FORMER Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown is the next guest speaker to appear for a Sporting & Dining Club evening at the Gaiety Theatre.
The event, which takes place on Wednesday, March 27, follows the popular An Evening With… format used by the club for guests including Michael Portillo in 2011 and Julian Lloyd Webber in September.
An Evening with Paddy Ashdown – A Brilliant Little Operation offers a chance to spend an evening in the company of Lord Paddy Ashdown – the man they called the ‘action man’ of British politics. The description wasn’t only a tribute to his striking physique and love of exercise, but also to his early experience as a commando in the Marines.
Paddy’s presentation centres on the first full account of how the Cockleshell Heroes mounted the greatest commando raid of World War Two, as well as his career as a leading politician. His is a complete account, as it tells for the first time of the remarkable canoe raid on German ships in Bordeaux harbour in December 1942 – by the man who served in the Special Boat Section formed after it.
Paddy chanced to meet the raid’s leader, Blondie Hasler, just once, and has now written the definitive account of the amazing wartime raid his hero led. Delving deep into French archives, tracing surviving witnesses now into their 90s, and drawing on his own commando experience, he discovers the real truth about the Cockleshell raid to be a disturbing saga of interdepartmental rivalry and misinformation in Whitehall that made the whole operation far more difficult than it need have been, and may well have led to unnecessary deaths.
A Brilliant Little Operation was published in September 2012.
In his political career, Paddy was elected leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in 1988 with more than 70 per cent of the vote. He helped to restore the party fortunes at a bad time in its history. He resigned the leadership in 1999 and went on to become the United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a position he held from 2002 until 2006.
He was knighted in 2000 and became a life peer in 2001. He is a qualified Mandarin Chinese interpreter and published his autobiography A Fortunate Life in 2009.
The evening begins at 7.30pm.
Tickets start at £17.50 with concessions available. They can be bought at the Sea Terminal Welcome Centre, the Villa or Gaiety Theatre reception, from the box office on 600555 or online at www.villagaiety.com
• Other Sporting & Dining Club events include a sold out evening with Kevin Keegan tonight (Thursday), nights with Bernard Gallagher at the Palace Hotel on April 25, Fogarty and Witham at the Gaiety Theatre on May 31, George Galloway at the Gaiety Theatre on November 13 and Anne Widdecombe at the Palace Hotel on November 21.