Like us on Facebook for the latest news from the Spiti Valley

About us

The Charity was set up by Joan Pollock in 1993. Joan started her career as a nurse and later moved onto the Travel business in the 1980s. In 1992 Joan was in visiting Manali, Himachel Pradesh, India. During her stay, a Doctor from the Lady Willingdon Hospital invited her to a slide show at the hospital on the Spiti Valley.

The valley had been closed to the outside world since 1959. Joan was overwhelmed by the beauty of this isolated valley and concerned to see the desolation of the people. When asked if she would help to raise money to build a hospital in Kaza, she was delighted and became totally committed to helping to improve the health, hygiene and general wellbeing of the local people of the valley.

Since then the charity has successfully built a Mission Hospital, Mane Village School and Mane Village Clinic. We have also set up a Child Sponsorship Scheme, a Mud Brick Project, and Knit for Spiti, creating opportunities for communities to get involved and participate in helping Spiti Projects grow.

Joan Pollock in Spiti
Joan Pollock
Founder / Chair

Joan Pollock has been taking pictures since she began working as a travel guide in 1977. Since then her career has taken her back and forth across the globe and she has documented pretty much every step of the way. She resides part of the year in London, England and the rest of the year from her suitcase!

Joan loves to take photographs of the people, life and culture of the countries that she has been welcomed into. She has made friends with whole tribes and communities and has an open house policy for those she has photographed more than once. Her early training as a nurse has proved invaluable, on occasion she as been known to interrupt her picture taking to check the health of the locals, especially the children, endearing her further into the community.

As a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society she is committed to environmental and conservation issues; her other love after her photography is Spiti, a breathtaking valley at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in the Indian Himalayas, her spiritual home. She is passionate about the preservation of Tibet and Buddhism. Joan set up a charity, Spiti Projects 25 years ago. The Mirror Newspaper named her the ‘Angel of the Himalayas in 2000, and her commitment to Spiti – helping to improve the health, hygiene and general wellbeing of the people of the Valley - has occupied a major investment of her time and energy, and it has paid off with a hospital, school and clinic built from the funds raised. In 2015 a Community Centre was completed and opened in Kaza the capital town of the valley. Built in an ancient traditional way using mud bricks and solar energy. This was done to save co2 emissions and not use wood fires to heat the building in sub zero temperatures. The United Nations Climate Change Conference granted Spiti Projects Charity the Low Carbon award for the construction of the building in 2016.

Joan continues to take tours to unusual places with intrepid travelers, she hopes to explore Kazakhstan next year and to visit the nomads in remote areas.

RSCN, SRN, Qualified Nurse, Qualified Tour Guide, City of London Guide, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society.

joanna lumley
Joanna Lumley
Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
Tony Swinnerton

A retired Solicitor who has supported Spiti Projects Charity for many years.

William Dalrymple
William Dalrymple

Our charity is committed to environmental and conservation issues and to helping improve the health, hygiene and general wellbeing of the people of the Spiti Valley.

Vicky Drake
Spiti Projects Trustee

I am a retired IT professional. I started my career as a Trainee Computer Programmer in the 70s, back when it was sexy not nerdy! Having worked in many different IT roles I completed my career as a Project Manager. I live in Ross-on-Wye and love the peace and quiet of the countryside but with the facilities of a small town available nearby.

I have always viewed retirement as an opportunity to fulfill long held ambitions, and enjoy new experiences rather than a time to put my feet up and relax.

I first became aware of Spiti Projects when I travelled with Joan to Spiti Valley in 2018. I was so impressed by what had been achieved by the charity, as well as being totally enchanted by the valley and it's people, that I immediately offered my services to Joan, to help Spiti Projects in whatever way I can.

Margaret Ring
Margaret Ring
Spiti Projects communications volunteer

I have worked in the charity sector for well over 20 years and during this time have undertaken various roles, including Volunteer Management, Project Management and even a stint as an interim CEO! (I didn't really enjoy it, as I much prefer to be 'hands on'!) I am currently working as the Communications Manager for a Social Enterprise working with marginalised women's groups in India.

I live in London with my husband and son and enjoy city life! India is a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough not only to visit on a number of occasions, but to have been employed by and volunteered for some amazing charities, doing some impressive and impactful work in this vibrant country - not least Spiti Projects!

I have known of Spiti Projects for a number of years and travelled to the Spiti Valley with Joan and Vicky in 2018. I was bowled over, not only by the beauty of the valley but also by the wonderful and welcoming people. After this trip, I was delighted to become a Spiti Projects volunteer, working on communications and campaigns and am proud to play a small part in the charity.

The work the Spiti Projects is accomplishing is of the greatest importance to the region and of inestimable value to the people of Spiti. This glorious area has been left behind and forsaken by the modern world: Spiti Projects will help the region with educational and medical facilities which had hitherto been inaccessible in the region. I support them with all my heart!


joanna lumley