Helen graduated in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) with Economics from Bradford University in 1981 and completed the Museums Association Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies in 1989.
She joined the National Railway Museum in July 1982 as a junior curator rising to Head of Knowledge & Collections in 2003, managing all collections activities at the museum, with a team divided between collections management and collections access.
In 2000 and 2001 she was seconded to mda (now Collections Trust) to work on the development SPECTRUM Knowledge, the UK Standard for Collections Information Management. During that period she also published the Railway Object Names Thesaurus in association with colleagues across the railway heritage sector and mda.
She serves on the Heritage Committee of the Heritage Railways Association and is Chair of the Friends of Sierra Leone National Railway Museum.
She was awarded the OBE for services to railway heritage in the New Year Honours List, 2010.