Its volunteers willingly risk their own lives to save others – for all the high-tech boats and equipment, and all the training, that risk remains real, such is the power of the sea.
So the Fairbairn family can be rightly proud of its involvement with the Dunbar lifeboat station, which stretches back over 100 years.
The latest recruit is Jodi Fairbairn, 17, who has joined her father Gary, the coxswain, and her brother Kieran, 20, on the boat, and recently experienced her first ‘shout’.
Her great-great-great grandfather, Walter Fairbairn, served as coxswain in the 1900s and was awarded a medal for bravery in 1905 after helping to save the lives of 40 people on a seagoing yacht.
Such courage, selflessness and altruism should be an inspiration in these cynical and troubled times, when politics and public discourse is blighted by dehumanising hatreds expressed by far too many towards those with different opinions, and when some politicians seek to whip up and exploit this discord.
The RNLI rescues anyone who is “in peril on the sea”, whether they be members of a ‘privileged elite’ on a superyacht or desperate asylum seekers in an overcrowded inflatable. They see us as we all truly are: equally valuable, equally precious, individual human beings.