SARA is proud to be one of the founding members of the National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA), a new charity which has been launched to assist the UK’s independent lifeboats and to ensure the preservation of life on the water.
While many of the UK’s lifeboats are operated and funded by the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI), there are around 46 independent organisations that operate along the coastline and on inland waterways across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These independent teams are run primarily (if not entirely) by volunteers, and funded by local donations. They provide an invaluable service to their local communities and save thousands of lives each year.
NILA was founded by Anthony Mangnall MP following a visit to an independent lifeboat in his constituency of Totnes and South Devon. This visit highlighted the essential work of the UK’s independent lifeboats as well as the many challenges they face including funding, public awareness and long-term support. He has worked with colleagues in Parliament as well as industry experts to form the charity, which will now be able to offer independent lifeboats the support and recognition they desperately need.
The National Independent Lifeboat Association has already welcomed twenty-nine members from all four nations, each of which work closely with their local Coastguard team, Police force or Fire service. SARA is a ‘Lifeboat Member’ of NILA – there are other groups of membership including Rescue Boat and associate member.
Members of NILA will retain their independence while enjoying benefits including greater representation in Parliament, promotion nationally, and access to working groups where data and best practice is shared. The association also aims to achieve recognition by the UK SAR Operators Group, joining the likes of the RNLI, Lowland Rescue (ALSAR), Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW), and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS).
Founder and Hon. President Anthony Mangnall MP (Totnes and South Devon) said:
“After two years working together with the independent lifeboats of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I am pleased to see our initiative come to fruition. This new association – NILA – will provide the access and information for our independent lifeboats to thrive over the years to come as well as ensuring our coastline has maximum lifesaving coverage.
The recognition of this association by the Department for Transport and UK Search and Rescue will ensure that independent lifeboats can speak with one unified voice while maintaining their independence. I look forward to ensuring that not only are our waterways safe for citizens across the country but that this association helps to support those incredible volunteers who do so much to help others”
Neil Dalton (Chair of National Independent Lifeboat Association) said:
“It is an honour to take on the role of Chairman of the National Independent Lifeboat Association. This organisation is, in my opinion, long overdue and has the potential to offer great support to many independent lifeboats around the UK.
“Many members of the public assume that this water safety role is entirely the province of the RNLI, who provide an outstanding service. However, many areas of the UK are served by independent lifeboats so the National Independent Lifeboat Association intends to raise awareness of these organisations.”
Mark Carwardine (SARA CEO) said:
“We at SARA are really pleased to have been involved with NILA from its inception and look forward to working with our colleagues from other lifeboat organisations to share best practice and importantly to raise the profile of our sector.
Even though SARA are the largest of the independent lifeboat organisations, with 6 lifeboats ‘declared’ to the Coastguard, operating from 3 stations, we have historically struggled to bring to general awareness our independence from the RNLI. We look forward to working with NILA to raise our collective profile and celebrate the amazing work that our volunteer crews do, 24/7, 365 – all unpaid.”
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