Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, President
Paddy Ashdown was born in New Delhi in 1941. Between 1959 and 1972 he served as a Royal Marines Officer. After leaving the Marines 1972, he joined the Foreign Office where 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 in 1976, Paddy worked in local industry in the Yeovil area in South-West England between. In 1981, he went to work as a Youth Worker with the Dorset County Council Youth Service, where he was responsible for initiatives to help the young unemployed.
He stood as the Liberal Parliamentary candidate for the Yeovil constituency in 1979 raising the Liberal vote there to its highest ever level. After entering Parliament in the 1983 General Elections, Paddy 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. He was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats in July 1988 and was appointed as a Privy Councilor 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 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.
From 1978 until 2002, Paddy served on the Main Board of the Independent newspaper and on the international advisory board of Independent News and Media PLC. In 2002, he was High Representative and EUSR in Bosnia. During the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paddy was one of the leading advocates for decisive action by the international community. On return to Britain in 2006, he was awarded the GCMG for his work in Bosnia. He is the author of six books including Swords and Ploughshares: Bringing Peace to the 21st Century (2007) with a seventh to be published in September 2012.
In 2009, Paddy was appointed President of UNICEF UK. Over the last 3 years he has worked tirelessly to fulfill our numerous requests for his knowledge and expertise. He has helped UNICEF to engage with a wide range of important stakeholders through hosting personal meetings, chairing events, speaking at conferences, being an advocate for children’s rights in government, publishing newspaper articles as well as writing personal letters and emails, among his otherwise very demanding schedule. He has visited UNICEF programmes in Ethiopia, South Africa (for International Inspiration) and most recently Liberia.