23 December 2018

Lord Paddy Ashdown remembered as forceful beacon for children’s rights

Lord Ashdown 1941-2018

Everyone at Hope and Homes for Children has been deeply saddened to hear of the death of our Patron, Lord Paddy Ashdown, over the weekend.

As leader of the Liberal Democrats between 1988 and 1999, Lord Ashdown, steered the party to its greatest election result in half a century.

After standing down as the MP for Yeovil in 2001, the Special Forces veteran went on to serve as the United Nations’ High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, helping to guide the country through its post-war reconstruction.

Lord Ashdown was the first Patron of Hope and Homes for Children, and had worked tirelessly for our cause since our story began in the mid 1990s.

Mark Cook, the founder of Hope and Homes for Children, said he and his wife Caroline were “shocked and deeply saddened” to hear the terrible news of Lord Ashdown’s passing.

“We first met Paddy at the start of the conflict in Bosnia in 1992,” explained Mark.

“I was the Commander of the British UN Contingent and Paddy flew out to see the situation on the ground for himself (how typical of him).

“I took him to see the ruins of an orphanage which had been deliberately bombed and shelled with the children inside it.

“I told Paddy that I had promised the children I would rebuild it. He said he would do anything he could to help.

“Shortly afterwards, when Caroline and I started Hope and Homes for Children, Paddy agreed to be one of our first Patrons.”

With Lord Ashdown’s support, Mark and Caroline worked to rebuild the orphanage, but they soon realised that what the children there really wanted was not a better orphanage, but families of their own.  For many years, our team in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been fighting to close the same orphanage, overcoming enormous resistance and many obstacles. Lord Ashdown has remained a loyal supporter throughout.

Mark added, “True to his word his word, Paddy has readily gone out of his way to help and support us on numerous occasions, in many various ways, and over many years, in many different countries – right up to two months ago”.

“He was an inspiration and integral part of Hope and Homes for Children. We have lost a good friend, a great champion, and we shall never forget him.”

Remembering his vital contribution to our mission,  CEO Mark Waddington said Lord Ashdown “was one of us.”

“Paddy Ashdown hated the circumstances faced by children locked in orphanages and institutions.He was never afraid to say what a violation this was of their rights,” he said.

“Lord Ashdown used his influence to support our work, because he believed, to the very end, that children should grow up in the love and protection of a family”, Mark Waddington added.

“Our sincere condolences go to all his family at this sad time.”