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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Eastbourne has lost a true friend

December 28, 2018 2:41 PM

PAEastbourne has lost a true friend, writes Old Town Lib Dem county councillor, John Ungar

"With the announcement of Paddy Ashdown's death many in Eastbourne are mourning his passing. He was not only an inspirational leader of the Liberal Democrats, he was one of those rare politicians who was respected across the political spectrum. It was his vision, honesty, straightforwardness and putting people first which gained him so many supporters here in Eastbourne and beyond.

"I first came into direct contact with Paddy when I was the Chair of Eastbourne Lib Dems in 1990. This was when we had a Parliamentary by-election following the appalling murder of Ian Gow MP, by the IRA. David Bellotti, (Lib Dem) now also sadly deceased, won the ensuing by-election.

"During and in the run up to Election Day Paddy was keen to know as much about Eastbourne as he could. In the numerous conversations I had with him, he enquired about what local people wanted, cared about and there key local concerns. He asked many searching questions and I was enormously impressed by his decision making, and put it down to his brave military background. Paddy always made sure he was well informed before making a decision, but he was also human enough to listen and take advice.

"On his visits to Eastbourne he particularly enjoyed meeting the public. The views he put forward underlined why he was a Liberal Democrat. This was to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society in which to seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

"Paddy really did have time for everyone as exemplified by him sitting down to listen and talk to my then young sons on their visit to the House of Commons.

"Once you met him you knew you had met a great man. He is not only a loss to the Liberal Democrats but a real loss to the nation.

Stephen Lloyd MP added: "Paddy Ashdown was a close colleague and I was desperately saddened to hear of his death. He was a genuine one-off who I got to know well over the years and his advice to me was always welcome, as was his support.

"He came to Eastbourne a number of times when I was either the MP or the parliamentary candidate and his presence was a draw, and not just for Liberal Democrat members. Paddy always remembered our town fondly. He was one of those rare down-to-earth politicians who folk just knew they liked and respected, whatever they're political hue.

"I saw him only a few weeks ago in Westminster and although I knew he was poorly, had no inkling he would be taken from us so soon. So sad. You'll be missed my friend."