In 2001 Ashley's daughter Gabrielle was born to a selfish Bernice Blackstock who always puts herself before her own daughter. During an argument with Ashley, Bernice goes into labor. When she is taken to hospital, she gives birth to a baby girl, who she names Gabrielle Thomas. At first Bernice thinks Carlos Diaz is Gabby's father after she had a one night stand with her sister Nicola's fiancée but a test soon gives the truth that Ashley is Gabby's father.Bernice then tells Ashley that she doesn't love him and moves out the village leaving Gabby with Ashley
Years past Ashley moved on and married Laurel Potts, who Gabby called mum. After a couple of years Bernice returned to the village and Ashley and Laurel decided that if Bernice wanted to see her daughter there would have to be some rules set. Bernice goes to see her mum Diane Sugden and tells her everything that has went on. Bernice admits to Diane that she is in love with a man named Steve Harland and she is waiting for him to leave his wife. Bernice does not get a bond with Gabby until she returned to the village a few years later.
In 2007 Ashley and Laurel's baby boy Arthur is born, although due to a mix up at the hospital, they brought home the wrong baby who they named Daniel Thomas not knowing he was the biological son of Melanie and Greg Doland . Several months later, Laurel finds Daniel dead in his cot. Hilary Potts is suspicious and begins to suspect that Greg and Melanie's son Arthur is actually Ashley and Laurel's child. After finding out Arthur is actually their son, Ashley threatens to leave the village with the child if Laurel doesn't attend the custody hearing and when they win they are both really happy but Laurel finds it hard to bond with the child.
When Ashley physically abused Sandy over several occasions in 2012, Laurel demanded a divorce after his arrest. He resigns from his job and Laurel asks for a divorce. He becomes unemployed and homeless. Marlon finds him and asks him to live with him and Ashley starts work as barman at The Woolpack. However, he and Laurel managed to re-build their friendship over the next three years.
In December 2013, 17 years after initially becoming the Vicar of St.Mary's Church, Ashley gets his old job back. However after discovering that his rival, Harriet, was the first choice but resigned because of him, he gave the job up for her. Harriet is later sacked after officiating an unauthorized same-sex blessing for Ali and Ruby. Ashley regains his position as vicar for Saint Mary's church. Harriet and Ashley begin a relationship soon after.
However, things got tragically worse for Ashley, when he was knocked down by Victoria Sugden's car in 2015. Following his accident, he had suffered multiple seizures and was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy. Later on in the year, Ashley started to lose his memory over certain things. He was sadly diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia. As his illness started to show, he told Laurel, Sandy, Harriet Finch and his children of his condition. He remarried Laurel and Laurel began supporting him as his condition deteriorated.
Later on in 2016, Ashley is involved in a car accident due to Emma Barton pushing partner James over the bridge causing him to die in hospital. Ashley thought that he'd forgotten it was his daughter Dotty's christening therefore he was on his way to the church. Forgetting which way to go Ashley got confused and didn't keep his eye on the road not knowing that James had crashed onto his car (what Ashley was not allowed to drive due to his dementia). Finn Barton, James and Emma's son, was helping Ashley's wife Laurel find him, but Laurel gave him the bad news that his father was being rushed to hospital.
When Ashley was hospitalised after collapsing, he escaped from the hospital and wandered down the streets, before being encountered by Aaron Dingle, who brought him back to Emmerdale. When he was returned to Laurel, he forgot who she was. His condition deteriorated over Christmas and into 2017, when he was administered to a care home, where he completely forgot who his family are.
In March 2017, Ashley was again hospitalised after he began coughing up blood and was diagnosed with pneumonia. His family were given the devastating news that he only had days to live. Laurel decided to bring him home to spend his final days with his friends and family. In early April, Ashley regained consciousness and miraculously remembered Laurel, which had seemingly surprised her. When Laurel went upstairs to get another pillow, Ashley died peacefully after collecting memories of him and his family. Laurel came back downstairs and tearfully hugged his body as she realised that he has died. Laurel is then joined by Arthur, Gabby, Bernice and Sandy, who are distraught by their loss.
Ashley's funeral was held a week later. Laurel fell asleep when she returned home after the wake and had a miraculous dream. She awoke to find Ashley talking to her on the television. They recall their moments with each other, before he finally said a final goodbye to Laurel.
"Part of me was hoping there'd be a terrible mistake." (Upon learning that he had dementia)
"Goodnight, Laurel" (Final line, to Laurel Thomas, in her dream)