THE late, former Lib Dem Leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown was a frequent visitor to North Wiltshire.

In fact, he was the guest speaker at our Annual Dinner held in Malmesbury Town Hall just a year ago.

We chatted when I had the pleasure of driving him from Chippenham to the event at Malmesbury and later back to Swindon railway station to catch a late train to London. He was catching an early morning flight the very next day.

Paddy inspired me and many others to join the Lib Dems.

A Liberal to his core, he was a person of great integrity, courage and ‎compassion. A man who loved this country.

A former Royal Marine Officer and member of the elite Special Boat Section (SBS), who saw active service in the Far East and Northern Ireland, Paddy knew and understood the difference between true patriotism and narrow nationalism.

For Paddy, patriotism was about working for the common good. Where nationalism seeks to blame others.

This is why Paddy, like me, passionately supported Britain remaining a member of the European Union. We also shared a strong belief that there should be a People's Vote to decide whether Mrs May's current deal, or James Gray's "no deal" is better than the deal we already have inside the EU‎.

Paddy will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on in the Liberal Democrats he was so proud to lead.

If you share Paddy's values of fairness, freedom, equality of opportunity, environmentalism and internationalism then ‎come and join us (

Finally, my thoughts and prayers are with Paddy's family, his widow Jane, their children and grandchildren. Their and our lives were all the better for being touched by this great man - our Paddy.

Dr Brian Mathew

Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for North Wiltshire