Objective: To capture the experiences and feelings of lay educators in an asthma self-management programme to aid understanding of optimal methods of recruitment, training and retention, and to enhance their value within the programme. Methods: A multi site randomised controlled equivalence trial of asthma educators and primary care practice based nurses during which the educators were asked to keep a diary of their experience. A qualitative thematic analysis of these diaries was undertaken. Results: Eight lay educators supplied diaries. From these diaries emerged personal reasons for involvement in the programme, constructive comments on the training programme, a need for preparation for the realities of clinical practice and significant ongoing support and training. Conclusion: Lay educators are a potential resource for giving self-management education to patients with long-term conditions such as asthma. However, there are some considerations that need to be taken into account regarding contracts, retention and continual support. Practice implications: Lay educators need a flexible but comprehensive training programme, contracts, on site mentoring and support. They seem most contented when welcomed by health professionals and treated as part of the team.