About the Trustees
The LED trustees work closely with LED’s founder, Val Pitkethly, to enable the charity to carry out its mission to provide low-tech solutions to 3 basic needs – affordable and sustainable solar lighting, basic education and essential healthcare.
The trustees are all volunteers and bring a wealth of expertise to the charity:
- Gwen Buchan
- Fiona Chiu
- Simon Cocker
- Mary Loosemore
- Mike Smith
You can read more about each of us below.
We evaluate proposed projects and raise funds for LED’s work in Peru and Nepal, administer and manage the charity. All of us have extensive travel experience and have accompanied Val to many of the remote communities where LED distributes solar lights, school and medical supplies, funds the building and maintenance of health posts and school buildings, and contributes to medical and teaching staff costs.
Light Education Development is a Registered Charity with the Charities Commission, England and Wales, No. 1141243 and registered in England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee with company number 6468130.
Meet the Trustees
Gwen trekked with Val in the Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru in 2007 and saw the solar lights being distributed to local villagers in this region. Val and Gwen then got together to look at establishing LED formally as a registered charity in January 2008. Gwen has trekked for many years in the world’s high mountain ranges and seen first hand the huge differences that can be made to the quality of life for local people in these remote places through the work of LED.
As a solicitor qualified in both Scotland and England and Wales, Gwen takes care of LED’s legal needs and its filing and reporting requirements as well as helping out generally.
Born and brought up in Glasgow, Gwen studied law at Glasgow University before qualifying as a solicitor in Edinburgh. She now lives in North West London and works as a lawyer in the UK rail industry.
Fiona helps out with the financial administration of the charity.
Simon first met Val in 2014 while she was guiding a trek he was on in the Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes. He experienced first-hand the positive impact and benefit of Val’s work through LED delivering solar lights to remote communities in the mountains. It was then following a recent trip on the Manaslu circuit in Nepal, seeing again the transformational impact the lights and also reading glasses were for local people, that he was keen to help more, especially as he had just retired from a 30-year career in financial services.
Simon became a Trustee in mid 2019 and his key focus is to support the strategic development of LED as well as looking at fundraising opportunities.
Mary became a trustee in January 2015, having first encountered Val across a scrabble board in 2011 while on the Three High Passes to Everest trek (not with Val!). Since then, Mary has completed numerous treks with Val in the Huayhuash and Blanca Cordillera of Peru, and in many of Nepal’s more remote regions, from the rarely visited valleys of Lower Dolpo to remote homes and pastures off the beaten track in the Khumbu.
Mary decided to become an LED trustee having seen first hand how the charity enables Val and her amazing network to provides practical, sustainable solutions in these remote communities that genuinely make a difference to people’s daily lives. Mary’s focus is on helping LED to make the most of the opportunities offered by the web and social media.
Mike met Val while trekking the Huayhuash in 2012 and has been a Trustee since 2014. He returns regularly to Peru and Nepal and also enjoys travelling, hiking and skiing all over the world, having lived and worked in India.
After a 20 year career in the financial services industry, he now lives in the Lake District working as a first aid trainer and business consultant, and is a member of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team.