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Exclusive: Sir Richard Branson on defying doctors' orders to take on 2000km Strive challenge

Julie Delahaye

Sir Richard Branson has revealed that although he "could have been killed" in his recent bike accident, the brave entrepreneur is now defying doctors' orders to take on the Virgin Strive Challenge with his children Holly and Sam, to raise money for Big Change. Speaking exclusively to HELLO! Online, Richard opened up about the moment he decided that he would go ahead with the expedition…

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Sir Richard Branson is taking on the Virgin Strive Challenge

"When the accident happened, if I'd hit my head in one place I could have been killed, if I'd hit it in another I could have broken my neck, and as it was, very fortunately, the shoulder and the knee injuries and the face injuries were not…  nothing was broken," he told HELLO! Online exclusively, as he enjoyed a rest day after hiking to Northern Italy from the base of the Matterhorn. "I was extremely fit at the time, so initially I thought I'd never be able to do Strive.

"After a few days I thought I'd give it a go, and obviously now, having done five days of very, very, very, very strenuous mountaineering, I know that my body is capable of doing the whole thing."

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The entrepreneur has defied doctors' orders to take part

Daughter Holly revealed she and Sam knew that if he could, their father would be joining them on the journey, even if he was still focusing on recovering from his injuries.

"He said he didn't break anything but he did fracture his cheek bone, he was properly hobbling around and quite suddenly in my eyes he was looking a bit frail," she told HELLO! Online. "But it's amazing how just two weeks later, or actually ten days later, he was starting the hike looking pretty much fit as a fiddle, having a bit of physio on his knee, but the actual doctors told him that he shouldn’t, the MRI was too bad and he shouldn't be going on it, but it's incredible how he's now here."

She added: "There's no way we would have said no, we've seen how much training he's put into it and we were training together. It's just brilliant that he's with us."

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Holly and Sam Branson are also taking part 

It's no easy feat – the gruelling trek will see Richard, Holly and Sam, along with hundreds of sports enthusiasts going on from the base of the Matterhorn to cycling the entire length of Italy, swimming to Sicily, mountain biking to the foothills of Mount Edna, and finally finishing with a trail run to the summit of the active volcano.

It was Sam and his cousin Noah Devereux who came up with the idea, in a bid to raise funds for Big Change. "Me and my cousin Noah got together and wanted to come up with a challenge that gave other people that sense of existential leaning, while also raising funds for Big Change to support young people around the UK making their own changes," he told HELLO! Online. "The challenge in itself was a metaphor for the metaphorical mountains and struggles that young people are facing on a daily basis."

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It was Sam and his cousin Noah who have designed the Strive challenge

There's no doubt that it's a family affair – even Richard's mother and his grandchildren will be in tow to greet the sportsmen as they cross the finish line.

"The last leg, I almost ran the whole way because Holly had gone ahead of us and had the grandchildren waiting," Richard explained, speaking of the moment he completed the hike. "So to go over the finish line and see your wife, your daughter and grandchildren - we had the most wonderful welcome. It was a tremendous last day."

 

 

He later added: "I mean, we're one of the closest families I know, we're very lucky in that way. For me as a grandfather, I'm incredibly privileged to be able to do this with my mother in tow and with my children, and with my wife and grandchildren in tow. I have to pinch myself, there aren't many people who get to spend a whole month with their family in this way, all the family."

For more information on the Virgin Strive Challenge head to bigchange.strivechallenge.com 

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