Leader of Wearside Liberal Democrats pays tribute to former party leader Paddy Ashdown
A Sunderland councillor has paid tribute to former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, who has died aged 77.
Leader of Wearside Liberal Democrats and Sunderland City Councillor Niall Hodson has paid tribute to Mr Ashdown who he calls an "inspiration."
He said: "Paddy Ashdown was a force of nature, a lion of liberalism, and a genuinely humane and non-tribal politician who made a lasting mark on British history.
"For many Liberal Democrats, he was an inspiration - a man who presented a radical and muscular vision of Liberal politics, believed firmly in empowering people, and dragged our party almost single-handedly into the spotlight.
"But he was also a personable, funny, and welcoming person, and it's testament to him that so many hundreds of people have happy memories of meeting him and spending time in his company.
"Wearside Liberal Democrats send our thoughts and sympathies to his family."
Mr Ashdown, who was credited with making the Lib Dems a significant third force in politics during his tenure between 1988 and 1999, had announced he was suffering from bladder cancer in November.
The party announced his passing, saying he would be remembered "as someone who made an immeasurable contribution to furthering the cause of liberalism".