Parliamentary event held to celebrate the National Independent Lifeboat Association

Parliamentary event held to celebrate the National Independent Lifeboat Association

A parliamentary event was held on Monday 4th March to celebrate the first anniversary of the formation of The National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA), hosted by Founder and Honorary President Anthony Mangnall MP (Totnes & South Devon). NILA is a registered charity which represents the independent lifeboats that save countless lives along the coastline and on inland waterways across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

While many of the UK’s lifeboats are operated and funded by the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI), there are over fifty independent lifeboat organisations across the UK which are run 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 and officially launched in late 2022, having been registered with The Charity Commission earlier that year. Now with 37 confirmed members from across all four nations and a board consisting of experienced lifeboat crew members, NILA is supported by the Department for Transport and the Maritime and

Coastguard Agency and enjoys a harmonious relationship with the RNLI.
The event in Westminster was an opportunity for parliamentarians to learn more about NILA’s work, and was attended by Maritime Minister Lord Davies of Gower, cross-party Members of Parliament from across the UK, and representatives of the charity.

NILA’s Chair, Neil Dalton, explained the organisation’s history and progress thus far. He also highlighted some of the challenges facing independent lifeboats, which range from funding to volunteer recruitment and national promotion.

MPs, many of which represent a constituency which is home to an independent lifeboat, unanimously declared their support for the association. Lord Davies thanked NILA’s trustees for their hard work and paid tribute to the volunteers who put their lives at risk to keep people safe on the water. He highlighted the association’s achievements since its launch, and spoke of the need to raise awareness of independent lifeboats so they can enjoy the same opportunities as their RNLI counterparts.
Members of NILA 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 has already been accepted as a probationary member of the UK Search and Rescue Operators Group, as well as having a seat on the coastal group of the National Water Safety Forum.

Founder and Honorary President of NILA, Anthony Mangnall MP (Totnes & South Devon), said:
“As the Founder of the National Independent Lifeboat Association, I was very pleased to host a Parliamentary drop-in session for colleagues. This well-attended meeting provided the opportunity for colleagues to learn more about the Association, while also recognising some of the challenges that still exist for the independent lifeboats.
We have come a long way since its creation, gaining charitable status and seats on the UK Search and Rescue Operators Group and National Water Safety Forum. But of course, there is more to be done to ensure we can protect those at sea and our precious lifeboat stations across the country.”

In a speech during the event Maritime Minister, Lord Davies of Gower, said:
“The National Independent Lifeboat Association has grown into a thriving organisation, offering a united national voice to its independent members.
NILA will continue to receive support, both directly from my department and through His Majesty’s Coastguard, to keep advocating for independent lifeboats, to keep bringing more stations into the fold, and to keep delivering your lifesaving work.

NILA now has a seat at the table in national discussions about the provision of search and rescue across the country, and members have greater exposure to national search and rescue arrangements for both communications and delivery, which is helping them to operate an even stronger service in their communities.
The wellbeing of those at sea is one of my top priorities as Minister. I’d like to reiterate my heartfelt thanks to all those volunteers and their families whose continued efforts make the seas much safer for us all, responding to the needs of their communities. Whatever the day, whatever the time, whatever the weather.”

Chair of NILA, Neil Dalton, said:
“It has been historically difficult to make the general public understand that not all lifeboat facilities around the UK are provided by the RNLI, despite many of our member organisations having been in existence for hundreds of years.
NILA has had several notable achievements since its formation in 2022, and is working towards future ambitions including improved information sharing and procurement. Possibly one of the most important issues is to lobby with the support of Anthony Mangnall MP for the reintroduction of the DFT Rescue Boat Grant Fund which has proved a veritable lifeline to many of our members in the past.
By attending this event, I hope parliamentarians gained a better understanding of the provision of lifeboat services around the UK.”

Assistant Chief Coastguard Richard Hackwell said:
“In the UK, volunteers are vital to the effective delivery of search and rescue (SAR), and independent lifeboats are a critical part of that response on the coast and inland waterways. We congratulate NILA on their first anniversary for the work they have done nationally to represent the independent lifeboats, their volunteers and the important work they do.”


1. Find out more about the National Independent Lifeboat Association here:
2. For further information about the National Independent Lifeboat Association, please contact