Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Rev Pat Ashe - Texts from his funeral

As requested - here are texts of different parts of Pat's funeral:


We all have so many rich memories of Pat. Lois, Jo Clarke and Sue Bauhahmn are going to assist me in drawing those thoughts together as we give thanks to God for Pat’s life...

We shall start from the beginning.
John O’Donohue says this:

“Nowhere does the silence of the infinite lean so intensely as around the form of a newly born infant. Once we arrive, we enter into the inheritance of everything that has preceded us; we become heirs to the world. To be born is to be chosen. To be created and come to birth is to be blessed. The beginning often holds the clue to everything that follows.”

This surely is so true for Pat and he has in turn made it a reality of our lives.

Pat was born on 15 January 1915 in Boudja, Smyrna, Turkey. He was the youngest son of Robert Pickering and Edith Ashe. His father had been one of the pioneer CMS missionaries in Uganda.

Pat had one stepbrother Robert, from his father’s first marriage to Emma Lena Jackson.
After her death in 1895, R.P. Ashe then took the Chaplaincy in Boudja, where a thriving British Community attended All Saints Church. In 1899 he married Edith Blackler and they had five children: Oliver 1900, Mary 1902, William 1903, Ellen 1905 and the youngest Patrick in 1915.

During the First World War, the family were interned, and although suffering great privations, they were well treated by the Turks. They were allowed to live in the Parsonage, and in their own Mill during the summer months. Pat recalled:

So many memories of my childhood stand out like cameos or miniatures - perfect in every detail:
I see the family sitting round the table at lunch on the veranda of the Mill, the summer sun blazing outside. We were all there except Robert, a lieutenant fighting in the army. Round the table were my father and mother, Oliver, Mary, William and Ellen. I was very much the youngest by ten years.
I see the dappling light reflected from the bottom of the galvanised bucket of sparkling water, as my mother dipped it out with a ladle, and poured it into our glasses.
I see the Mill, standing solid and welcoming, which I think of as my childhood home; its walls, six or eight feet thick, inside cool as a cave; the beehive window, like a whitewashed tunnel, with a sill six feet deep in which I sat curled up and watched the flies.
I see the vineyard in front, and the olive trees with their leaves flashing green and silver, their trunks gnarled and twisted.
I see the two pine trees at the top of the path which led down towards the village and the ‘tsikoudhia’, a tree in front of the Mill. We got so adept at climbing it that we swung from branch to branch like monkeys chasing each other. The bark was worn smooth by the constant rub of hands and bare feet. We never wore shoes at the Mill, and could walk over sharp stones and thistles without feeling it.

In 1922, the family were driven out by the Turkish uprising under Kemal Ataturk, and were taken on the Royal Navy Hospital Ship “Main” to Malta, where they were refugees for six months.

When the Turkish Army entered Smyrna the quays were crowded with Greeks, Armenians and Jews begging to be taken off by the British, French and US warships. I remember seeing Turkish soldiers killing people and pushing others into the harbour. At first the warships would only take off their own nationals, but later orders were given to take off as many people as possible, and The ships’ boats plied back and forth loaded with refugees. A fire started, and a wind fanned the flames till the whole city blazed. The marble fronts of the houses on the quay remained standing as if to screen the devastation that lay behind. It was sad to see the loss of life, and the city burnt to the ground - Smyrna - one of the cities least criticised in the Letters to the Seven Churches in the Revelation of St. John the Divine.

They returned for a short time to Smyrna, where they found all their property had been looted except for a case of silver hidden under the floor boards. Pat was taught by his mother until he was nine years old, and learned to speak colloquial Greek.

Pat’s father was then made Chaplain to the British Community in Cartagena, Spain where Pat’s sister Mary married a mining engineer, Trevor Poore.

As my father was taking the Marriage Service, it fell to me, age 7, to give away the bride. All I can remember is stumbling over the hat-stand at the back of the Church with a bang that made everyone jump. I almost fell headlong to the floor, but fortunately I was firmly attached to Mary’s arm. The impetus of my stumble took us at high speed up the aisle, and we arrived breathless at the Altar steps.

In 1924, Pat’s father retired to Croydon, where Pat went to Whitgift School.
In 1934 Pat went to St. John's College Cambridge, and read Modern Languages and Theology. He famously rescued several young ladies from the river Cam when a tree fell on their punt! He spent one year at Westcott House Theological College, and in 1938 spent a year teaching at Adisadel College, Cape Coast, Gold Coast (now Ghana). While he was there, the Second World War broke out. He returned to England via the Sahara, and went back to Westcott House to finish his training.

Pat was ordained in 1939 in the Diocese of Southwark, and served his title at St. Mary's Church, Woolwich under the Rector, Cuthbert Bardsley, later Bishop of Coventry.

Towards the end of the war he joined the Friends Relief Service, and the team was sent to Cairo where he first met Marion, the daughter of the Archdeacon Frank Johnston. The team was sent to Samos to work under the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. On his return to England, Pat was made the Bishop of Southwark's Chaplain to Youth.

In 1950 Pat and Marion were married at Southwark Cathedral. It is impossible to express how remarkable their partnership was in so many ways. In 2002 Pat wrote these words -

Very dear Marion, As I could not hear the sermon, I had time to think and I thought how much I loved you. And how much I owe you. From the very beginning of our life together, you have been a bright and shining light to me, reflecting the beauty of Jesus you have kept the vision of Him alive for me.

There are so many dimensions to Pat’s life and we cannot begin do just to all of them but three that are most significant are Pat as Family Man, Pat as Parish Priest and Pat as Founder, along with Marion, of PVO / Christian Outreach now CORD.

I am now going to invite Lois, Jo Clarke and Sue Bauhahmn to reflect for us on Pat in these roles.
Lois shares her memories of Pat:
As children we were born in the 50s and 60s, whereas Dad had been born 1915, the year after the first world war started! He knew rationing, when there wasn’t much food around, and the time before antibiotics, so life had been much tougher.
Dad I remember never wasted anything. He would squeeze the toothpaste tube and get paste out of it for ages after the rest of the family had given up! A jar of jam that had gone mouldy, wouldn’t worry him, he would just scrape the mould off and tuck in!! He hated throwing food away.
I don’t remember things getting on top of him, he was calm in most situations, like when we were learning to drive cars. My first lesson Dad took me out and I kangarood around some quieter roads in Leamington, and on returning home I drove over our neighbours flower bed flattening her daffodils!! Scared of my neighbour’s reaction I made myself scarce while Dad calmly did some gardening to try and put my damage right!! Then there was the time still with L plates on the car, I drove him from London, home. He hadn’t spoken for a while so I glanced at him as I was driving, and saw he was fast asleep!!! What trust I thought!
We had an old Bedford van, and whenever we all got in, Dad made a game of checking all seven children were on board. He would shout ‘ Are we all here? Number!’ and we would all take it in turns to shout the numbers 1-7. One day we got in to go somewhere and Dad shouted, Are we all here? Number, and we went thru 1,2,3,4, and then there was silence!! We returned home to collect number 5 and found that Andrew was not at all pleased to find we’d gone without him!
Our holidays were in a field together in west Wales, and we all have wonderful memories of those times. None of us were allowed to take socks, feet dried much quicker! Dad had us all climbing almost sheer cliffs, seemingly oblivious to any dangers! We loved it. When the storms and the gales came, which they invariably did we never went home early, we would just go and collect water or the milk from the farm in our swimming costumes! Dad would be out in the night often several times lashing the tents down to stop them blowing away! One morning we woke up, peeped out from under the canvas to find we were the only ones still in the field. The rest of the campsite had packed up and gone home!
However busy Dad was with the parish, he would still find time to help us with homework. If we went into his study with a question he would stop whatever he was doing and help us. One person remembered going round to see Dad about some parish crisis, thinking he would be feeling the pressure, and found him playing the board game, Sorry, on the floor with his children!! If we felt we wanted to get Mum and Dad’s attention during a meeting going on in one of the rooms in the vicarage, we had a couple of ways that would never fail. One was to go and ring the doorbell, and either Mum or Dad would come and answer it, or we would put the kettle on the Aga, and leave it to whistle until one of them came out to take it off!
Before meals we would always say Grace. As there were 7 of us we all had one day of the week designated to us, when it was our turn to thank the Lord for our food. Even after we’d all left home Mum and Dad still prayed for us, and our families on our day to say Grace.
Dad, was a huge inspiration in our lives. He taught us these principles:

I’m right, the other wrong, = war
I’m wrong, the other right, = peace.

If you want to live, give.

Give the credit,
Take the blame.

Not who’s right,
But what’s right.

We need the spirit of Jesus,
Not only the teaching in our heads,But His spirit in our Heart.

Pat & Marion had seven children:
Lois Mary, Robert Patrick, Francis John, Islay Jane, Andrew Gwynne, Ruth Marion and David Mark. Pat is survived by 19 of his 21Grandchildren.

In 1950 he was made Vicar of Blindley Heath, Surrey. He served as Vicar of Otley, Yorks, Vicar of St. Mary's Leamington Spa, and Rector of Church Stretton, Shropshire.

For many Pat will be remembered for his “Teddy Brown” stories, originally told to his own children but later introduced into many a pulpit and published too.

In 1967 he and Marion started Project Vietnam Orphans (PVO).
In 1974, in order to concentrate on the work of the Project, he resigned his Living, and they moved to her parents' old home in Godalming.

Approximately a hundred children were brought from Viet Nam and adopted into Christian homes. After the fall of South Vietnam, PVO started work amongst Cambodian refugees in Thailand, where it later became known as Christian Outreach, and then branched out to work in several different Countries.

Sue Bauhahnm shares her memories:
In March 1975 I had the privilege of flying off to Vietnam with Pat and Gerry Derham to join the Project Vietnam Orphans team in Saigon. Pat's faith and trust in God and his example, spoke loudly to me as a young Christian. As we gathered together with family and friends near the entrance of the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport, Pat led us in prayer, seeking God's guidance and protection. The rest of the world hurried by but Pat recognised the value of seeking God's blessing. During the journey Gerry mentioned that he had had a hard time getting insurance for the trip but Pat answered that he had had no problem. He had a wonderful insurer -God.
Pat was a man of vision and as he guided the work of PVO and later Christian Outreach, he kept the vision focussed. He knew that it was God's work and he humbly accepted God's ways, however unusual or uncomfortable. During our stay in Saigon, Pat enjoyed seeing the outworking of the PVO work. Daily, poor children flooded into the courtyard of the PVO house to have breakfast, and we heard them chant and recite the Vietnamese alphabet with an enthusiastic young Vietnamese teacher.
Pat also reached out in all directions to make links and seek opportunities of furthering help to needy children. We visited many orphanages, organisations and also the the home of the British Ambassador. Here Pat focussed on discussions whilst the rest of us, having grown tired of our daily diet of rice and fish sauce, drooled over the cheese soufle we were served. After a bout of illness Lois and I diagnosed a lack of salt and dosed Pat up with salt tablets which made his condition worse, However Pat still trusted our medical skills and was even amused by the situation.
One day whilst Pat was out and about on the back of Graham's motorbike they had an accident and Pat fell off injuring his leg. This totally changed his travel plans and due to his immobility he was unable to move on to the Philippines. However he didn't get upset or annoyed but accepted and trusted God's timing. A few day's later as Lois, Alison, Graham and myself met with Pat in his downstairs room, to read the Bible and pray, Pat's confidence in God's Word to speak to our situation was firm. We read together how God delivered the Israelites through the Red Sea. We had heard local reports of the deteriorating situation in the countryside surrounding Saigon and Pat prayed for deliverance for the four PVO babies in our care, who were waiting for their clearance papers to join their new families in England.
The next day we heard news of the Daily Mail Air lift and many more babies were saved. Pat was always able to steer the way forward through red tape and brick walls. He didn't waver, he just kept going until he found a way through.
Pat's ability to share the vision of helping one child in God's Name, ignited the willingness of so many people to help and use whatever gifts, talents, abilities or resources they had to become involved. Each child, each family, each team member and each supporter were individuals to Pat and he always valued them. Pat's life and vision has brought forth fruit in the lives of so many people in so many countries. His humble example and trusting faith have been an example to me and will continue to inspire and challenge me.

Julian Petifer writes:
Alas, I am flying to Ghana on today, I am so sorry not to be with you to say my farewell. Pat Ashe had a noble and fruitful life for which we are all grateful. There was never a time when his example is more timely and more sorely needed. I can honestly say that the report of which I am most proud in my 50 year career is the account of the plight of the Vietnam orphans that inspired the Ashe family to launch their magnificent Project. My best wishes to all.

Terry and Cynthia Gough wrote in a letter to the family –
We are so sorry we shall not be able to attend Pat’s funeral. We shall be in Vietnam for Project Return. One of the people accompanying us will be Philippa Latham, who as Philippa Jackson was one of the nurses appointed by Pat and Marion to work in Saigon for PVO in 1971. There is no escape from the influence of your parents even after so many years! Their memory and legacy will remain with us until our time is up.

Pat retired in 1980. From 1974, they lived in Godalming, Surrey (Marion passed away on 31 July 2008). He became Hon. Domestic Chaplain to Loseley House, and Chaplain at St. Francis, Littleton. Along with James More Molyneux, Pat helped develop the Christian Cancer Help Centre which has been a blessing to so many.

Robert Buckingham writes:
Once in the mid eighties I called Pat from Heathrow and tried to ask for directions to Godalming by train / bus. Brushing aside my protests he said, “I’ll be there in an hour”. He was over eighty at the time and on the way to Godalming, I saw the speedometer literally match his age!! Incredible!
Ida writes:
What an exemplary life. I think he really understood Jesus’ message in its simple strength and value and ignored all the trappings introduced down the ages.


"Looking Unto Jesus"

We are going to take a few minutes now to reflect on the spiritual legacy that Patrick Ashe has left to us. May I suggest that we each take time to consider again the invitation to follow Jesus that was a lifelong theme in Pat’s life.

Pat was greatly moved by a little book by the French priest Theodore Monod…
". . . looking unto Jesus . . ." Hebrews 12:2
Only these three words,but in these three wordsis the whole secret of life.
Everything in Pat’s life was guided by this principle, one that he learned very young.

Pat’s parents were able to help refugees who arrived in Smyrna at the end of the First World War. Pat recalls - My parents wanted to get the men something to eat. There was very little food, and we ourselves were only just above subsistence level. Mother gathered together all the food she could, and made a thick soup. We got permission from the guards for the men to come up to the Parsonage for a meal. Father said Grace over what was obviously not enough. It seemed impossible for all of them even to have a little. But as my mother ladled it out, ladle after ladle, including second helpings, still the soup held out. After the meal Father gave thanks for what he believed was a miracle. It was my first experience of prayers being answered, and as I look back on my life, I can think of many, many times when God has directly answered prayers.

Here Pat himself reflects on lessons learned as a young boy in Cartegena:

An incident took place about in Spain that had a profound effect on my character. Once, after a stormy session with my Father, I flew into a rage. He tried to calm me down, but I was angry and rebellious. He quoted a verse from the Prophet Jonah:The Lord said,“Doest thou well to be angry?”Jonah replied peevishly,“Yea, I do well to be angry, even unto death.?” I stormed out, and went and hid under some prickly pear cactuses. I sat there: “Doest thou well to be angry, Pat?”“Yea, I do well to be angry.”It was as if God kept on saying to me,“Doest thou well to angry?” until I said, “No, I don’t do well to be angry.”After a considerable struggle, I plucked up courage and went to Father to apologise. I said,“Father, I’m sorry.”His reply was,“Pat, you’re a gentleman.”For me it was a discovery. Humility was not weakness. It needs strength to be humble.

There are so many stories that we can all tell of Pat’s trust in Jesus and how he led us to do the same. Here are a few testimonies sent to us since he has died.

Dave Orange writes to the family ….
It was your Dad that made me see that God was much bigger than me. Your Dad stood in St Mary’s Hall in front of me, hands in his black cassock pockets and said “You’re banned, you can’t come back until you’re changed”.
I had already wrecked the meeting, thrown the chairs about, ripped down the curtains and was ready to chuck the old Vicar out the door, but looking at your Dad I realised that something in him was bigger than I was.
I know now it was the love of God, so I was forced to obey and skulked out of the hall, thinking never to go back. But God was working in me and I know I had to get right with Him. It took four weeks but eventually I surrendered and God’s love flooded me, I couldn’t wait for next Sunday to tell your Dad that I had changed.

Robert Buckingham has written:
Through the years Judy and I had the honour and pleasure of several visits to Godalming. Sometimes we’d even arrive at short notice but we were ALWAYS welcomed with such warmth and with such genuine pleasure!
Visiting with your parents was to be lifted up into an “upper room”. Strolling in the garden, examining the vegetables, breathing in the rich fragrances, catching up on family news . . . so much physical beauty superbly matched with spiritual beauty! I can’t tell you how much we looked forward to these visits and how much they invariably lifted our spirits.

Finally from a parishioner in Otley
"Dearest friends, …a few words with you regarding my dearest Brother in Christ. These words come from a heart overflowing with love for the man who introduced me to my personal Saviour. It was 1-30am in the lounge of Otley Vicarage where I knelt down, admitted my sin & arose a new man in Christ. My regret is that I cannot be with you to share in this service, but as Pat & I parted at Marion's funeral we did have a little joke about who was going to win the race & get to Heaven first!
Blessings to you all," Ken Pollard

Pat’s dying wishes:

If we die one of us
Try not to be too sad-
we have been expecting it for some time.
It would be impossible for any of you to say "if only"
You have all done everything possible
to make us happy and grateful, and
we have known your love.
When I asked the Great God and Father
what I should say in my few words,
and He said
"Little Children love one another."
That is what He said to St John
who wrote 2 letters which I hope you will all read-
They are quite short and you will find them
at the end of the New Testament just before Revelation.
It is wonderful to love and be loved
but it is not always easy when the one to be loved
is like Sadham or Hitler or Idi Amin,
or the boy in the next desk, or the girl in the office,
or the room mate I'm stuck with.
1 Pray for them.
2 Ask for Grace to love and forgive.
3 Take a deep breath and forgive them.
Listen to Him. Remarkable Man.
4 Standards
Lottery 'Get rich quick' does not buy happiness.
Happiness is a bye- product, chase it and it vanishes.

Pat died on the 6th January – rather appropriately the Epiphany because many of us will remember him telling the story of the
4th Wise Man

"Arteban is the 4th wise man - who arrives too late to see the baby Jesus. He spends his life searching for his King - Here is Pat reading the end of the story."

LOOKING UNTO JESUS AS LONG AS WE REMAIN ON THE EARTH - unto Jesus from moment to moment, without allowing ourselves to be distracted by memories of a past which we should leave behind us, nor by occupation with a future of which we know nothing





UNTO JESUS ALWAYS --WITH A GAZE MORE AND MORE CONSTANT, more and more confident, "changed into the same image from glory to glory" (2Cor. 3:18). Thus we await the hour when He will call us to pass from earth to Heaven, and from time to eternity --The promised hour,the blessed hourwhen at last "we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1John 3:2).


Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to thee. Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal Spirit of the Father dwell in our souls and bodies, filling every corner of our hearts with light and grace; so that, bearing about with us the infection of good courage, we may be diffusers of life, and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant and high-hearted happiness, giving thee thanks always for all things.

O Jesu, Master Carpenter, who at the last through wood and nails purchased our redemption; wield well your tools in this your workshop, that we who come to you rough-hewn may be fashioned to a nobler beauty by your hand; for your name's sake, O Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pat Ashe in Pictures

Here are some photos and videos of Rev Pat Ashe, Lois' father, shown at his funeral last Saturday. Andrew put these wonderful slides together. Turn your sound on and click on the arrow to view.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Pat Ashe 1915 - 2009

Lois' father, Pat Ashe, died in his sleep on Tuesday evening at Guildford Hospital.

We are all so sad to see Pat leave us but know it is right for him to go on to join Marion with his Lord Jesus after such a remarkable life of service for God.

Below are the published Obituary, Comments from CORD and a film clip about the origins of PVO/Christian Outreach...

Peace Maker and Humanitarian
The Reverend Patrick Ashe - Obituary

The Reverend Francis Patrick Bellesme Ashe, who, in 1967, with his wife Marion, and fellow parishioners in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire determined to rescue orphans in Saigon during the Vietnam War, leaves a legacy of peace building in some 26 countries over more than four decades.

Motivated by his Christian faith, and ignoring those who said he would not succeed, Pat Ashe, himself a father of seven, led his team to support hundreds of children abandoned and lost in the debris of war. Confident in their Christian conviction that this was God's calling to them, Project Vietnam Orphans set up orphanages and schools in the heart of the Saigon battleground, and were instrumental in saving numerous young lives.

As the city finally fell, many children were famously airlifted to the UK and new adoptive homes as part of his life saving mission. For Pat Ashe, the simple creed was that children should live without fear, want or deprivation. For many years he led a double life- running the large and busy parish of St. Mary's, Leamington, whilst heading up PVO, as CORD was then known.
After Vietnam, the charity worked with refugees from the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, changing its name to Christian Outreach. Later the words "Relief & Development" were added and the name CORD was adopted. Today the organisation employs some 800 people globally, many of them refugees.

Regarded as an inspirational humanitarian, Pat Ashe was born on 15 January 1915 in Boudja, Smyrna, Turkey, the youngest son of the Rev. Robert Pickering Ashe and Edith (Blackler) Ashe. He was taught by his mother until he was nine years old, and learned to speak colloquial Greek. In 1922 Smyrna was taken by the Turkish army. To avoid the pillage and massacre, the British subjects were taken off by the Royal Navy to Malta, where they stayed for some six months as refugees.

R.P. Ashe was then offered the Chaplaincy of Cartagena, Spain, where they stayed for two years, and Pat learned to speak Spanish. On their return to Smyrna, they found that all their belongings had been looted. In England, Pat attended Whitgift School, Croydon before reading Modern Languages and Theology at St. John's College Cambridge. He spent a year at Westcott House Theological College, and in 1938 taught at Adisadel College, Cape Coast, and Gold Coast.
While he was there, the Second World War broke out. He returned to England via the Sahara, and was ordained in l939 in the Diocese of Southwark, serving his title at St. Mary's Church, Woolwich under the Rector, Cuthbert Bardsley, later Bishop of Coventry.Towards the end of the war he joined the Friends Relief Service, and the team was sent to Cairo where he first met Marion (Johnston) Bamber, the daughter of the Very Rev. Francis Johnston. The team was sent to Samos working under the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. On his return to England, Pat was made the Bishop of Southwark's Chaplain to Youth.

He and Marion married in Southwark Cathedral in 1950, and Pat was made Vicar of Blindley Heath, Surrey. He served as Vicar of Otley, Yorkshire, Vicar of St. Mary's Leamington Spa, and Rector of Church Stretton, Shropshire. He resigned his living in 1974 in order to concentrate on the work of Project Vietnam Orphans; and the couple moved the family home to Godalming. Pat retired in 1980, becoming Hon. Domestic Chaplain to Loseley House, and Chaplain at St. Francis, Littleton.

Regarded as a devout and spiritual person, the Rev Ashe was a mild and gently mannered man; a persona which belied a stubbornness based on his conviction of what was right. On moving to Leamington Spa, with the highest immigrant population in the area, he ran foul of the Keep Britain White campaign for his anti racist stance.

His deep faith and belief in the power of prayer strengthened his determination to succeed despite enormous obstacles. Pat Ashe remained at the heart of CORD until his death .Hundreds of thousands of people who have had to flee for their lives from violent conflict, have been helped and supported to a new life by the organisation which he founded.

The Rev Ashe died peacefully after a short illness on January 6 in a Surrey hospital, just five months after losing his wife, Marion. He is survived by his seven children and 19 of his 21 grandchildren.

Pat Ashe born 15 Jan 1915; Died 6 January 2009

COMMENTS from the CORD website http://www.cord.org.uk/

It is with great sadness that CORD announces the death of our Founder, the Reverend Pat Ashe. He was 93 and died peacefully in his sleep at Godalming in Surrey.

Pat, who back in 1967 and together with his wife Marion, and fellow parishioners in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire determined to rescue orphans in Saigon during the Vietnam War, leaves a legacy of peace building in some 26 countries over more than four decades.

'Pat Ashe was an inspirational man,' said CORD Chief Executive, Brian Wakley. 'He was a mild and gently mannered person, but he had a stubbornness based on his conviction of what was right. His deep faith strengthened his determination to succeed despite enormous obstacles.'
'Hundreds of thousands of people who have had to flee for their lives from violent conflict, have been helped and supported to a new life by the organisation which he founded. He remained at the heart of CORD throughout, and we are greatly saddened by his passing, whilst celebrating his huge contribution as a peace maker and a humanitarian.'

Broadcaster and journalist Julian Pettifer, whose news report from a beach in Saigon inspired the Ashe's to action, said he was saddened by the news.

'Pat Ashe had a noble and fruitful life for which we are all grateful. There was never a time when his example is more timely and more sorely needed,' he added.