Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Branson wedding is on despite fire

Sir Richard Branson says his daughter will still be able to get married on his luxury Caribbean island, despite the fire that destroyed his home there
Kate Winslet and her children escaped unhurt as a fire ripped through Sir Richard Branson's luxury home in the Caribbean
Lightning is believed to be behind a fire at Sir Richard's Branson's Caribbean home on the island of Necker

Sir Richard Branson has insisted that his daughter will still be able to get married on his luxury Caribbean island, despite the fire that destroyed his home there.

Holly Branson, 29, is due to wed her fiance, shipbroker Freddie Andrewes, in December but it is not certain whether The Great House on Necker Island will be rebuilt in time.

The eight-bedroom property was burnt down when a blaze broke out in the early hours of Monday after it was struck by lightning during a tropical storm.

Sir Richard said: "We have a wedding to celebrate in December and I can't imagine giving my daughter's hand in marriage to the very lucky man who is her fiance, Freddie Andrewes, anywhere other than on Necker Island beach.

"(My wife) Joan and I were married here and we want nothing more than our daughter Holly to get married on our beautiful island. We would love to get the house rebuilt in time but we know there is so much work to be done.

"But we will start as soon as possible and it's safe to do so. Simply put we suspect that there may be slightly more tents for the wedding guests on the beach now but Holly and Freddie's wedding will definitely still happen here."

"The support from the public has been incredible," Sir Richard said. "We are so blessed that no one died or was seriously injured and we are counting those blessings together as a family."

Smoke was still rising from the ashes of the house on Tuesday morning, he said, adding that his family sat up all night talking about what they could build in its place, amid tears about what they had lost.

Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet helped rescue Sir Richard's 90-year-old mother, Eve, from the flames. The Titanic star helped carry her from The Great House and both managed to escape unhurt, along with Winslet's young children and a number of other guests, including Holly.

Sir Richard also revealed he had sustained some injuries on the night of the fire after jumping out of bed naked, rushing to the Great House in the dark and running straight into a cactus bush. "The sympathy was not forthcoming for my injuries," he joked.

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