Tributes are being paid to the “inspirational” Children’s Workforce Development Council chairman Mike Leadbetter, who has died after a year-long battle with cancer.
The highly-respected former social worker continued lobbying on behalf of children and young people throughout his illness. He died at home last Friday surrounded by his family.
The former president of the Association of Directors of Social Services enjoyed a distinguished career in social care spanning more than 30 years, including 17 as a director of social services. Colleagues said he would be “greatly missed”.
“Commitment to children”
Jane Haywood, chief executive of the CWDC, worked alongside Leadbetter since his appointment two years ago. She described the contribution he made to the children and young people’s workforce as “immense”.
Haywood added: “His commitment to children and young people has been an inspiration to many in the sector. His legacy is one of ensuring the child remains at the heart of all services and he will be greatly missed.”
Board members at Parentline Plus, the national charity for parents where Leadbetter was also chair, described his death after a “long and courageous battle with cancer” as “a huge loss”.
Chief executive Jeremy Todd said: “Everyone involved in Parentline Plus, our staff, parents and volunteers, are thinking about Mike’s family and his achievements at this difficult time.”
Adass president pays warm tribute
The president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, John Dixon, said his battle with cancer showed his former colleague to be a man of “amazing vivacity and personal strength”.
Dixon said Leadbetter’s death would be a “deep, personal loss” for many people, and paid tribute to his leadership of the Adss during the furore caused by the death of Victoria Climbie.
“At a time when the social work profession – and Mike was very much a social worker – was being seriously criticised, his leadership and good humour acted as very strong antidotes to the prevailing spirit of the time.”
In Leadbetter’s last interview with Community Care last month, he called for more rigour in the selection process for degree courses. His comments came after he submitted the CWDC’s proposals for the Social Work Taskforce.Leadbetter played rugby for England and Lancashire before qualifying as a social worker at Manchester University in 1975. Between 1986 and 2002 he oversaw social services at Tameside and Essex Councils as director, becoming Adss president in 2001-2.
After leaving local government he went on to work as a consultant in a number of roles, including some appointed by central government. He leaves behind his wife, Pam, and two adult sons.