Thank Crew to Our Long Serving Volunteers!

Dunbar RNLI said thank you to several long serving volunteers past and present at a special presentation ceremony on Friday night (March 22) honouring outstanding service from lifeboat fundraisers, committee members, shop workers and crew. 

On a special night that brought Dunbar’s wider lifeboat family together, presentations were made to 25 volunteers who have contributed to the running and support of the town’s lifeboats over many years on behalf of Dunbar Lifeboat Management Group, the Lifeboat Fundraising Committee and the crew.

Dunbar’s lifeboat crew, fundraisers, shop and committee volunteers.  (Photo: Nick Mailer)

Dunbar’s lifeboat crew, fundraisers, shop and committee volunteers.

(Photo: Nick Mailer)

Mark Lees, Chairman of the Lifeboat Management Group, said the event – held at the town’s Royal British Legion – was about expressing appreciation to the remarkable service volunteers from all walks of life had made to the Dunbar community.

He said: “The crew might be the ones out there keeping people safe but they would not be able to do what they do without the support of everyone else.

“We all share a long history with the lifeboat station in Dunbar. What we have here is so very special. That’s what makes the town of Dunbar such an amazing place.”

Ken Headley, who manages the town’s two lifeboat shops, said the work of volunteers had helped make Dunbar’s High Street store number one in Scotland and among the top 20 performing shops in the UK.

“It is a great achievement by the volunteers in my crew,” he added.

Presenting awards on behalf of the Fundraising Committee, Chairwoman Veronica Davies said her volunteers continued to break records, with her team helping to raise over £45,000 last year, including a best ever Lifeboat Fete which raised £15,500 and Strictly for the Lifeboats weekend of dancing fun, which raised £9,000.

Veronica said: “Thank you to everyone on the Fundraising Committee for all your hard work. It’s been absolutely amazing.”

And paying tribute to the former crew members who received vellums for outstanding service, coxswain Gary Fairbairn said: “Being on the crew means we share some good times and some genuinely funny moments, as well as the bad times, which can sometimes be pretty horrific. It means you have to handle a lot. That’s why it’s good to be able to present awards to people for their service on the crew.”

Receiving awards for voluntary service to the shop were:

Pam Denholm (13 years)

Margaret Headley (11 years)

Sue Barnott (10 years)

Pat Wilson (9 years)

Shona McManus (9 years)

Agnes Wilson (7 years)

Margaret Brown (7 years)

Awards also went to seven people who were unable to attend:

Maureen Watt (15 years)

Pat Bower (13 years)

Jean Rae (11 years)

Sally Drysdale (8 years)

Linda Baines (6 years)

Liz Brown (6 years)

Wendy Badger (5 years)


Receiving awards for voluntary service to the Fundraising Committee were:

Moira Porter (22 years)

Sheon Cairns (21 years)

Fiona Fleming (19 years)

Ken Headley (12 years)

Martha Windram (9 years)

Pat Wilson (6 years)

Katy Pollock (4 years)

An award also went to Elizabeth Hutton (7 years) who was unable to attend.


Receiving vellums for voluntary service to the crew were:

Douglas Gillan (17 years, 22 lives saved)

Andrew Middlemiss (14 years, 12 lives saved)

Mike Shaw (22 years as shore crew)

Dayna Dryer (12 years, 12 lives saved). As Dayna was unable to attend, her award was collected by her grandmother Martha Windram.

Special awards from the RNLI for outstanding service to the Fundraising Committee also went to Martha Windram and Fiona Fleming.

(Photos: Nick Mailer)

Becs is the new face of Helly Hansen


Our very own Rebecca “Becs” Miller has been selected to represent the RNLI in a new promotional campaign to showcase the charity's partnership with Helly Hansen, the supplier of our new all-weather lifeboat kit.

Becs - ably assisted by some of our other volunteer crew members - features in a stunning new video that not only highlights the type of work we do, but also shows off the Dunbar coastline in all its rugged splendour.


Becs, who's been on the crew for nearly five years after volunteering in the shop and also plays an important role as a Youth Education Volunteer, said: "Being selected to represent the RNLI was a huge honour for me. Volunteering is amazing and I love being part of the crew, knowing the trust we have when it’s needed. The filming was full on, especially swimming in the North Sea! Seeing the final cut was brilliant - it shows our beautiful town at its best.

"And it's great to know, thanks to Helly Hansen, we are kept safe when we go out to help others.

"I’d also like to thank all our supporters, without you we couldn’t continue saving lives."

To see Becs in action and read more about the work our volunteers do please click on the link...

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.

Our greatest supporters

As a way of saying thank you to some of the crew's greatest supporters, we invited them down to the station for the afternoon.  These supporters are those that put up with us going out of an evening for a couple of hours training instead of helping put the kids to bed. They put up with mum or dad disappearing at a moment's notice when their pagers sound, without knowing if they'll be back in an hour or back much, much later. We get all the credit but without them supporting us, we couldn't do what we do.

So at lunchtime today, some of the crew brought the All Weather boat up from it's mooring at Torness into the harbour.  After showing the kids (and big kids!) around the boat, letting them sit up at the controls and pretend to be lifeboat crew for the day, it was all back to the station for cakes, colouring and training for our future crew.

A huge thank you to the crew who organised today and brought the boat up, from all the families and friends.

Dunbar Lifeboat goes to the aid of sinking fishing boat

Dunbar lifeboat is tonight helping a fishing boat that was in danger of sinking a mile North of the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.

The boat, from Pittenweem in Fife, put out a mayday distress call at 20.42 tonight telling coastguards they were taking on water and their engine had stopped.

The trawler's leak has now been stemmed and Dunbar has been joined by North Berwick ILB and the Anstruther boat in pumping it out.

If the boat cannot restart its engine it will be towed to Pittenweem. 

Rough Weather for Dunbar's Passage Crew

Spare a thought for the crew of Dunbar Lifeboat who are the first leg of Lifeboat 14-35’s journey to its refit In Ireland. Crew member’s Gary Fairbairn, Mark Anderson, Alistair Punton, Iain McDougal, Alan Blair, Stuart Pirie and Gaz Crowe left Dunbar at 5am yesterday.

The crew are currently rounding the corner from Fair Isle off the North coast of Scotland into the Hebrides after a stopover at Fraserburgh last night.

The weather conditions are less than ideal though, with the latest forecast issued by the met office this morning predicting severe gale 9 with a predicted wave height up to 9 meters.

The next stop for the crew is Portree where they will spend another night before heading on to Oban. The weather conditions in this area however are worse still, with a Storm 10 expected in the next 12 hours.

Certainly sounds like its turning into an interesting trip for our guys.

Once reaching Oban the crew will be headed home before another crew departs Dunbar to take the boat the rest of the way to Ireland.

Dunbar Lifeboat goes to the aid of stricken crewman

Dunbar’s RNLI lifeboat went to the aid of one of its own crew volunteers who had become unwell at sea on his fishing boat.

30 year old Kevin Keillor raised the alarm on Thursday evening as he succumbed to extreme chest pains that left him unable to skipper his boat.

Dunbar’s RNLI coxswain Gary Fairbairn said: “Kevin raised the alarm while on a lone passage between Eyemouth and Dunbar – he had tried resting for an hour but found himself unable to continue.

“By the time we reached him he was in serious pain and hyperventilating. We got him on board the lifeboat and treated him with painkillers and took him back to our berth at Torness where medics were waiting for him. It may be a little time before he’s well enough to go back to sea.”

Yesterday (Sunday) the lifeboat was involved in an operation to try and save a 52 year old diver who had got into difficulties in 47 metres of water 25 miles North East of Torness.

Coxswain Fairbairn said: “We were responding to a mayday from the Eyemouth dive boat Jacob George. One of a party of seven divers exploring the wreck of a German U Boat had lost his air supply on the seabed. His dive buddy send him up to the surface but he was unconscious.

“We were about an hour away and as we were about three miles from the casualty a rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer arrived on scene and winched the diver a board and rushed him to Ninewellls Hospital in Dundee but very sadly he was dead.”

The Dunbar lifeboat took the dead man’s dive buddy back to Eyemouth suffering from shock where he was examined by medics.