Ashton, being born in 1961, was active within the Young Communist League at a time when it was falling into fragments – after having followed a thoroughly revisionist and liquidationist course for more than a decade.
Ashton was instrumental in setting up “Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners” during the 1984-85 national strike, building solidarity links with south Wales mining communities.
In 1985, he was to become the last “general secretary” of the YCL attached to the CPGB, although hardly any members were left by the time that Ashton was diagnosed with AIDS. This happened on 30th January 1987 and, tragically, he would die just twelve days later on 11th February 1987, aged just 26 years.
His death prompted significant response from the gay community, particularly in publication and attendance at his funeral at Lambeth. In his memory, the Mark Ashton Trust was created to raise money for individuals suffering from HIV, rasiing tens of thousands of pounds.