OXFAM’S chief executive has said it will “not be easy” for her to hand over the reins of the charity she had led for more than a decade.

Dame Barbara Stocking, 61, will be stepping down from her position in February after 12 years in charge of Oxfam GB.

Before taking up the job she was a regional director in the NHS and made the decision to sell off the Radcliffe Infirmary and move its staff and services to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington.

Dame Barbara said: “I’m coming up to 12 years with Oxfam and that feels to me like a long time for chief executive to be at one organisation. I love Oxfam dearly and I wouldn’t want to stay too long but it won’t be easy leaving.

“It is essential that Oxfam keeps developing and reinventing itself to remain relevant in the world, and able to deliver fully on its purpose of bringing about a world without extreme poverty.”

As head of Oxfam GB Dame Barbara was tasked with overseeing an annual income of more than £380m and more than 5,000 paid staff all over the world.

“In 2005 with the Make Poverty History campaign there was a real sense that we could get rid of poverty,” she said.

“But then climate change came along and it has been one of the biggest changes for us during my time in charge. The number of extreme weather events has hit poor people so hard.

“But this has got to be one of the world’s best jobs. The range of things you do is incredible and I have loved being able to travel the world.

“One of my favourite moments was a couple of years ago when I was in Azerbaijan working with refugees and they were delighted to see us. I couldn’t have been treated better.”

Dame Barbara has led the charity’s response to the Pakistan and Haiti earthquakes as well as its work in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and East Africa.

“I have loved leading Oxfam and would like to sincerely thank not only the thousands of dedicated staff working in some of the most difficult areas of the world, but also the public who have supported Oxfam in so many ways and campaigned tirelessly to help us achieve real change.

“I’m looking forward to watching Oxfam continue its vital role as the voice of the millions of people unjustly living in poverty around the world.”

In 2008 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for humanitarian services.

She said anyone looking to lead the charity has “really got to like people” as well as having to “love the organisation”.

Dame Barbara, who lives in Headington with her GP husband and has two sons, said: “I haven’t got anything specific in mind about what I want to do next but I would like to continue working in the international arena.”