Obituary: Douglas Haldane, 86

Douglas Haldane was awarded an MBE for his marriage counselling work
Douglas Haldane was awarded an MBE for his marriage counselling work
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An Edinburgh University graduate who was a major influence in child psychiatry and received an MBE for his contribution to marriage counselling, has died aged 86.

Douglas Haldane was accepted to Edinburgh University in 1943 and graduated with a MB ChB five years later before being recruited to several different roles – including as obstetric house surgeon at Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion – over the following years.

During the 1950s he worked as a registrar at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and as a lecturer in psychiatry at the Royal College of Nursing, as well as in Stratheden Hospital in Fife as a consultant psychiatrist and a depute physician superintendent.

It was in Fife that he established the department of Child and Family Psychiatry, based at Playfield House. The centre, where consultant and treatment services were developed for children, adolescents and their parents, opened in 1960. Art therapist Joyce Laing was hired by Mr Haldane to work at Playfield.

She told the Evening News: “He was a very dynamic psychiatrist, and very dedicated to child psychology, which especially at that time was a very overlooked field. ”

While at Playfield he was appointed honorary lecturer in psychiatry at Edinburgh University and over the years contributed further to the development of treatments and therapy for children through many other appointments, both on a local and national scale.

They included roles as a member of the Scottish Education Department’s working party on maladjusted children and of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Council on Childcare; honorary president of the Association of Psychiatric Social Workers’ Scottish branch and chairman of Fife’s Children’s Panel Advisory Council. He was also honorary secretary and chairman of the child psychiatry section and a member of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association’s Scottish executive committee.

He was also one of those responsible for setting up the Scottish Institute of Human Relations and a founder member of the Association for Family Therapy.

In addition, he was vice-president of the Scottish Pre-School Playgroups Association and helped to introduce the concept of play into children’s hospital wards.

He chaired the Scottish Marriage Council from 1984 to 1986 and was later involved in Marriage Counselling Scotland in the 1990s, receiving his MBE in 1995.

Mr Haldane was born in Annan, Dumfriesshire, on March 13, 1926 and predeceased by his wife Kathleen, whom he married in Leith in 1951. He is survived by his sons Colin, Graham and Alistair. He also had eight grandchildren and was overjoyed to become a great-grandfather a few months before his death on July 19.