Emmaus UK president, Sir Terry Waite, celebrates knighthood honour with a meal with companions at Emmaus Greenwich.
Sir Terry was today awarded Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his services to charity in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. He received the prestigious award for his charity work with Emmaus UK and Hostage International.
Charlotte Talbott, Chief Executive of Emmaus UK, said: “We are incredibly privileged to have Sir Terry Waite as our President and beyond proud that he chose to share his special achievement with Emmaus, straight after his investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
“Sir Terry has inspired and touched the lives of so many across Emmaus communities in the UK and the Emmaus movement internationally, and is much-loved for his support of our work helping those with experience of homelessness.
“He champions the socially excluded with wisdom, warmth and humanity and is a beacon of hope in a world where compassion for those less fortunate can be sadly lacking. Sir Terry is thoroughly deserving of his knighthood and we are delighted to help celebrate his achievement.”
After the ceremony, Sir Terry decided not to mark the occasion at an extravagant restaurant. Instead, he chose to be among Emmaus companions, sharing a meal and inviting them to join in with his celebrations.
Sir Terry said: “On receiving this honour, I am conscious of the fact that I am merely a figurehead. It comes as a result of the very hard work of the charities that I have supported across the years, principally Emmaus for the homeless, Hostage International, Y Care International and many others. I am glad today to be able to celebrate this honour with the Emmaus community in Greenwich.”
During the celebration at Emmaus Greenwich in Plumstead, London, Sir Terry was given a tour of new rooms that will soon be used to help more people move on from homelessness.
He was also joined by guests including Emmaus residents with experience of homelessness, Emmaus staff and trustees and representatives from other charities he also supports.
Sofia Barbosa, Chief Executive of Emmaus Greenwich, said: “We were very honoured when Sir Terry Waite asked us if we would be willing to host a celebration. We are very grateful for all the support that he has given to our community. He has been coming to Emmaus Greenwich on Christmas Day for many years to spend time with everyone here and he is hugely admired by residents, staff and trustees. We would like to express our sincere congratulations to Sir Terry on his great achievement.”
Sir Terry became president of Emmaus UK shortly after his release from captivity in 1991. He had spent 1763 days in captivity after being kidnapped by terrorists while trying to negotiate the release of hostages. He spent the first four years in solitary confinement. This experience gave him unique insight into the misery, isolation, fear, boredom and despair that many homeless people go through.
At the recent Emmaus National Assembly, Sir Terry spoke about how experiencing homelessness can leave people feeling cast out and worthless. This, he said, is where the unconditional welcome offered by Emmaus makes a difference. He said: “If Emmaus stands for one thing, it stands for the fact that each companion is of worth. Their life is of worth. They are valuable…We are Emmaus. We stand together in the face of difficulties and uncertainty.”
Pictured above: Simon, retail manager, Tim, Emmaus companion, and Tony, Emmaus companion, with Sir Terry Waite.