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Women in Locksmithing, Val Stokes – MLA’s First Female President

In celebration of women in locksmithing, we interview Val Stokes, our former and first female MLA president from Dennis Security, about her experiences within the locksmith industry and how she got into it.

The Master Locksmiths Associations First Female President

Female Locksmith and MLA president - Val Stokes


About MLA First Female President Val Stokes

Val Stokes served as the MLA’s first female President from 2004-2008.

Now an honorary MLA member, Val remains involved with the Association to this day, actively participating in regional meetings especially London Region. In October 2023 the MLA bestowed The Val Stokes Award to recognise women in locksmithing, the award will be presented every 2 years at the MLA Expo – the UK and Europe’s largest locksmith exhibition.

It was Val’s father, Dennis, who ignited what would become a family passion for locksmithing and initially founded Dennis Security in Walthamstow in 1959. He would then go on to become a board member for the MLA.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that Val’s husband first entered the family business following the financial crisis that had ended his career selling commercial vehicles. Shortly after that, due to the business’s rapid growth, Val, who had originally trained in medical research, joined the family business, taking a role in the office.

Recently retired, Val is now proud to have passed the third-generation business onto her children and son-in-law, who now lead the family firm, celebrating its 65th year in the trade in 2024.

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Working out of her father’s former premises, her son, Matt, an MLA-approved member, oversees the company’s team of engineers.

Her son-in-law, Lee, manages the shop while her daughter, Joanna, ensures the business operates efficiently and profitably.

“Some people are surprised when I tell them I’ve spent the last 40 years working in the locksmith industry as it isn’t considered to be a typical female occupation however, there’s no reason at all why they can’t do it.”

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In fact, we have access to more sophisticated tools and equipment nowadays so the physical strength that locksmiths once needed is no longer a barrier.

“I’ve enjoyed very good relationships with other locksmiths over the years who have respected me and valued my opinions.”

“I felt like I was able to gain the trust of female customers that called in and I truly believe women have a host of skills that suit the nature of the industry”

They tend to have a natural empathy for people, are often brilliant communicators and are adept at managing their time, all the traits that make excellent business leaders.

“I definitely feel there’s a place for more women in the industry and I’m proud that my daughter is playing an active role in the family business.”

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