EVEN from beyond the grave, a giant of Somerset politics is continuing to change lives in his local area.

Last week, the Yeovil Hospital Charity confirmed that Lord Paddy Ashdown, former South Somerset MP and leader of the Liberal Democrats, had made a generous donation which would fund a life-saving piece of equipment.

Lord Ashdown revealed late last year that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, before the disease took his life on December 22.

Announcing his diagnosis, Lord Ashdown was quick to heap praise on his doctors, and said: “I’m being effectively and wonderfully looked after by everyone at Yeovil Hospital, in whom I have complete confidence.

““I’ve fought a lot of battles in my life.

“This time I am lucky enough to have the magnificent help of our local hospital, and my friends and family, and that gives me great confidence.”

Although Paddy kept his final donation a secret, the hospital - with the permission of Paddy’s family - announced his donation on social media.

James Kirton, head of fundraising, said: “The late Paddy Ashdown received extensive care at Yeovil Hospital and wanted to say thank you.

“Having been treated at the hospital for Bladder Cancer, he decided to make a gift in his will to the hospital’s charity. He asked that the donation be used to buy another bladder scanner.

“Bladder scanners are found throughout the hospital and we are hoping to use this new scanner in our Emergency Department.

“The scanners can be used by a whole range of clinicians and are a quick and easy way to identify problems.

“We would like to thank Paddy and his family for thinking of us at what must be an incredibly difficult time.”

Another person who thanked Paddy for his posthumous donation was the Liberal Democrat’s current MP candidate for South Somerset, Mick Clark.

He said: “From my perspective, I served as a governor at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust up until about a year ago.

“From my own personal personal experience I know that the hospital does a tremendous amount of good on a shoestring budget for a hospital of that size, and serving a large area.

“It is absolutely overwhelming that somebody in that position would choose to serve his community beyond his years.

“This is something that will save many lives.”

Lord Ashdown served as leader of the Liberal Democrat party from 1988 to 1999.

More than 600 people turned out to pay their respects at a memorial service in January.

“He was such a well-respected man and this has really touched people’s hearts,” Mr Kirton added.

“There is something about someone thinking of others, even after they themselves are gone, that is really powerful.”

The charity receives just a handful of gifts in wills each year, but these funds allow us them to really make a difference for patients and buy extra equipment and build new facilities at Yeovil Hospital.

The ex-Royal Marine and MI6 spy was 77 years old when he died surrounded by family on December 22, 2018.

Mr Clark added: “It is a testament to his character.

“He had a very generous and giving nature, and in his time he hadn’t sought to publicise this in any way.

“Although he wasn’t wealthy in comparison to some of his contemporaries, the amount given here is clearly a very generous one.

“He clearly wanted to leave a lasting legacy for the community, and given Paddy’s condition and how he passed, the reason for this particular donation is clear.”

In a post on social media, a spokesman for the hospital charity added: “A true local champion who was thinking of his local community right up until the end.

“Thank you Paddy.

“Your donation will make a lasting difference to patients here at Yeovil Hospital.”