Background

Patrick was born on 15 January 1915 in Boudja, Smyrna, Turkey, the youngest son of the Rev. Robert Pickering Ashe and Edith Blackler. 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. He and his parents and two sisters were put on the R.N. Hospital Ship Maine and taken 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 went to a private school, and then to Whitgift School, Croydon as a day boy. In 1934 he went to St. John’s College Cambridge, and read Modern Languages and Theology. He spent one year at Westcott House Theological College, and in 1938 spent a year teaching at Adisadel College, Cape Coast, Gold Coast.

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. He 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 War Relief Service, and the team was sent to Cairo where he first met Marion, the daughter of the Very Rev. Francis 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 he married Marion Bamber (née Johnston), and 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, Salop. 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.

Pat and Marion had seven children:

(1) Lois Mary, born 10 March 1951. She married the Rev. Kenneth Boullier on 7 March 1981.
(2) Robert Patrick, born 11 February 1953. He married Var Hong on 7 August 1982 and later Aam Dachlan on 12 February 2002.
(3) Francis John, born 11 February 1953. He married Shelagh Prouse on 14 July 1979.
(4) Islay Jane, born 6 January 1958. She married Michael Downey.
(5) Andrew Gwynne, born 6 January 1958. He married Evelyn Millard on 10 September 1988.
(6) Ruth Marion, born 30 August 1959. She married Dr. Yves Coyette.
(7) David Mark, born 26 January 1963. He married Rosemary Thompson on 1 April 1995.

Pat retired in 1980. He became Hon. Domestic Chaplain to Loseley House, and Chaplain at St. Francis, Littleton. From 1974, they lived in Godalming, Surrey (Marion passed away on 31 July 2008). On the occasion of his 90th birthday (15 January 2005), Pat published a limited edition of his book “Dust and Ashes“. The first six chapters can be found on the Levantine Heritage website.

After Marion’s passing, Pat continued to enjoy a well earned retirement in Godalming, cared for by a wonderful team of carers and doted on by his loving family. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on 6 January 2009. He was a unique individual and a wonderful father.