Berwickshire MP, John Lamont, has welcomed a new charity that has been launched to assist the UK’s independent lifeboats to ensure the preservation of life on the water.
The National Independent Lifeboat Association (NILA) was founded by Anthony Mangnall MP and a host of independent lifeboats, including St Abbs Lifeboat based on the Berwickshire coast.
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 along the coastline and on inland waterways across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
NILA has already welcomed twenty-nine members from all four UK nations, each of which work closely with their local Coastguard team, Police force or Fire service.
The association’s 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 and members attended the first AGM.
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 (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.
John Lamont MP is a Trustee of St Abbs Lifeboat Trust and supports the new charity.
John Lamont MP said:
“This is a big step in the right direction for getting independent lifeboats the recognition they deserve.
“These volunteers take time out of their day to save lives at sea, often in dangerous conditions. We are lucky to have St Abbs lifeboat helping to protect our coastline.
“Anthony has been working very hard to bring these independent lifeboats together so that their voice can be heard, and I am delighted to see it come to fruition.”
Vice-Chairman and Trustee of St Abbs Independent Lifeboat, Euan Gibson, said:
“St Abbs Independent Lifeboat welcomes the formation of NILA, and we’re proud to be a founding member of the new organisation.
“Many people are unaware of the existence of Independent Lifeboats, who operate, and are funded outwith the RNLI. We believe this represents a great opportunity to promote awareness of the work we do, and that of our colleagues at other independent lifeboat stations.”
Founder and Honorary President of NILA, Anthony Mangnall MP 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.”