The RNLI have seen donations go through the roof after being abused for saving the lives of migrants crossing the English Channel in hope of reaching the UK.

The charity has received £200,000 in donations within 24 hours after the organisation’s chief executive, Mark Dowie, defended volunteers for helping people at risk.

Usual daily contributions amount to £7,000 meaning the spike is more than 28 times larger than average.

There was also a near four-fold increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on the sea charity’s website during the same period.

Jayne George, RNLI fundraising director, said: “We are overwhelmed with the huge level of support we have received from our amazing supporters in the last couple of days.

“We have seen an uplift in donations, with over £200,000 being donated yesterday alone through a combination of one-off donations, new regular support and supporters increasing their regular donation amount.

“This is simply incredible.”

It comes after the charity’s chief executive Mark Dowie described the migrant crisis as a “polarising issue” but defended crews who carry out “humanitarian work of the highest oerder”.

Mark Dowie, RNLI chief executive, said he felt compelled to comment after volunteers reported being heckled for bringing migrants to safety.

Mr Dowie said the sea charity was “doing the right thing” by going to people’s aid, regardless of their reason for being in the water.

He said: “The people of these islands (the UK) fundamentally are decent people, and all decent people will see this as humanitarian work of the highest order.

“Our crews should not have to put up with some of the abuse they received.”

Crews also described being on the receiving end of an “angry mob” after coming back from a rescue, with members of the public shouting at the migrants to go “back to France”.

Responding to the spike in donations since Mr Dowie’s intervention, Ms George said: “This was never a fundraising campaign – we simply wanted to tell the story of our crews and make it clear that our charity exists to save lives at sea.

“Our mission is to save every one.

“Our supporters’ kindness means so much to us, without them we could not save lives at sea, every one is a lifesaver.”

She also signalled that Mr Dowie’s comments also had a negative impact on some donors.

She said: “We know that this is a polarising issue and people have strong opinions on the subject.

“Sadly, a small number of supporters have contacted us to withdraw their support.”