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Hundreds remember Paddy Ashdown at Yeovil memorial

Hundreds came to pay their respects to the Somerset politician Credit: ITV West Country

Hundreds of people attended a public memorial service in Yeovil today to remember Paddy Ashdown.

The 77-year-old died last December following a brief battle with bowel cancer.

The former Liberal Democrat leader spent 16 years as the Somerset town's MP.

He was born in the nearby village of Norton-sub-Hamdon but despite being made a Lord he would always prefer to be known as Paddy.

Today's service was attended by his widow Jane and his family.

Since Dad's died the thing thats come across to me so strongly is that he was always prepared to help whoever.

It didn't matter what political leaning they were, didn't matter the ethnicity of people, he was always out there to help people.

– Simon Ashdown, son
He would affectionately refer to the Somerset town as his 'beloved Yeovil'. Credit: ITV West Country

Reverend James Dudley-Smith shared a conversation he'd once has with Lord Ashdown where he said the proudest moment of his career was when he was elected as an MP for his 'beloved' Yeovil in 1983.

Among those paying public tribute was David Laws, who succeeded him as Yeovil's MP in 2001.

It is a tragedy that we lost Paddy in our country at a time when he had some much to contribute to the current debates about our future.

He was always a fighter, a battler and an optimist and would have drawn great comfort from the recent performance of the party he led and loved.

And he would have judged as a liberal, as a historian and as an optimist that eventually good in mankind will prevail and we will return again not to building walls but to breaking down barriers that divide us.

– David Laws, former MP for Yeovil
The former leader of the Liberal Democrats was always proud of his roots in Somerset Credit: ITV West Country

The congregation sang Lord Ashdown's favourite hymn, I Vow To Thee, My Country.

Lord Ashdown was the MP for Yeovil from 1983 to 2001 and leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999.

His career prior to politics included service in the elite Special Boat Service, and the Foreign Office.

Following an outspoken career as an MP, he went on to serve as High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina and later as an active member of the House of Lords.