HE is best known as a humanitarian, inspirational speaker and author and will always be remembered for being held captive after negotiating for the release of hostages in Lebanon.

But, even in his 80s, Terry Waite is finding new ways to reinvent himself.

The former Lymm resident’s writing has previously seen him tackle his own experiences as a special envoy for the Church of England, poetry and even comedy.

Now he has released his first children’s story – The Tales of Tommy Twitchnose – that he wrote during the lockdown periods.

It is about the adventures of a Tweed jacket-wearing mouse in the village of ‘Cheesethorpe’ with a message for youngsters about respecting nature.

And the 81-year-old has become so immersed in Tommy’s world – inspired by Beatrix Potter’s stories – that he has two more volumes ready to be published.

“I remembered my own childhood when I first learned to love books,” said Terry, who used to work for grocer Henry Milling’s.

“They were first read to me and then I was able to read them for myself. I made all kinds of pictures in my mind so that the characters I read about became alive.

“I wanted to write stories that would be gentle and encourage children to have respect for the animal kingdom and so I wrote in the style of Beatrix Potter.

“Not that I compare myself with that great writer but that is the style I adopted.”

The inspiration for Tommy himself was closer to home for Terry, who now lives in Suffolk.

The former Stockton Heath Secondary Modern School student added: “The story began when friends of mine moved into a converted barn in Suffolk.

“They went away for a holiday and on their return discovered that mice had eaten their slippers!

“I laughed about this and this set me thinking about writing a story about Tommy Twitchnose and his family and friends.

“Boris, the tortoise actually is a real tortoise who lives in the garden of the old barn. The moles run the underground railway. Nelson the seagull flies wounded animals on his back to the animal hospital.

“Lord Whiskers has a snooty wife who if she gave you a stare could freeze custard at ten paces.

Warrington Guardian:

“All good fun but conveying the message that we need to realise that all animals have a world of their own which we should respect.”

Terry told Weekend his versatility as an author still surprises people – and even himself.

He said: “People expect me always to write about hostages and my time in captivity. Well, I have written about that – Taken on Trust – but I have also written a book of poetry and reflections – Out of the Silence. I am not overly keen on poetry but I wanted to to capture an emotion or a place in as few words as possible.

“I have also written a humorous book about funny things that happened when I travelled with the then Archbishop of Canterbury – Travels with a Primate –and another book about solitary places and people I have visited or met –Solitude. Now I’m writing stories for children and am wondering what might come next.”

Last year, Terry did 28,000 miles in the car and there was overseas travel on top of that. So the pandemic year has been very different for him – but equally busy.

He said: “I founded Hostage International years ago and each week online have an hour with either former hostages or their family members who are recovering after facing a most traumatic time.

“I have also tried to do what I can for the homeless through the charity, Emmaus, of which I am president.

“Then there is YCare, which I helped found more than 30 years ago, and works to assist young people overseas find employment and make a decent living.

“It is in the process of reshaping and so this takes a lot of time. There has been no shortage of things to do.

“However I have felt real sympathy for those who have found the year very difficult. It has been tough on those who have lost their jobs or have been bereaved.”

Terry also gave a speech during Warrington Male Voice Choir’s virtual Christmas concert.

He has been working with the choir since the IRA bomb in Bridge Street killed Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball in 1993 – accompanying them on trips to promote peace in Northern Ireland.

Terry added: “Music has always played a big part in my life and I really am honoured to be president of the Warrington Male Voice Choir. The choir have been working for peace and harmony for very many years. They show a true northern and British spirit: ‘We will not be beaten’.”

Talking of not being beaten, Terry concluded with a message of hope for 2021.

He said: “The coming year will be tough for many people.What I hope is that we will be able to draw on our inner resources and support each other with compassion and understanding. I was a child in the war years and the problems we faced then seemed insurmountable. We survived because we pulled together as a nation and in many instances cared for each other.

“We were not perfect but we were determined to get through a disaster. If we have the inner spirit we shall survive.”