Saving Lives Runs in the Family as Kieran Becomes Scotland’s Youngest Crewmember

DUNBAR schoolboy Kieran Fairbairn has just become Scotland’s youngest RNLI lifeboat volunteer crewmember.

Kieran (left) gets a taste of life on the D-class inshore lifeboat (ILB) (photo: Nick Mailer)

Kieran (left) gets a taste of life on the D-class inshore lifeboat (ILB) (photo: Nick Mailer)

Kieran – the son of Dunbar Lifeboat coxswain Gary Fairbairn – has received his pager a month after turning 17, the youngest age anyone can join the crew.

The Dunbar Grammar School pupil is now on call to respond to any life-saving emergencies – even if it means racing from the classroom.

Kieran has begun his training and will serve on Dunbar station’s two lifeboats – the all-weather (ALB) and the D-class inshore (ILB). And he has big boots to fill – as both his dad and great-great-great grandfather were awarded medals for bravery after daring rescues at sea.

Gary and Kieran Fairbairn aboard Dunbar’s all-weather lifeboat (ALB). (photo: Nick Mailer)

Gary and Kieran Fairbairn aboard Dunbar’s all-weather lifeboat (ALB). (photo: Nick Mailer)

Kieran said: “Lifeboats have been in my family since forever. I’ve grown up around it, I’ve been a herald for Dunbar’s Lifeboat Day celebrations and I used to watch my dad going off on rescues from our window. Now it feels fantastic to have the pager and be part of the crew myself. And it’s great to be able to give something back to the community I live in.”

Kieran is in his final year at high school, studying for Higher and National 5 qualifications, but he might have to put his school work on hold should the pagers go off while he’s in class. He said: “My teachers have given me special dispensation to be out of class. I might have to wait a while before I get my first shout but I hope, with the training I have to do, when the time comes I’ll be ready.”

Kieran takes his pager to school, where teachers at Dunbar Grammar have been very supportive of his volunteering. (Photo: Nick Mailer)

Kieran takes his pager to school, where teachers at Dunbar Grammar have been very supportive of his volunteering. (Photo: Nick Mailer)

Although lifeboats have been in the Fairbairn family’s blood, Gary, 48, says it wasn’t a given that his son would follow in his footsteps.

The fulltime coxswain and volunteer for 23 years said: “It came as a shock to me, to be honest, when he asked to join. I had asked him if he was interested in the past but he never showed much enthusiasm. I wasn’t going to push him. It always had to be up to him.

“And we are very grateful to have the understanding and cooperation of his teachers at Dunbar Grammar School. We thank them for being very supportive.”

Gary hopes Kieran’s involvement might inspire others from his generation to join up. “We are always looking for volunteers – particularly for our D-class inshore lifeboat. Kieran’s generation will be the future of this station. That’s the way it’s always been – the older hands passing on their know-how to the next generation.”

And Gary says that when it comes to his son there will be no favouritism. He said: “Nothing will change. Whatever the shout and whatever the emergency I have to pick the best crew available for the job in hand. But at Dunbar, every volunteer gets their chance to be involved on our shouts.”

Kieran, with his new ILB crew mates, on exercise. (Photo: Nick Mailer)

Kieran, with his new ILB crew mates, on exercise. (Photo: Nick Mailer)

The Fairbairn name is so synonymous with saving lives at sea in Dunbar the town named a street in their honour. Gary was awarded the bronze medal – and his crew medal certificates – for bravery after the rescue in May 2009 of a couple from their stricken yacht in force 9 winds and 10m waves. Over a hundred years before, in 1905, Walter Fairbairn was awarded the silver medal for helping save the lives of 40 men in a seagoing yacht that had run adrift. Gary’s dad, David, also served on the crew in the 1980s.

And although Gary is proud to see Kieran maintaining the connection, he said there were times the job really brought home to him the importance of family.

He said: “Some jobs have been so rough I’ve kept the details from my family and one job sticks in my memory because we were tasked to a boy who’d fallen from cliffs who was the same age as Kieran. I immediately thought, ‘that could have been him’. Will it be at the back of my mind, that I’m potentially taking my son into a dangerous situation? Of course. In the old days multiple family members were not permitted on shouts in case of loss, but today the boats are a lot safer, and sometimes it can pay to have someone you know well alongside you. My brother-in-law Kenny Peters was my mechanic here on many rescues – including the yacht episode – and it felt he knew exactly what I was thinking. But that concern will always be at the back of my mind.”

And it might not be long before there’s a third Fairbairn on the crew. Gary added: “My daughter Jodi, who’s 14 just now, is also desperate to join!”

(Photo: Nick Mailer)

(Photo: Nick Mailer)

Gaz Has All the Tools For New Mechanic Role

Dunbar RNLI are pleased to announce that Gary “Gaz” Crowe is the station’s new inshore lifeboat mechanic.

Gaz Crowe, new mechanic for the ILB.

Gaz Crowe, new mechanic for the ILB.

Gaz, 27, is reprising a role that had previously been in operation at the station and it is his third major position since joining the Dunbar crew just six years ago. He is already a helm on the inshore lifeboat (ILB) and has played an instrumental role in promoting the work of the station as a Lifeboat Press Officer, where perhaps his crowning glory was his excited video capture, while on the all-weather lifeboat, of a family of dolphins – including a “wee baby one” – that created headlines as far as the Washington Post!

In addition to all of that, Gaz also helps organise station visits and many of the crew’s social events.

Gaz, who also works full-time as a laboratory process operator at the Tarmac cement factory, is relishing his new role – but says he still has to pinch himself at the opportunities that have come his way since he signed up as a volunteer on the crew.

He had no previous maritime experience but, being Dunbar born and bred, grew up fascinated by the lifeboats and their place in the community.

Gaz said: “I wanted to join for a long time before my fiancée Bethany put me forward. Having no maritime background I thought there would be minimum requirements you had to meet.

“I quickly found out though that the RNLI provides all the training you need – providing you’re willing to give that commitment.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the experience I’ve had from being a volunteer.

“It changes every day here. I’ve gone from someone who was just thrilled to be part of training and being able to go on service calls, to working my way to becoming a helm and helping on the media front. Now I’m helping train new volunteers. 

“I never imagined when I signed up that I would be in charge of three crew on a £50,000 boat but the lifeboat crew has shown me that you get back what you put in here.

“I never had the responsibility of teaching someone before but now I relish the challenge on exercises of training someone so when they go out on a service call they are ready.”

Gaz, who has previously trained as a joiner, once spent four months on a mechanic course, but essentially all the knowledge needed for the role will be provided on station.

And Gaz hopes his experience might inspire other would-be volunteers who are at the same stage in life as he was to give it a crack.

He said: “Here you are pushed but comfortably pushed. I had no commitments when I joined so I could throw myself into it. I got a kick out of being part of the crew and I want any new volunteer to feel the same way.”

Dunbar Volunteer Mark Honoured for 20 Years Service

Dunbar Lifeboat 2nd coxswain Mark Anderson has been recognised for two decades of saving lives at sea with a long service award. 

Mark Anderson (centre) receives his long service badge from coxswain Gary Fairbairn (left) and lifeboat operations manager (LOM) Dave Anderson (right).  (Photo: Gaz Crowe)

Mark Anderson (centre) receives his long service badge from coxswain Gary Fairbairn (left) and lifeboat operations manager (LOM) Dave Anderson (right).

(Photo: Gaz Crowe)

Mark, 58, joined the crew in 1998 a few years after moving to the town from Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, to work in the cement factory. Since then he has risen to the position of 2nd coxswain and has become an integral part of the station. Although he recently retired from the cement works, he plans to continue with the role he loves – helping those in trouble.

Mark said: “When I joined the RNLI I never thought I’d see so much of the country and coastline and it gives me great pride to think of the shouts I’ve been on and the people I’ve been able to help. There have been some great times and some sad moments, which you have to cope with, but on the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

“Although my family didn’t have a maritime background, I have always been into boats and, if I had my time again, I might well have taken a job that allowed me to go to sea.

“Being part of the lifeboat crew has given me a chance to do something for the community. You have to make sacrifices but it’s been worth it.”

Dunbar coxswain Gary Fairbairn paid tribute to Mark’s service. He said: “It’s been an honour to serve with Mark for 20 years through thick and thin and he deserves this recognition.”

Mark was presented with his long service badge at the station this week. He joins fellow crew members Alistair Punton, 2nd mechanic, deputy launching authority Denholm Horsburgh and Gary Fairbairn in reaching such a milestone.

Bids Boost for Boats

A unique art auction has raised £410 for Dunbar Lifeboats.

Two RNLI-themed creations from coastal artists were specially commissioned by the Found Gallery in Dunbar’s High Street and opened up to bids, with 50% of the proceeds going to the charity.

The pieces – a rugged lifeboat man designed by Suffolk-based Joe Lawrence and a lifeboat created from recycled objects by Seth Draper – captured the imagination of art enthusiasts far and wide.

Amy Christie (centre) of the Found Gallery presents her cheque to Chris Woods (left) and Rebecca Miller (right) of Dunbar lifeboat crew. (photo: Gaz Crowe)

Amy Christie (centre) of the Found Gallery presents her cheque to Chris Woods (left) and Rebecca Miller (right) of Dunbar lifeboat crew. (photo: Gaz Crowe)

The auction was held to coincide with this year’s Lifeboat Day, on July 14, and Amy Christie of the Found Gallery was delighted with the response.

She said: “We were delighted to be able to take part in such a brilliant community event. Our Found team and I had a great time at Lifeboat Day making origami boats and clay creations at Dunbar Harbour. And our two fabulous pieces by Seth Draper and Joe Lawrence have found new homes and we’ve managed to raise some funds for the local station.” 

The two pieces auctioned – the rugged lifeboat man designed by Suffolk-based Joe Lawrence and the lifeboat created from recycled objects by Seth Draper (photo by Nick Mailer)

The two pieces auctioned – the rugged lifeboat man designed by Suffolk-based Joe Lawrence and the lifeboat created from recycled objects by Seth Draper (photo by Nick Mailer)

Both winning bidders wished to remain anonymous, but the lifeboat went to a local bidder and the lifeboat man went to a bidder in Poole, in Dorset, where the RNLI has its headquarters.

Presenting the cheque last week to Rebecca Miller and Chris Woods of the Dunbar crew, Amy added: “I would like to thank our artists, plus Nick Mailer for his images and Rebecca and Chris from the lifeboat crew for helping with our photo shoot! It’s been so much fun... and I got to see inside the lifeboat station too!”

Veronica Davies, chair of Dunbar RNLI Fundraising Committee, said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to Amy, Seth and Joe for supporting Dunbar RNLI. The ceramic pieces were beautifully crafted and I am not surprised that they raised such a large sum of money. Thanks also to everyone who put in a bid for the pieces.”


Dunbar Lifeboats Benefit from Big-Arted Auction

Dunbar RNLI are set to benefit from a unique auction to coincide with the town’s Lifeboat Day this Saturday (July 14).


Coastal artists Seth Draper and Joe Lawrence have joined up with The Found Gallery, on Dunbar’s High Street, to offer an exclusive chance to bid on their RNLI themed creations.

Both artists and the gallery will be generously donating 50% of the proceeds of their work to the RNLI station in Dunbar. 

Amy Christie of the Found Gallery said: “Here at the Found Gallery in Dunbar, we showcase work by many talented artists who are inspired by the British coast. Two of our favourites have been busy creating RNLI themed pieces for our forthcoming charity auction.”

Joe, a ceramic artist who lives in Suffolk has shown his amazing ability to capture the character of a rugged lifeboat man in ceramic, something which he usually does with great skill to fishermen and beachcombers alike. 


Seth, a mixed media sculptor, uses found and recycled objects to create his masterpieces has created a Lifeboat sculpture inspired by our all-weather lifeboat (ALB) to accompany the lifeboat man. Both pieces will be auctioned separately to coincide with the RNLI Dunbar Lifeboat day on Saturday, July 14.  

The Found Gallery is hosting and supporting the auction and both pieces are now on display. The gallery – which is open from Mon–Sat from 10am–5pm pm – will have a craft-filled day of events for the whole family as well as their usual selection of gorgeous artwork. 


Bids will need to be submitted to them via phone, email or in person at the Found Gallery, 84 High Street, Dunbar, EH42 1JH.

For more information please contact the gallery on 01368 863030, or Amy direct on [email protected]

Photo captions: Becs Miller and Chris Woods, of Dunbar Lifeboat crew, with the two pieces for auction – the lifeboat man by Seth Draper and lifeboat from Joe Lawrence (Photos by Nick Mailer, also a volunteer on the crew)

Gala Queen All Set For Coronation

The Queen’s Court has been announced for this year’s Dunbar RNLI Lifeboat Day.


This year’s Lifeboat Queen will be Beth Mackay, 14, with attendants Mia Thomson, 11, and Anushka Demer, 12. Joining them will be herald Gavin Duffy, ten, and flower girl Mirren Ross, seven.

The children all have a connection to the town’s volunteer lifeboat crew or fishing community, or are members of civic groups. Beth is the daughter of Gordon Mackay, deputy second coxswain on the crew, while Mirren’s dad Alan is also on the crew. Mia’s uncle and grandfather were both fishermen and another relative David Kittrick is a long-standing member of the crew. Anushka’s father Quentin is the harbour master, while Gavin is a member of the Boys’ Brigade.

The children will take centre stage at the lifeboat fete on Saturday, July 14, 2018. The parade along the High Street begins from the Hillside Hotel at 1.15pm, before the crowing of the Queen takes place at 2pm.

Among the fun and games at the harbour will be a chance to see the volunteer lifeboat crew in action and an opportunity to step aboard our all-weather lifeboat. Entertainment will be provided by the Strictly for the Lifeboats dancers and live music. Vintage cars and Harley Davidson motorbikes will be on show, there will be numerous stalls to browse, a bar to stop by and for the children there’s a funfair, plus much more.

Photos: (L-R), Mirren Ross, Mia Thomson, Beth Mackay, Anushka Demer, Gavin Duffy. 

Well deserved recognition for Veronica Davies and the fundraising team

Congratulations to Veronica Davies, chair of our fundraising committee, who was honoured this week with a Citizen Award from Dunbar Community Council in recognition of the incredible work she and her team have done to raise money for our lifeboats over the years.

Veronica and her team work tirelessly to raise funds every year and make our annual Lifeboat Day a huge success.

Well done! 



Big Thank You To Dalkeith 3rd Guides.

Last Wednesday (30-5-18) the volunteer crew had the pleasure of showing the 3rd Dalkeith guides around Dunbar lifeboat station. The guides contacted the crew to arrange a visit as part of their girl-guiding water safety badge which they will be studying next term.

The girls had the chance to get on-board Dunbars inshore lifeboat and look at all the lifesaving equipment that the crew use. Part of the guides requirements for their water safety badge is to throw a rope over 5 meters, the crew got all the girls to try the throw-bags which are used on our boats, and all girls managed to successfully throw much further than 5 meters. The crew also showed the girls some lifesaving techniques from the latest RNLI respect the water campaign. 

Helmsmen Gaz Crowe along with helmsmen Alan Blair receiving the cheque from the winning team.

Helmsmen Gaz Crowe along with helmsmen Alan Blair receiving the cheque from the winning team.

At the end of the evening the girls informed the crew that they had been raising money for the RNLI over a period of time. The girls where in teams and the team who raised the most money won. The teams raised the money over various events such as bake sales, sponsored triathlon, movie nights and also a cinema night. Between all teams the girls raised a huge £806.95! The cheque was present by the winning team to two of Dunbars helmsman.  

A big thanks to the Dalkeith guides from all the crew here at Dunbar lifeboat station, this money will provide more lifesaving equipment and training for all crews within the RNLI. 

IMG-20180530-WA0007 (1).jpg

Rise In Callouts For Dunbar Lifeboat Crew In 2016

Dunbar’s volunteer lifeboat crew saw an increase in callouts and rescues last year.

The town’s All Weather Lifeboat (ALB) and In-shore Lifeboat (ILB) were called out a total of 33 times in 2016, a rise of 11 shouts from the previous year.

The crews rescued 23 people in total, 14 with the ILB and nine with the ALB. Of those rescued, just one was under 18. None of those rescued required medical attention from the volunteers.

Fourteen of the callouts took place in the dark, highlighting the 24-nature of the volunteer service.

The number of callouts for 2016 represented a five-year high in shouts for Dunbar.

The RNLI is using these rescue statistics to ask the public to make safety a priority, whether that means wearing a lifejacket, checking their vessel before they go afloat, knowing they should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency, checking the tide times before they set out, or staying away from cliff edges and unstable coastal paths.

Will Stephens, the RNLI’s Head of Lifesaving, said: ‘Once again we are extremely grateful for the dedication shown by our lifesavers. Our volunteer lifeboat crews spent over 228,869 hours at sea last year, but we really do see our rescue service as a last resort.

‘We’d really like to see people paying more attention to safety messages and giving the water the heathy respect it deserves. While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people staying safer at the coast.’

Farewell to long serving crewman after over 30 years of service

Mike on the left being presented his long service medal by Dave Anderson the lifeboat operations manager at Dunbar.

After over 30 years of service Mike Shaw is turning off his pager for the last time. Mike joined the crew back in the mid 80s as a young man eager to volunteer for his local RNLI station.

Mike took part in a number of shouts over the years showing his ability to help others in desperate times and gaining the trust from his fellow crewman and friends. 

After 10 years as a crewman Mike decided to stand down from crew and focus on being shore crew.  He has been the warming face on the pier after long shouts to many crew over the years. Helping casualties tie up their vessels and offering help when it was needed the most. He has also helped neighbouring stations far and wide while he was off on family holidays. 

Coxswain Gary Fairbairn presents Mike with his gift and thanks him for his time and work over the years. 

Mike was presented with his long service medal at the crews annual Christmas meal on Saturday night along with a gift from all the crew and the station. Mike will be deeply missed by all here at Dunbar lifeboat station and we would like to thank him for all his time and work he has given up over the many years of service. 

From all the crew here at Dunbar we wish Mike the very best in the future.


Lifeboat Cube launched to raise funds for RNLI!

Courtesy of GWS Photography, Dunbar 

Dunbar RNLI in conjunction with GWS photography launch their Lifeboat Cube Poster to help raise funds for our brave volunteers! Check out your favourite member of the crew 'strike the pose' in a wee MDF box, all in the aid of charity! The crew at Dunbar lifeboat station have been busy visiting GWS photography down at there new studio at East links. Grahame kindly agreed to put together a crew cube to help raise funds for the RNLI. The crew visited his studio over a number of sessions with different equipment to try and show there humorous sides. This was great experience for all the crew who are delighted with the turn out.

The cube picture is available to buy online at all proceeds will be donated to the RNLI up until the 31st of December so get your orders in quick! 


Courtesy of GWS Photography, Dunbar

Grahame also very kindly took professional portraits of all the crew who attended and are also available to purchase too. This would be a great Christmas present for all family and friends. These can also be found online at 

On behalf of all the crew here at Dunbar Lifeboat station we would like to say a massive thank you to Grahame and all his team at GWS photography for all the hard work they have put into this. You can see more of Grahame's work here on his main website.

Dunbar Lifeboat Queen 2016

With just 24 days to go to our annual Lifeboat day on the 16th of July, preparations are already underway on making the day a huge success. 

As always Dunbar Grammar School had the big job of deciding who this years lifeboat queen would be. Each year the School asks the pupils to pick someone who has a connection with either the fishing community or Dunbar lifeboat. This is the same process for Dunbar Primary School as well who have to pick two attendants to be part of the big day. To complete the lineup a herald and flower girl are also picked from either family of the lifeboat crew or the fishing community within Dunbar.  


We are happy to announce the line up for Dunbar Lifeboat Day 2016 


Dunbar lifeboat Queen: Joanna McPhillips

Attendants: Jodi Fairbairn & Ruby-Sky Forrester

 Herald: Lee Courtney

Flower girl: Ava Crowe 


The Queen will also be invited to do a station visit ahead of the gala day to have a look around and be introduced to full time coxswain Gary Fairbairn and station mechanic Gipper Ainslie. The inshore lifeboat along with its crew and crew from the all weather lifeboat will also be there to say hello. 


Remember to invite all the family for a fun packed day out! 

last years Lifeboat day 2015. photo credit Jeff Carter  

Dunbar lifeboat open day June 19th! Your Local Lifeboat station needs you!


some of the volunteer shop workers 

The idea of the June 19th event is to encourage people to find out more about how the station operates and highlight the volunteering opportunities.

Station fund raising convener Veronica Davies says anyone with an interest in lifeboats is most welcome to attend.

“It is amazing the number of people who are involved in one way or another in keeping the station going. There are volunteering opportunities on all levels from helping out for a few hours on a fete day to undergoing the intensive training offered by the RNLI and becoming a member of the crew.

There will be existing volunteers on hand between 1pm and 4pm on the Sunday to explain their roles and give an insight into how the station works also both lifeboats will be on display for the public to have a look around.

Dunbar RNLI lifeboat coxswain Gary Fairbairn and members of the crews of both the All Weather Lifeboat and the inshore boat will be on hand to tell potential volunteers about the training on offer.

Gary said: “We are hoping to find some recruits for the inshore and all weather lifeboat teams – ideally people living and working in Dunbar and available for call outs day and night.

“The great thing about the RNLI is the training is superb and even people with no seagoing experience can become valuable members of the team.

“Some of the most senior crew members had very little boat experience before joining the station and we are very supportive of newcomers and do all we can to help them become qualified and valued. All roles in the station are open equally to men and women.”

The open day is at the lifeboat station on the Victoria Harbour between 1pm and 4pm on Sunday June 19th.

Come speak to the amazing team we have here at Dunbar and find out if you have what it takes!

Shaggy Dog story leads to a whopper RNLI donation

THE heart-warming story of a dog rescued by Dunbar RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew has raised a remarkable £2,800 for the station – and helped educate children on seaside safety.

Left to right: Laura with Bramble Crew: Rebecca and Chrissstopher also Jane with Thistle 

Left to right: Laura with Bramble Crew: Rebecca and Chrissstopher also Jane with Thistle 

‘Bramble and Thistle’, a children’s book penned by Laura Graham, illustrated by her friend Jane Rutherford and inspired by the work of Dunbar’s RNLI lifeboat crew, has sold out its print run, raising the staggering amount in the process.

Laura and Jane, two teachers at Belhaven Hill School, teamed up to publish the book after being amazed by the work of their local volunteer crew.

Laura, whose Bedlington Terrier Bramble has now starred in two children’s adventures, said: “We were thrilled by the interest in the book. It had only been on sale since December but completely sold out.

“We asked people to make a donation for the book and most people very generously gave £5. Thanks to another incredibly generous donation that covered our printing costs we were able to pass all the proceeds to Dunbar lifeboat station.

“The crew do a lot of good work with the school children so it’s been great to be able to give something back.”

Delighted Dunbar RNLI Coxswain Gary Fairbairn, said: “We can’t thank Laura and Jane enough. What they have done is a great achievement, especially in a small town like Dunbar.”

Gary, who took receipt of the cheque from Laura and Jane this week, added: “Not only is it a lovely story but it will hit home to kids the importance of staying safe at the seaside.”

The book, which was sold in various shops around Dunbar, told the story of mischievous scamp Bramble landing Thistle in trouble on Belhaven Beach. The quick thinking dog raised the alarm, however, sparking a rescue from the volunteer crew.

Dunbar Lifeboat Day 2015 only 7 days to go!!

           Only 7 days to go till our big annual gala day!                                                

Please help share to all your friends and family!

We hope you're all ready for the big day next saturday 18th July down the harbour. The crew and fundraisers are hard at work getting all the last bits and pieces ready for an amazing family day out!  The parade starts at 13:15 down the high street. Our  ILB along with your friendly coastguard team and local Fire bridge will also be waving their way down the street, so make sure to give them wave back!  

The harbour will be packed with loads to do for all the family along with belhaven's best bar! The all weather lifeboat will be tied up alongside the pier for all to step on board and have a look around! with some crew on hand to tell their stories. The ILB will also be in the harbour doing some exercises.


Weather and service calls permitted, Rescue 177 from HMS Gannet will be flying in to have a exercise with both our lifeboats. Showing everyone how we transfer casualties from boat to helicopter. Make sure to get your cameras ready! 

We are also looking for anyone who would like to donate any raffle/tombola prizes or even some of your amazing home baking! If you think you could help out in any way possible please contact us via or facebook or twitter accounts. Every little helps and will be greatly appreciated!! Thank you in advance.  


           Please help share this and spread the word about an amazing day out for everyone!



                                           We look forward to seeing you all next weekend! 



Dunbar man named in Queen’s Birthday Honours for transforming community support

Ken Headley with his wife Marie receiving the Retail Supporter Award from HRH the Duke of Kent at the RNLI’s 2009 Annual Supporter Awards

Lifetime supporter of the RNLI, Ken Headley, has been recognised in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours List with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his transformative approach to charity fundraising in Dunbar, Scotland.


Ken Headley has supported the Dunbar lifeboat by raising an incredible £75,000 of donations in one year alone. Taking on the role of running the lifeboat station shop when it was threatened with closure due to a lack of volunteers, Ken worked tirelessly with his wife Marie to bring in new supporters and give the shop a new lease of life. Over the next five years he transformed the shop into a vibrant, thriving retail unit with strong connections to the local community in spite of its challenging location.

In 2012 Ken took on an even greater challenge in opening Scotland’s first high street RNLI lifeboat souvenir shop. This was no mean feat as the premises required a significant amount of work to bring it up to an acceptable standard as well as doubling his commitment of time and effort to manage the two full-time shops. With the full support of the Dunbar lifeboat crew behind him, thanks to his track record of hard work and commitment to the RNLI, Ken was able to engage the skills of the volunteer crew themselves to undertake significant parts of the work for free which substantially brought down the cost of renovation.

Incredibly Ken has taken sales from less than £7,000 in one year to a cumulative turnover of the two shops being in excess of £75,700. This massive growth in turnover is a direct result of Ken’s exceptional efforts and passion for the RNLI. The total turnover since 2008 would actually pay for the Dunbar inshore lifeboat five times over. 

RNLI Chief Executive, Paul Boissier, said: ‘In a charity like the RNLI you sometimes come across a volunteer whose single-handed efforts make a huge difference.  Ken Headley is one such volunteer. 

‘It is testament to Ken’s passion for fundraising that the two shops now have no shortage of willing volunteers with Ken fitting their shifts around their availability. The Chairman of Dunbar Lifeboat Station recognises that Ken’s leadership has had a fundamental impact on the way the RNLI raises funds in and around Dunbar and the new shop has been a real boost to the town, the lifeboat station and the RNLI.

‘His achievements in Dunbar are the work of a man with a real passion for what he does in support of the RNLI's mission to save lives at sea. I am thrilled that he is being recognised with an BEM.’

Ken Headley said ‘It’s an honour – an unexpected honour – to receive this award. I couldn’t do it without my team of fantastic volunteers, so I’m accepting the award on their behalf. It’s a great recognition of all their hard work too.’ 


Dunbar Lifeboat Day 2015

This year our annual gala day will be held on Saturday 18th of July from 13:15 to 18:00. Bring along the kids for a fun family day out. Variety of stalls, Children's Rides, Build Your Own Raft Race, Live Music and Bar.

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