Kieran Fairbairn is Scotland's youngest RNLI crewmember and will serve on Dunbar station’s two lifeboats – the all-weather and the D-class inshore


Schoolboy Kieran Fairbairn has joined the Scottish RNLI at just 17 – the minimum age required to join the charity – and received his first pager just a month after his birthday.

Kieran has followed in the footsteps of his father Gary, who is Dunbar Lifeboat coxswain and has volunteered for the RNLI for 23 years. Both his dad and great-great-great grandfather were awarded medals for bravery after daring rescues at sea.

Gary was awarded a 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. In 1905, Walter Fairbairn received a 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.

The Fairbairn family has been honoured for the bravery at sea with a street named after them in Dunbar.

Kieran will serve on Dunbar station’s two lifeboats – the all-weather and the D-class inshore.

The 17-year-old, who attends Dunbar Grammar School, is now on call should there be an emergency, and he will have to respond even if the call is during school hours.

The teenager 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.”

Gary Fairbairn was surprised that his son wanted to join the RNLI. “It came as a shock to me, to be honest, when he asked to join.”, he said.

“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 will inspire other youngsters to join. “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.”

Soon one young volunteer could be another member of the Fairbairn family.

“My daughter Jodi, who’s 14 just now, is also desperate to join!”, said Gary.