"It may sound strange for me to say that, but we had an hour [during the fire] when we weren't sure if everyone had got out alive, so the enormous relief we felt when we realised everybody was fine... ," Sir Richard Branson told HELLO!. "Later that morning, while the fire was still burning, we got out a big sheet of paper and started planning the rebuild. That's the best way to cope with situations like this – to be positive and plan for the future."
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Tycoon Sir Richard was spoke exclusively to HELLO! as he posed for photographs in the Great House on Necker Island alongside his wife Lady Branson, their children Holly and Sam and their respective spouses Freddie Andrewes and Isabella Calthorpe. The Virgin founder told the magazine that the only way to recover from losing the original house was to immediately start building another.
Holly told the magazine that the new building managed to capture the essence of the original.
"Initially, when we first started making plans, Sam and I were pernickity about the details, getting our notebooks out," she explained. "But what's amazing is that as soon as we walked in we were like, 'Wow – it has the same feeling.' It’s got the same vibe as the old place."
During the interview, Sir Richard also spoke about why he has made the Virgin Islands paradise his main residence. "I bought the island when I was 27 and have tried to come here every spare minute ever since," he said. "I have my office here and it's easy to attract people to come from all over the world, to plot and plan things. When I'm not working I can spend a day kiting, playing tennis, keeping fit, and now I’m in my mid-60s I feel I've reached an age where [those sort of activities] are essential."
See the full exclusive article in HELLO! magazine, issue 1304, out now.