Richard Branson vows to rebuild blaze villa for daughter's wedding
Sir Richard Branson has insisted that his daughter would 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 shipbroker Freddie Andrewes in December but it is not certain if 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 yesterday after it was struck by lightning during a tropical storm.
Friends of Sir Richard say that his nephew Jake woke at around 4am to hear loud bangs, caused by gas canisters exploding.
"It was terrifying for me because my daughter and nephews, nieces, friends were all in the house," said Sir Richard. "So I just ran towards the house to try to make sure I could get people out.
"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 when 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 tycoon said his family had been "truly moved" by the messages they had received from around the world.
"The support from the public has been incredible," he 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 yesterday morning, he said, adding that his family sat up all night talking about what could be built in its place.