Death of former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown ‘a loss to the country’

THE sad news of the passing of former leader of the Lib Dem’s Lord Paddy Ashdown is a great loss to the country, his family and all who knew him.

It was during the 1980s that I began to photograph Paddy as he was the MP for Yeovil and he wrote a weekly column in the Somerset Star.

Being the photographer for the Star I covered almost all occasions where Paddy was present or an invited guest, from assault courses to fete openings, we were there and I got to know Paddy quite well.

Paddy eventually became leader of the Lib Dems, and his first conference as leader was to be at the Blackpool Winter Gardens.

Journalist and MD of the Star Group, Philip Evans, and myself covered the Blackpool conference for the Somerset Star. We stayed in a Blackpool bed and breakfast, that was an experience on its own.

Our first encounter with Paddy at the conference was his opening address to his members on Sunday evening (pictured). The next morning in the foyer of the Winter Gardens, Paddy and his wife Jane arrived with a wall of photographers to greet them. Paddy caught sight of Pip and myself and invited us to his hotel suite that evening but whispered in my ear “no cameras”.

I have fond memories of Paddy from those early days as a press photographer. I presented him with a leather bound photo album of his first conference at Blackpool and out of the blue he wrote to me with a ‘back slap’ for winning a major press award.

RIP Lord Paddy Ashdown, one of the best.

Woodmead Halls

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