Valerie trained as a dancer at the Arts Education School. She studied for two years at RADA (winning a one-term scholarship) and spent a year at Bromley Repertory as an assistant stage manager, playing small parts. Over the next few years, Val did a lot of acting in both theatre and on TV. A number one tour, Nest of Robins starring Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale was followed by a season at the Arts Theatre in Cambridge and the Theatre Royal, Bath. In 1959, she starred in five episodes of the BBC sitcom The Adventures of Brigadier Wellington-Bull and also became one of the top female voiceover commentators for TV commercials.
Valerie became a BBC TV in-vision announcer in February 1962 and not long after auditioned for Blue Peter (April 1962). Anita West was chosen instead of her but left after four months for personal family reasons and Valerie was then asked to take over. She became one of the iconic and longest-serving presenters, from September 1962 until 3rd July 1972 – fondly remembered by many as the classic, ‘golden era’ line-up of Val, John (Noakes) and Pete (Purves). She continued to appear occasionally in the studio from 14th September 1972 until 23rd December 1974 and finally on 19th January 1976, and also on film from 8th January 1973 until 25th May 1976. She also popped up for special anniversaries, proudly wearing her gold badge which was awarded in 1994. She presented: Blue Peter Royal Safari with HRH The Princess Anne (1971); Blue Peter Special Assignment (1973 – 1976 and 1981); Val Meets the VIPs (1973). She appeared on the annual Christmas show All Star Record Breakers (1974 and 1975).