Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Winslet tells of island fire ordeal

Kate Winslet has spoken of her relief after escaping a fire on Necker Island

Kate Winslet has spoken of her relief after escaping a fire which devastated the luxury Caribbean home of Sir Richard Branson.

The British actress was among 20 people who fled The Great House on Necker Island as it was razed to the ground on Monday.

Winslet, whose two young children also escaped from the burning eight-bedroom property, told reporters: "I'm just so glad that everyone is safe. And this very easily could not have been the case."

Speaking for the first time since the incident she added: "I will never forget Richard placing his arms around both my children as we were there watching the flames, and saying 'At the end of the day, what you realise is that all that matters is the people you love. Everything else is just stuff. And none of that stuff really matters'."

The Titanic star helped carry Sir Richard's 90-year-old mother Eve from the burning property, which was struck by lightning during a tropical storm in the early hours.

Winslet, 35, who won an Oscar for her role in the 2008 movie The Reader, has a daughter Mia, 10, from her first marriage to Jim Threapleton, and a son, Joe, seven, by second husband, director Sam Mendes, from whom she is separated.

Both youngsters and a number of other guests, including the businessman's 29-year-old daughter Holly, all escaped from the fire unscathed.

The tycoon was staying in another property around 100 yards away with his wife, Joan, and son, Sam, 25.

Sir Richard, 61, bought Necker Island in the early 1980s and began building the eight-bedroom Great House in 1982.

His daughter Holly Branson and her shipbroker fiance Freddie Andrews were planning to get married on the island in December and despite the fire the businessman has insisted the event will still go ahead.

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