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Our Patron: Her Majesty The Queen


HM The Queen has been Patron of the RNLI since 1952.

Since then, she has named five RNLI lifeboats: the Solent class Royal British Legion Jubilee, the Waveney class The Scout, the Mersey class Her Majesty the Queen, the Severn class Richard Cox Scott and the Severn class Sybil Mullen Glover.

In July 2004, HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh performed the official opening of RNLI College, where the charity’s lifeboat crew and lifeguards are trained to save lives at sea.

Declaring the College officially open, Her Majesty said: ‘Having just seen some of the excellent training that is already being delivered, I am certain that the College will play a vital role in helping the RNLI to save even more lives at sea.’


Our President: His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent KG

HRH The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969. He succeeded both his father and his mother as President of the charity.

As President, the Duke of Kent has attended many RNLI events, including the official opening of RNLI College by HM The Queen in July 2004. In April 2005, at RNLI Headquarters in Dorset, he attended the naming of a new all-weather lifeboat, The Duke of Kent. 

2009 saw His Royal Highness mark 40 years as President of the RNLI. At our annual presentation of awards, we presented him with a diorama in recognition of his 4 decades of service and commitment.

In charity law, the Trustees carry full financial and legal responsibility for everything the RNLI does. The Trustees are a body of volunteers who bring a wide range of knowledge, experience and expertise to the table. The Trustees approve the RNLI Strategic and Business Plans, Annual Budget and Annual Report and Accounts.

They must ensure that everything done by the RNLI is genuinely and solely in pursuit of its objects: firstly, to save lives, promote safety and provide relief from disaster at sea, and, secondly, to save lives, promote safety and provide relief from disaster on inland waters.

Role profiles are available for the Chair role, Council member role and Trustee role.

Trustees are appointed from within and by the RNLI Council at the Annual Meeting of the Council each July. The current Trustees are featured below. 

Our Chair: Stuart Popham QC (Hon)


‘As a lifelong sailor with family who recognise the real value of the RNLI, I felt I could do my bit to help.’

Stuart has three children with his wife Carolyn and two grandchildren. He has been a keen sailor since his youth and comes from a family with a long line of seafarers.

He chairs the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), he has been European vice chairman for Citibank for the last five years, prior to which he was a solicitor at the world leading firm, Clifford Chance, for more than 30 years (the last eight of which as their global Senior Partner).

Stuart has served as a governor of Birkbeck University, chaired the London region of the CBI and a trustee of the Barbican Arts Centre. He was made Queen's Counsel, honoris causa, in 2011.

Stuart became Chair of the RNLI in October 2016.

Deputy Chair: Vicky Wright OBE BSc MSc CCCIPD

Image of Malcolm Vickers. Photo: RNLI/Derek King

​‘I have friends who had been rescued at sea by the RNLI. I said “yes” to help on one problem, little knowing it would become a “yes” for many years to come.’​

Vicky is Director of GPDR Ltd. She was the immediate Past President of CIPD and is visiting fellow of Judge Business School. She became Director of Consulting Services at Towers Watson in 2010. Previously, she was at Watson Wyatt from June 2005, a partner at Ernst & Young and Managing Director of the Hay Group.

Vicky has spent 20 years as a management consultant in the human resources and change management field, underpinned by 14 years in professional human resource management.

She was also President of the UK Management Consultancies Association in 1998. She was elected to the RNLI Council in 2003 and appointed as a Trustee in July 2008. She has been an RNLI Deputy Chairman since 2012, and was appointed as a Chairman of the Remuneration Committee in 2014.

Deputy Chair and Treasurer: Eddie Donaldson BSc FCA

Image of Eddie Donaldson

‘I have always admired those in the RNLI who risk their lives for others, so I jumped at the chance to come onboard myself.’

After 23 years as a partner, Eddie retired from KPMG at the end of 2010 to focus his time on working alongside various charities. During his time with KPMG, he held various executive roles including Executive Partner for Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

His client work focused primarily on the construction and public sectors and also included manufacturing and retail.

For the last 9 years with KPMG he was the lead partner responsible for KPMG services to the Royal Household.

Eddie’s involvement with charities includes being Chairman of Create (Arts) Ltd and People Without Limits Ltd, and Trustee of XLP and The Family Trust. From 15 October 2014 Eddie is The Prime Warden of the Basket Makers Livery Company.

Eddie is currently a business advisor. He was elected to the Council in May 2013 and has since been appointed an RNLI Trustee and Treasurer. He has chaired the Finance and Investment Committees since 2014.  Eddie was appointed a Deputy Chairman in July 2016.

Eddie and his wife Mary Jane have one daughter.

Mark Byford

Image of Mark Byford

‘The appeal has always been the strong sense of volunteering, courage, independence and community.’

Under his leadership at that time, BBC World Service achieved its highest audience ever of more than 150M listeners and won prestigious Sony and Webby awards. In January 2004 he became Deputy Director-General of the BBC – but within 3 weeks of his appointment, Greg Dyke resigned as Director-General, following the publication of the Hutton Report. Mark Byford became Acting Director-General for 5 months. With no substantive Chairman and Director-General, he had to stabilise the organisation as it faced the biggest crisis in its history.

Born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, he was educated at Lincoln School before studying Law at the University of Leeds. His hobbies include family life, sport and rock music. He supports Leeds United football team and has a well-known reputation for an encyclopaedic knowledge of rock and pop music, especially regarding The Beatles.​

Mark was elected to the RNLI Council in 2011. He was appointed an RNLI Trustee in 2012. He has been a member of the Audit and Risk Committee since 2013 and was Chairman of the Fundraising and Communications Committee from 2013 until it was disbanded at the end of 2014.

He is married to Hilary and they have five children.

Janet Cooper

Janet Cooper

‘The RNLI gives an invaluable service and I am inspired by the many volunteers who work so hard to provide it.’

Janet Cooper has more than 30 years’ experience as a lawyer specialising in remuneration and corporate governance, and advising many global businesses. Janet is a co-founding partner of Tapestry Compliance and before that was a partner at global law firm Linklaters.

She is a Trustee and Vice President of the UK National Committee of UN Women, which is the United Nations entity supporting gender equality globally. She is on the Council of Roehampton University and on the board of a number of other non-profit organisations.

Janet was a member of the RNLI Resources Committee from 2011 to 2014. She was elected to the RNLI Council and appointed as a Trustee in 2014.

Janet is also a member of Institute of Directors, Institute of Business Ethics, and Forum UK, an invitation-only network that honours the top 200 women in the UK.

David Delamer

Image of David Delamer

‘For me, the RNLI gives incredible importance and value to individual life.’

David Delamer is Managing Director of Technico, a company specialising in solutions for the Irish telecoms industry. He has worked with the company for 29 years in Ireland and on contract to Alcatel in Vienna and Paris. Prior to joining Technico, he worked with Price Waterhouse, London for two years.

David is an ex-Chair of the Joint Strategic Board of the three General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland and is currently the Chairman of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.  He was a founding Trustee and Chairman of Bracken Hill School Charitable Trust, the largest community-based not-for-profit pre-school in Ireland.  He was a director and the Safety Officer for the International Optimist Dinghy Association of Ireland for 3 years.

A sailor since childhood, he has had a lifetime enthusiasm for the sea, sailing all shapes and sizes of dinghies and yachts locally from Howth and overseas. In recent years he has spent enjoyable weeks and weekends on and off the water at junior sailing events at many of the coastal and inland towns across Ireland and the UK that support organised dinghy sailing.

David was elected to the Council in 2012 and appointed a Trustee in 2014.

Sir Peter Housden KCB

Sir Peter Housden KCB, RNLI Trustee

​‘I want to help the RNLI be the very best organisation it can be, supporting coastal work both here and overseas.’

Sir Peter Housden served as Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government from 2010 to 2015. He was previously Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government and had earlier served at the Department from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Here, he was Director-General for Schools, responsible for primary and secondary education in England's 27,000 schools from 2001-2005.

Prior to joining DfES, Peter served from 1994 as Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire County Council, leading the organisation through local government review and a wide-ranging programme of modernisation. In September 2000, he was seconded to the Audit Commission for six months to lead its work on the NHS national plan.

Peter began his career at a comprehensive school teacher in Shropshire and worked as an education officer in three county authorities before being appointed Director of Education in Nottinghamshire in 1991. Peter has served as a Trustee of the Work Foundation and as an Associate Fellow of Warwick University Business School. Local Statesmen, his oral history of politics in Nottinghamshire County Council was published in 2000.

Peter was elected to the RNLI Council in 2012 and he was appointed an RNLI Trustee in 2013.

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC (P)

‘Seeing the shiny, beautiful and awe-inspiring Dungeness lifeboat aged 4 – I was hooked for life.’

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence is currently pursuing a second career in property and business consultancy. He is Chairman of Dorchester Regeneration, Non-Executive Director of Capita Symonds and Senior Military Advisor to PA Consulting. He is a member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is a Commissioner for English Heritage.

His 37-year career in the Royal Navy included a series of navigation and warfare appointments and four warship commands. His final post was as Chief Executive of Defence Estates, where he was responsible for managing most Defence land and buildings in the UK and overseas. 

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence joined the RNLI Council in 2004 and became a Trustee in 2011, when he also joined the Operations Committee. He was appointed Chairman of the Operations Committee in 2012.

Sonia Modray

Sonia Modray

‘From my first day at the RNLI I was impressed by the selfless dedication and professionalism of all involved with this inspiring organisation.’

Sonia is an interim director and business advisor.

She was interim Finance Director at the RNLI from December 2012 to April 2013 before being elected to the RNLI Council in 2014 and appointed as a Trustee in 2015.

She is a member of the Property and Finance Committees.

Chris Walters CEng MEng MBA DIC FIMarEST FRINA

Trustee Chris Walters CEng MEng MBA DIC FIMarEST FRINA

'Inspired by the courage of volunteer crews and communities that save lives while risking their own, I am a delighted to play a role in advancing the safety and performance of the RNLI fleet.'​

Chris Walters is Chief Executive Officer at TSC Inspection Systems Ltd, a company specialising in advanced non-destructive testing technology, with applications primarily in the marine and offshore oil & gas sectors. 

A Chartered Engineer and Naval Architect, Chris held senior positions over a 12 year period with the Lloyd’s Register Group, where he was the Director of Marine Operations and Senior Vice President of Oil & Gas Certification and gained extensive international business experience. Prior to joining Lloyd’s Register, Chris spent 10 years in the P&O Group, where he became General Manager of Three Quays Marine Services Ltd, a group subsidiary involved in ship design and construction.

Chris joined the RNLI in 2012 as a member of the Technical Committee and was elected to Council in May 2015.

He lives in Farnham, Surrey with his wife Penny and two sons.

The Executive Team, led by the Chief Executive, are the RNLI’s senior managers. The Chief Executive is responsible to the Trustees for the day-to-day running of the RNLI and the execution of the strategy and policies decided by the Trustee Committee. Six specialist directors are responsible for the charity's six departments.

Chief Executive

Paul Boissier
Vice Admiral, CB MA MSc

RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier at Tower Lifeboat Station. Photo: RNLI / David DevinsPaul Boissier has spent much of his working life either at sea, or closely involved with seafarers.  After graduating in mechanical Engineering from Cambridge University, he joined the Royal Navy where he specialised in navigation and served in a variety of submarines during the Cold War.  This led to two submarine commands – HMS Onyx and HMS Trafalgar – before he moved into the surface fleet as the Captain of HMS Chatham.

After this, he came ashore as the Commander of Portsmouth naval base before moving to Bristol as the Chief of Fleet Support, responsible for all Royal Navy maintenance and logistics.  His naval career ended with 2 years as the Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Navy, based in Portsmouth.

During his naval career, he spent a year at London Business School where he graduated with a Masters degree in business Management, and he also, at an earlier stage, spent a year working for Guinness where he trained as a brewer.

Paul has written three books on the sea; he spent three years as the Commodore of the Royal Navy sailing association, and is a Younger Brother of Trinity House.

He joined the RNLI in 2009 and has enjoyed every moment of the job from that point onwards.

He is married, lives in north Hampshire and enjoys travel, gardening, writing and bread-making.

For information on the Chief Executive's salary, see our FAQs.

Engineering and Asset Management Director

​Angus Watson

Angus Watson - Acting Engineering & Asset Management Director

Angus has been involved with the RNLI for 23 years, initially as a volunteer crew member in Scotland before joining as a member of staff 19 years ago.

Prior to being appointed as Engineering and Asset Management Director, Angus held the post of RNLI Head of Construction & Refit for the past five years. As a member of the senior leadership team he was directly responsible for the strategic delivery of approximately 400 Lifeboat and Launch & recovery projects each year with a total spend of around £30m.  This is achieved through the three in-house production facilities: ALC, ILC and SARc, along with external commercial contractors around the UK and Ireland.

Angus moved to Poole in 2000 to take up the position of Project Manager with the Operations department where he was responsible for establishing the RNLI’s first lifeboat stations on inland waters. His initial appointment as a RNLI staff member was based in Dublin as a Lifeboat Surveyor for Ireland, assessing the Lifeboat fleet condition and supporting the volunteer crews around the coast.

Prior to joining the RNLI, Angus started his career as an apprentice maintenance technician. By his mid-twenties he was responsible for delivering various engineering projects in senior management positions within the oil industry, delivering high value, safety critical projects on North Sea production & exploration rigs. This experience led him into establishing a new general Engineering / Boatyard facility in Scotland, providing maintenance and support for both marine and land based industries.

As part of the RNLI executive team Angus will share his vast experience and qualifications in engineering, marine surveying and commercial procurement across all areas of the organisation.

Angus lives in rural Dorset with his family and spends his spare time spectating motor sport, taking country walks, and providing the services of personal decorator for his better half and 24/7 chauffeur for his 16 year old son!

International Director

James Vaughan 

James Vaughan

James joined the RNLI in 1998 after a number of years in the advertising industry working on a wide spectrum brands from Gordon’s Gin to the Atomic Energy Authority. He initially worked at the RNLI across a variety of marketing, fundraising and communication roles but in 2008 he was appointed as Corporate Services Director and continued a career covering a broad portfolio with responsibilities including Estate management, Governance, Business planning and Continuous Improvement.

In 2011 James moved back to the Fundraising and Communications team as the Director and led a substantial restructure to ensure the ‘funding engine’ of the RNLI was capable of delivering the income required by the RNLI’s 20 year strategic plan.

Following the organisation’s strategic review in 2014, James moved to his third director role to head up the new International Value stream. This involves the exploring how the RNLI can make a meaningful impact on the massive number of drowning deaths each year around the world – most of which occur in low and middle income countries. The strategy sees the RNLI developing a collaborative approach to raising the issue of global drowning and developing simple but effective solutions to build capability in communities around the world.

Born in London, he is married to Sara and they live in North Dorset with their two teenage sons. A keen sailor and smallholder, he balances the competing demands of family life, work, animal husbandry and whenever possible, some sailing!

Finance and Corporate Strategy Director

Alan Pardon

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in London, Alan gained a wide range of experience working with a number of global engineering organisations in senior corporate and operational financial roles. These included Schlumberger, the leading oilfield services provider, GKN/Westland, the helicopter and aerospace group, and more recently as Group Finance Director of the Hamworthy Combustion Group.

He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and The Chartered Management Institute. Alan and his wife Heather have four grown-up children and live in West Dorset.




People and Transformation Director

Sue Barnes

Sue Barnes - People and Transformation Director

With a career spanning over 25 years within the logistics and distribution sector, Sue held the role of HR Director UK and Ireland for TNT Express for the last 8 years and was a member of the Board of Directors. With 9,000 employees across the UK and Ireland, operating out of 55+ locations, her focus for the past 4 years has been on implementing a significant change agenda to ensure a more agile business, communicating the purpose of the change throughout the organisation, to ensure all the teams had clarity on direction and expectations.

Recognising it is people who truly make the difference in taking an organisation forward and building lasting connections with stakeholders, Sue has a passion for improving results and realising successful change through the development of people performance and capability. Building focus to ensure the engagement of people, collaboration, communication and involvement are central to the business agenda.

Sue joined the RNLI in October 2015. As a supporter of the RNLI for many years, Sue can absolutely align to the values, purpose and ethos of the RNLI and is committed to ensure that we can deliver upon our vision and realise the benefits for the future.

Sue is married and living near Wimbourne, and enjoys socialising and getting out and about in the beautiful Dorset countryside and coast. She also enjoys cycling around the area and keeping fit.

Operations Director

George Rawlinson

George has a Class 1 Master Mariners (Foreign going) Certificate of Competency and a Diploma in Management Studies (Shipping) from Plymouth University.

His background is in shipping. In 1975 he joined P&O as a Group Deck Cadet. As a cadet, he served mainly on general cargo, and refrigerated cargo ships.  He joined Crescent Shipping soon after gaining his Second Mates Ticket (Foreign going) and served with Crescent in the rank of Chief Officer trading in the Baltic, North Europe and the Mediterranean (including rivers, canal work and cable laying) before working briefly ashore in ship operations (Ship Link UK Ltd., Rochester, Kent).

He joined the RNLI as Deputy Divisional Inspector/West in 1990 and was promoted to Divisional Inspector/West in 1995 and Divisional Inspector South in 1998.  He then moved to become Staff Officer Operations (Divisions) at HQ in 2002 and was responsible for dealing with the management of the Divisional Inspectors and the operational divisions.  In 2007 he was appointed as Head of Operations (Lifesaving Delivery).

He has been an active member of the RNLI’s Health and Safety Committee and the staff team chairman of ‘Channel’ since its formation. Since becoming Head of Operations (Lifesaving Delivery) he has had oversight of delivering the Institution’s lifeguard service, sea safety programmes and flood rescue activities. 

He lives close to Blandford, Dorset and has maintained his sailing interests throughout his time with the RNLI. 

Business Support and Services Director

Angela Rook

Anjie joined the RNLI in 1993 as Retail Operations Manager in Sales Company) transferring to Business Support (formerly known as Corporate Services) in December 2002 as Special Projects Manager.  She has a passion for good governance and become a Chartered Company Secretary in 2009.

After leading on several strategic programmes, Anjie set up the organisation wide Continuous Improvement programme in 2010.

In 2012, Anjie became a Director, initially covering Corporate Strategy, Improvement, Innovation, Legal Services and ITC, and then in 2015, taking additional responsibility for all support services, including People Services, Finance Services, Supporter Services, and Major Site Services.

She lives in Hamworthy, Poole, with her husband Kevin, has 2 grown up children and a passion to see to experience the world and all its wonderful diversity.


Director of Community Lifesaving and Fundraising

Leesa Harwood

Leesa Harwood - Director of Community Lifesaving and FundraisingLeesa began her not for profit career in 1991 in the USA at the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and then the American Cancer Society in South Florida.  On returning to the UK she spent a number of years working with Business in the Community, then as Head of Community Fundraising at Save the Children UK and Head of Fundraising at the Dartington Hall Trust in Devon.

In 2009 she joined the RNLI where she became Head of Engagement.  She later became Deputy Director of Fundraising and Communications, providing interim leadership of the Fundraising and Communications Department. In October 2014 Leesa became Director of Community Lifesaving and Fundraising at the RNLI where, as well as maintaining responsibility for securing the organisation’s income requirements she leads the delivery of the lifeboat, lifeguard, flood rescue and coastal safety provision.

Vice Presidents are appointed by the Trustee Board as a mark of special recognition of service to the RNLI.

David Acland CBE DL
Robin Aisher OBE
Rosanna Allen-Mirehouse
Richard F Barclay FCIB
Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL
Robert Braithwaite CBE DL
Robin Broadhurst CBE FRICS
Belinda Bucknall QC
Michael Buerk
Captain Roy Bullen MBE
The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Carey of Clifton PC FRSA
R Angus Clark CBE
George Clark
Victor Cocker CBE BA(Econ) FIWEM CIMgt
Robert Colvill
Vice Admiral Sir John Coward KCB DSO
John Coyle
Peter Crowley
Sir Andrew Cubie CBE FRSE
Dr Ian Dand BSc PhD  FEng FRINA FRSA
Dr Ronald Delany LLB
Tony Dorey OBE BSc CEng FRINA
The Hon Mrs Felicity Douglas-Home
John Drake
Maldwin Drummond OBE DL HonDSc FSA
Philip Gilbert CVO OBE
Dr Norman Godman
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon GCB CBE FRAES
The Lord Greenway
Helen Griffiths
David Grose M.I.H FCMI
Anthony Hannay LLB
Commodore Sir Robert Hastie KCVO CBE KSTJ RD* JP RNR
Peter Hodges MNI
Robert Hollond
The Rt Hon the Earl Howe
Lord Iliffe DL
Sir John James KCVO CBE
Martin Jay CBE DL
Terence Johnson
His Honour Judge Graham Jones
His Honour Judge Graham Hume Jones
Captain George King CBE FRIN
Captain Liam Kirwan MN.AFRIN. MAR.SURV
Peter Killen
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston CBE RD*
Rear Admiral John Lang DL
Richard Leworthy
Clayton Love Jnr
Norma Marwick
John McAuley
Captain Tony McCrum RN
Sir Peter Miller
Vice Admiral Sir Christopher Morgan KBE
Rear Admiral John Myres CB
Ronald Neil CBE
Peter Nicholson CBE
The Rt Hon Albert Owen MP
Keith Read CBE FIMarEST
Doug Pattison FREng FRINA CEng RCNC
Sir Alan Reid GCVO
The Rt Hon Sir John Roch
Rear Admiral Sir Patrick Rowe KCVO CBE
Alison Saunders MBE
Simon Sherrard DL
Admiral Sir Jock Slater GCB LVO DL
Sir Nigel Southward KCVO
Vice Admiral RR Squires
Maurice Storey CB CEng FIMarEST FRINA
Dame Valerie Strachan DCB
The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP
Air Vice Marshal John Tetley CB CVO
Vice Admiral Sir Jonathan Tod KCB CBE
Rear Admiral John Tolhurst CB FRAeS
Peter Venton OBE BSc CEng MIET
Malcolm Vincent MSc CEng FIMarEST
Sir Peter Viggers
Philip Wake OBE MSc RD* FNI
The Rt Hon the Lord Wakeham PC DL
Sir Peter Walters
Captain Sir Miles Wingate KCVO FNI
Jim Woodhouse
Peter Workman OBE

The Royal Charter and Bye-Laws are the RNLI's two key constitutional documents.  They were most recently revised and updated in 2011, and received HM The Queen's approval in Privy Council in October 2011. If you have any questions or comments on any of our governing documents, please contact us.