International Women’s Day offers us a vital opportunity to celebrate women’s incredible contributions to faith, society, business, and all other aspects of life. This year, the College wants to reflect on the achievements and work of our own Chief Operating Operator (COO), The Revd Helen Stokley. 

As the College’s first woman COO since its beginnings in 1856, Helen has been unrelenting in her work to develop and strengthen the College, both academically and with a view to wider strategic priorities – including our ambition of making Spurgeon’s College the first home-grown university in Croydon. Indeed, Helen has been instrumental in shaping the College’s application to the QAA for full degree awarding powers, while also spearheading our work last year to develop a new BA in Theology – as well as new degree courses in Business Management and Marketing, Media & Communication and Creative Writing, and Social policy and International Relations in partnership with Liverpool Hope University (LHU) – expanding our educational offer.

Spurgeon’s College is not only a higher education institution but is also the largest Baptist College in the UK and includes graduate alumni working in over 35 countries around the world. Since becoming COO in 2019, Helen works closely with the Principal and the Board of Governors to give leadership and strategic direction to the College, ensuring the work of the College in all areas is aligned to our core values and principles. Before taking up the role of COO, Helen worked as the Director of Operations at the College between 2014 and 2019, delivering the operational capabilities of the College and supporting on the development and implementation of key strategic projects. 

Helen is also an accomplished businesswoman, who worked to establish and expand a multimillion-pound business from a two-person office into one of the largest international Christian book publishers. Helen also has a first-class theology degree (Spurgeon’s College), a Diploma in Higher Education in German and History (University of Wales, Lampeter) and a Level 7 award in Leadership and Management (CMI).

As a Baptist Minister and a Trustee of the Retired Baptist Ministers Housing Organisation, Helen is presently undertaking research as one of six co-researchers for the Baptist Union’s Project Violet initiative. Her research focused on enabling women to prepare for ministerial training so they can engage and flourish as Ministers in Training. Helen has also co-founded and directs the Spatial Perceptions Community Benefit Society, highlighting her commitment to strengthening community support networks and developing positive solutions to social needs.

On behalf of the whole College, we want to thank Helen for her incredible work in sustaining and driving forward the College’s priorities and core values. Helen’s breadth of experience and engagement across business, not-for-profit and faith organisations is a testament to her commitment to supporting local development and community progress.

Revd Professor Philip McCormack MBE