National Independent Lifeboat Association joins UK SAR Operators Group

National Independent Lifeboat Association becomes newest member of UK Search and Rescue Operators Group.

The National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA) has been accepted as a member of the UK Search and Rescue (UKSAR) Operators Group, a national body which represents search and rescue operators.

NILA has joined as a probationary member for a trial period of a year, enabling it to feed into national discussions about the provision of search and rescue across the UK alongside other national voluntary services such as Mountain Rescue England and Wales, Lowland Rescue, British Cave Rescue Council, RNLI and Surf Life Saving.

HM Coastguard is a key member of the UKSAR Operators Group and an important partner for independent lifeboats which it tasks for rescues.

Assistant Chief Coastguard Richard Hackwell said: “The UK Search and Rescue Operators Group is key to the effective delivery of search and rescue in the UK, and volunteers are a critical part of that response.

“We are pleased to have NILA onboard to represent the independent lifeboats, their volunteers and the important work they do.”

Representatives from NILA will join expert working groups which help to develop advice and operational guidance on specific subjects to support search and rescue in the UK.

NILA currently has 31 active members but is aware there are more units which operate lifeboats and rescue boats which may benefit from its work and representation.

It hopes that inclusion in the UKSAR Operators Group will help to expand its membership to more independent teams.

NILA has also become a member of the National Water Safety Forum’s coastal working group and will now benefit from messaging such as the Respect the Water campaign.

Neil Dalton, NILA Chairman, said: “Probationary membership has come with a lot of work by the trustees of NILA and we would like to thank HM Coastguard and the UKSAR Operators Group for their support with our application.

“We look forward to working with them to keep the waters around the UK a safer place to use and preventing deaths and serious injury on the water.”

Notes to Editors

The National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA) was set up as a representative body in 2022 in response to independent lifeboats around the UK looking to increase awareness of their existence. With the help and support of Anthony Mangnall MP and the NILA board of trustees, the organisation has successfully managed to recruit 31 members and has gained charity status. Members keep their independence but NILA can provide a much-needed national voice.

For more information please contact Secretary on 07494 124795.

For more information on the UK Search and Rescue Operators Group please visit

Independent Lifeboats discussed in Parliament

Westminster Hall debate held in Parliament on the contribution of lifeboats to search and rescue.

On Tuesday 10th January, a parliamentary debate was held to give Members of Parliament the opportunity to highlight the important contribution of independent lifeboats and their RNLI counterparts.

MPs including NILA’s Honorary President, Anthony Mangnall MP, paid tribute to the independent lifeboats that operate on coastal and inland waters across the country.

He also spoke at length about NILA, thanking the charity’s trustees for their hard work.

Fellow Members of Parliament and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Richard Holden MP, praised Mr Mangnall for his perseverance and ongoing hard work to support independent lifeboats and establish NILA.

Mr Mangnall’s requests of the Department for Transport included asking for official recognition of NILA, confirmation that independent lifeboats would be able to engage with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency as it reviews the Rescue Boat Code which lifeboats must abide by, support for a national campaign to raise public awareness, and the reintroduction of the Rescue Boat Grant Fund.

Mr Holden confirmed the Department for Transport’s endorsement for NILA, and asked the House to join him in thanking independent lifeboats for their continued support for search and rescue services across the length and breadth of the UK.

Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes and South Devon, said:

“As Founder and Honorary President of National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA), I was particularly pleased to be able to highlight the lifesaving work of independent lifeboats. I am pleased that the Department for Transport welcomes the new organisation and the Minister acknowledged the valuable contribution of its members.

We are all very lucky to have these charitable organisations operating in our coastal communities and along inland waters. Thanks to all the independent lifeboat volunteers around the country for your hard work and dedication.”

National Independent Lifeboat Association officially launched

National Independent Lifeboat Association launched to support the preservation and protection of life on the water

A new charity, the National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA), has been launched to support the UK’s independent lifeboats – those that are not affiliated with the RNLI – and to ensure the preservation and protection of life on the water across the UK. While many of the UK’s lifeboats are operated and funded by the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI), there are 46 independent lifeboat organisations that operate independently along the coastline and on inland waterways across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These independent lifeboats 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 has been founded by Anthony Mangnall MP, whose constituency of Totnes and South Devon is home to one such organisation, Hope Cove Lifeboat.

When visiting the lifeboat station in summer 2020, Mr Mangnall learnt about the team’s essential work as well as the many challenges they face including funding, public awareness and long-term support. Since then, he has been working with colleagues in Parliament as well as industry experts to form this new association that offers independent lifeboats the support and recognition they desperately need.

The official launch took place at the Emergency Services Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd September, where NILA had a stand.

The association welcomed members to its first Annual General Meeting on Thursday 21st September.

The National Independent Lifeboat Association has now been registered with the Charity Commission and has formed a committee, consisting of experienced representatives of independent lifeboats. NILA has already welcomed twenty-nine members from all four nations, with more expected to join in the coming months. Many of these members work closely with their local Coastguard office, while those operating on rivers and lakes are tasked by the Police or Fire Service.

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 aims to achieve recognition by the UK SAR Operators Group,  joining the likes of the RNLI, Lowland Rescue (ALSAR), Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MR-EW), and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS).

The Department for Transport has previously confirmed it is supportive of NILA while the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has also welcomed the new association.

Founder and Honorary President of NILA, 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”

Chair of NILA, Neil Dalton, 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.”