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.’ 

Source: http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Dunbar-ma...