran the George and Dragon pub before Helen from Bootle vanished on her way home from work in 1988 and whose body has never been found.

He was handed a life sentence in 1989 after being convicted by a jury on overwhelming DNA evidence of Ms McCourt’s abduction and murder.

Since his conviction in 1989, Simms has shown no remorse and steadfastly refused to reveal what he had done with the insurance clerk’s remains.

Also honoured today was Marie McCourt, the mother of 22-year-old Helen McCourt – who was murdered after vanishing near their home in St Helens, Merseyside, in 1988

Mrs McCourt was made an MBE for services to the families of murdered victims after campaigning to bring in Helen’s Law

Marie McCourt holding a photo portrait of her murdered 22-year-old daughter, Helen


Ian Simms (right),  63, served 30 years for the murder of 22-year-old insurance clerk Helen McCourt (left) in 1988. He has repeatedly refused to disclose Helen’s body

Following her daughter’s death, Mrs McCourt’s campaigning led to the Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Act, dubbed Helen’s Law, being enacted in 2021 – which made it harder for killers and paedophiles who hold back information on their victims to receive parole.

She previously said about being made an MBE: ‘All these years I’ve done – it’s nice to see people be given these awards… who have had to do things which have hurt them so much because of the reasons why they want to make sure our laws are right and correct.

‘I can see Helen’s face now looking at me from (a photo on) the mantelpiece and she has her hair in rollers and a big smile on her face and the reason was she was getting ready to go for New Year’s Eve.

‘I think with Helen, she would just be so delighted that other families may not have to go through what we’ve had to go through.’

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