Leader of Wearside Liberal Democrats pays tribute to former party leader Paddy Ashdown

Coun Niall Hodson has paid tribute to the former party leader
Coun Niall Hodson has paid tribute to the former party leader
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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."

Lord Ashdown speaking at the Liberal Democrat's Spring Conference at the Hilton Brighton Metropole in 2013. Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Lord Ashdown speaking at the Liberal Democrat's Spring Conference at the Hilton Brighton Metropole in 2013. Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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."

Read more: Prime Minister and party leaders pay tribute to Paddy Ashdown after his death aged 77

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".