Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, GCMG KBE PC and St. Margaret's Hospice Vice President
Paddy Ashdown was born in New Delhi in 1941. When he was four years old, his family returned to Ulster. Between 1959 and 1972 he served as a Royal Marines Officer and saw active service as a Commando Officer in Borneo and the Persian Gulf. After Special Forces Training in England in 1965, he commanded a Special Boat Section in the Far East. He went to Hong Kong in 1967 to undertake a full-time course in Chinese, returning to England in 1970 with a First Class interpretership in Mandarin when he was given command of a Commando Company in Belfast.
In 1972 Lord Ashdown left the Royal Marines and joined the Foreign Office. He was posted to the British Mission to the United Nations in Geneva where he was responsible for Britain's relations with a number of United Nations organisations. After leaving the Foreign Office, he worked in local industry in the Yeovil area between 1976 and 1981, firstly in the Commercial Department with the Westlands Group (Normalair Garrett) and then as Head of Personnel and, later, as a divisional head with the Morlands' Yeovil-based subsidiary Tescan until the demise of Morlands in 1980. In 1981, he worked as a Youth Worker with the Dorset County Council Youth Service.
Lord Ashdown stood as the Liberal Parliamentary candidate for Yeovil in 1979 and raised the Liberal vote there to its highest ever level. Shortly after entering Parliament in the 1983 General Elections, he was appointed as the Liberal spokesman on Trade and Industry Affairs within the Liberal/SDP Alliance team at the House of Commons. He became Education spokesman in January 1987 and was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats in July 1988 and appointed as a Privy Councillor on 1 January 1989. Lord Ashdown stood down as the leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1999 and retired from the Commons in 2001. He was made a KBE in 2000 and a peer in 2001. He was awarded the GCMG in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List for his work in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was one of the leading advocates for decisive action by the international community. He went on to be the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 until 2006.