Search for a speaker or keyword
Rt. Hon Lord (Paddy) Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon KBE was leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999. After leaving British politics, Paddy Ashdown served as the High Representative and EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 until 2006.
In recognition of his service as High Representative Paddy was awarded the highest diplomatic service honour, the GCMG. Lord Ashdown became a life peer in 2001 and now sits in the House of Lords as a liberal Democrat peer. He is the Chair of the Liberal Democrats 2015 General Election Team. A regular broadcaster, including Question Time and Any Questions, he has published several books, including two volumes of Diaries.
Paddy Ashdown was born in New Delhi in 1941, the eldest of 7 children. When he was 4 years old, his family returned to Britain to buy a farm in Ulster. Between 1959 and 1972 he served as a Royal Marines Officer and saw active service in Borneo and the Persian Gulf. After Special Forces Training in 1965, he commanded a Special Boat Section in the Far East. He went to Hong Kong in 1967 to study Chinese, returning to Belfast in 1970 to lead a Commando Company.
In 1972 Paddy left the Royal Marines and joined the Foreign Office. He was posted to the British Mission to the United Nations where he was responsible for relations with United Nations organisations and negotiating several international treaties and agreements between 1974 and 1976.
Between 1976 and 1981 he worked in the Yeovil area, firstly with the Westlands Group (Normalair Garrett) and then with Tescan. In 1981, Paddy was a Youth Worker with the Dorset County Council Youth Service, helping the young unemployed.
He 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, Paddy was appointed as the Liberal spokesman on Trade and Industry Affairs. He became Education spokesman in 1987. He was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats in July 1988 and was appointed as a Privy Councillor on 1 January 1989. Paddy stood down as the leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1999 and retired from the Commons in 2001. He was knighted in 2000 and was made a peer in 2001.
During the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paddy was one of the leading advocates for decisive action by the international community. He argued strongly that this would help bring the conflict to an early close, and that this was in the interests of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina whatever their ethnic background. He took up his duties as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina on 27 May 2002.
For enquires or bookings for Paddy Ashdown please call us on +44 (0)203 002 4125 or use our contact form