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‘Force of nature’: Richard Branson’s mother dies of COVID-19

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: Virgin)
(Source: Virgin)

Virgin founder and British business Richard Branson’s mother has died of the coronavirus at the age of 96.

Branson broke the news in a blog post on Monday celebrating his mother Evette Huntley Branson’s “wonderful life”.

“I’m sorry to share that, sadly like a lot of people’s relatives and friends right now, my mum Eve has also passed away from Covid,” he wrote.

“She held on for one last victory, managing to fight off the virus, but had expended all of her energy in the process.”

His sister Vanessa and nephew Louis were by Eve’s side “until the end”, he added, as well as nurses whom Eve had entertained with personal anecdotes over glasses of whisky.

“Rather than mourn her loss, I want to celebrate her wonderful life, her tremendous spirit, the joy she brought to so many, and the love she gave us all.”

Branson wrote that Eve retained the same youthful energy as when he was a boy.

The businessman also credited her and his father with teaching him “values that have lasted a lifetime”, such as the value of hard work, entrepreneurship, treating others with respect, and not taking oneself too seriously.

Branson’s father, Edward James Branson, a barrister, passed away in 2011. Branson also paid tribute to his late father as “hugely instrumental in shaping [him]” in a blog post from July last year.

“They showed us how family is the most important thing in the world, and surrounded us with love and encouragement.”

Branson described his mother as a “force of nature” who “lived many remarkable lives”, from enlisting in the women’s branch of the Royal Navy in World War II, touring Germany as a ballet dancer, and working as a flight attendant.

“When I was growing up she was always working on a project; she was inventive, fearless, relentless - an entrepreneur before the word existed,” he said.

Branson said he owed his career to his mother, recalling a day in the late 1960s when his mother saw a necklace lying on the road and took it to the police station.

When no one had claimed it after three months, police told Eve she could keep it.

“She came up to London, sold the necklace and gave me the money.

“Without that £100, I could never have started Virgin. We were so sad to lose dad back in 2011, but mum did exactly as he would have wished by continuing to grab life with both hands.”

Richard Branson and his mother Eve. (Source: Virgin)
Richard Branson and his mother Eve. (Source: Virgin)

Branson launched Virgin Atlantic in 1984 using money from his previous business, Virgin Records, which signed on bands controversial at the time such as the Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones.

Virgin Group now controls over 400 businesses in various industries around the world.

Eve’s schedule was busier than Branson’s, he joked: his mother spent her latter days organising charity events, firing the pistol for the Virgin Strive Challenge and looking after her grand- and great-grandchildren.

Branson also praised his mother for founding the Eve Branson Foundation, which teaches skills to young people in Morocco to preserve traditional crafts-making skills and improve local communities.

The 70-year-old businessman also paid tribute to his mother as a “delightful writer” who “often sent little notes to us, and composed mischievous, heartfelt poems”.

The news of Eve’s death comes amid the rapidly worsening pandemic in the UK.

Deaths from COVID-19 have hit record highs in Britain, with more than 3 million people testing positive for the deadly virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

A new, more highly transmissible strain of the virus has emerged in the UK, with some parts of London seeing 1 in 20 people infected.

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