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Moving on from childcare

David Lane, CBE, has been involved in childcare for more than 50 years. During that time, he's worked in children's homes, local authorities, social services and was vice president of PACEY for more than 20 years. Now, in retirement, David's spending his time creating and writing stories for his grandchildren. 

"I came into childcare almost by accident. It’s too long a story for a blog, but on leaving university in 1964 I ended up being offered a job in the residential care of young offenders. My six years at Aycliffe proved an invaluable apprenticeship in learning about the wide variety of problems which children have to cope with. In this time I probably wrote about 400 reports of about 3000 words each on the boys in my house unit.

"From there, together with my wife, we ran an assessment centre for children. Next I moved into training as a Social Work Education Adviser, with a special interest in residential childcare. During this time we also fostered, as well as bringing up our two sons.

"Later I had 10 years managing local authority residential and day care services, and eight years as a Director of Social Services. From 1993 onwards I was an independent consultant, mainly acting as expert witness in about 80 cases where former children in care were suing local authorities for negligence.

"It was during this time that I undertook a Serious Case Review and I reported on the need for childminders to have training and support, a message which was taken up by what was then the National Childminding Association (NCMA), the former name for PACEY. NCMA invited me to be their Vice President, and I fulfilled that role for 20 years. I am now pleased to be an Honorary Life Member of PACEY."

David was nominated for his CBE in 2016 by PACEY in recognition of the work he's done for children and children's services. He said, at the time, “I suspect that very often people see childminding as just a sort of parenting, which they think anyone can do, and they do not recognise the professionalism required in providing a really excellent early upbringing for other people's children. I am very grateful to PACEY for nominating me for an honour. It feels quite undeserved, as my contribution has been mainly in the background. I have not done the hard work of looking after the children. I hope that PACEY's members all feel that they own a piece of the honour, therefore, because it is the excellent services provided by PACEY members which are really being recognised.”

Former PACEY Vice-President, David Lane, CBE, being presented with a certificate in 2016 from PACEY Chair, Jane Comeau.

"My last employment was being a Panel Member of the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. We reported in 2017 and I decided it was time to retire.

"It was soon after I returned from Northern Ireland that I was lying awake one night in hospital after a major operation and the idea came to me of writing stories. This is where Mr Rat comes in. He is the main character in the stories. My mother made the original rat for our younger son, Andrew, in the early 1970s, using an old felt hat. In the stories he belongs to a little girl, and they are intended for reading to little children, though children do enjoy reading the adventures of Mr Rat for themselves.

"By the time I was discharged from hospital I had the first few in mind, and I settled down to writing in the following few months. I have now written 33 stories and fully illustrated eight of them. Each of them ends with a song, and a friend has already set four to music. We have printed a small number of copies, and our grandchildren and great-grandchildren like them. 


Some scenes from David's Mr Rat books.

For me personally, writing the stories has been a welcome change from writing assessment reports, expert witness statements and chapters for inquiries.

In my long career I have seen most sides of the services we offer to children. I've been fortunate in that in almost every place that I worked the quality of services was high, there was good management and we were at the cutting edge of developments. 

David, with his grandchildren.

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