Sir Paddy Ashdown
was born in 1941 in New Delhi
and educated in England
. He is formally referred to as "The Right Honourable Jeremy John Durham Ashdown", although everybody calls him "Paddy" because of his Irish accent
, which he gained as a child living with his family in Northern Ireland
Sir Paddy started his career in the Royal Marines, joining in 1959 and reaching the rank of Captain. He is probably the most well known ex-member of the Special Boat Squadron, (SBS), an elite special forces unit whose members are drawn exclusively from the Royal Marines.
After leaving the Royal Marines in 1972, Sir Paddy spent a few years working at the United Nations on a Foreign Office posting before joining Westland Helicopters, a British defence contractor. His political career began in 1983 when he became the Liberal MP for Yeovil in Somerset. He also became Liberal Party, (now part of the Liberal Democratic Party), spokesman for Trade and Industry. Following on from this role, he was the party spokesman for Education and Science, and then Northern Ireland. He became leader of the Liberal Party in 1988. His no-nonsense, Action Man reputation certainly helped him in his leadership of the party and also helped him survive being dubbed "Paddy Pants-down" by the tabloid press after revelations of an extra-marital affair in his past.
Sir Paddy remained party leader until his retirement from the position in 1999. His successor, Charles Kennedy, acknowledged him as "the most successful leader of the Liberals in the past 70 years".
Sir Paddy received his knighthood in June 2000, at which time he also made a Knight Commander of the British Empire.