The Inland Waterways Association (IWA), the only independent, national charity campaigning for Britain’s canals and rivers, has appointed Professor Sarah Niblock as CEO.
Sarah will have primary responsibility for the organisation’s long-term strategy as she takes up her role this month. Raised on Merseyside, Sarah is an experienced narrowboater and a qualified helmsman. She has more than 15 years’ senior leadership experience in the university and charity sectors and joins IWA from the UK Council for Psychotherapy where she was Chief Executive.
She is an advisor to Imperial College London’s Climate Cares research project, examining the interconnection between the natural environment and our wellbeing. Sarah was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2022 by Edge Hill University for her contribution to public life and is a visiting professor in counselling psychology at York St John University.
Sarah said: “Supporting and regenerating our inland waterways is one of the top talking points in the UK. It’s no wonder, given the well-documented role that our rivers, estuaries and canals play in our economy, ecology and wellbeing.
“Canals and rivers are invaluable assets which help the country’s economic recovery, save on NHS budgets, connect communities and help climate change resilience.
“I’ve personally benefited from the waterways all my life, and I am determined to place them centre stage in the hearts and minds of parliamentarians, the media and the public.
“My top priority is the Protect Our Waterways campaign to ensure that all our inland waterways are adequately funded to deliver all the benefits detailed in our Waterways for Today report.”
Speaking about her appointment, Les Etheridge, national chair of IWA said:
“We are very happy to welcome Sarah to the role. Having someone with her experience will drive forward our work to champion waterways for all. As our Protect Our Waterways campaign gathers momentum, this is a critical moment to join and lead the organisation from our successful campaigning past into a bright future where everyone recognises the benefits our incredible waterways network offers.
“Her enthusiasm, professionalism, and depth of experience means she will be a great asset and we look forward to welcoming and working with her.”
For over 75 years, IWA have campaigned locally and nationally for the waterways. IWA is dedicated to supporting and regenerating Britain’s waterways – for leisure, living and business. We believe our waterways are vital and precious environments for everyone to enjoy.