A crowdfunding campaign to buy a new hovercraft for the RNLI nicknamed ‘The Flying Farage’ is approaching £30,000.
Simon Harris started the campaign, saying he believed it to be “incredibly appropriate” to buy such a vessel given that the former UKIPer was taking “such an active interest in the RNLI’s activities right now”.
He added that, if successful, he might even buy a second vessel and call it ‘The Galloping Grimes’ or ‘The Hovering Hopkins’.
At the time of writing donations had surged to £27,875 and showed no sign of slowing down.
It comes as donations to the lifesaving charity rocketed over the past week after its chief executive this week described its role in rescuing people crossing the English Channel as “humanitarian work”.
Figures show online donations to the RNLI passed the £200,000 mark in 24 hours, up from around £7,000 on a typical day.
There was also a near four-fold increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on the sea charity’s website during the same period.
Nigel Farage – the former UKIP leader – had criticised the charity, claiming it was being used as a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs”.
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.”
The RNLI said it faced criticism for rescuing migrants in the Channel in the last five years, but particularly in recent weeks, with a London-based crew having to call the police after receiving abuse at the weekend.
The head of the RNLI, Mark Dowie, insisted 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 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.”