Billionaire Sir Richard Branson is rarely out of the public eye.
Today, as he announces he is donating £5,000 to help restore the Hayling Ferry link, here are nine facts about the tycoon.
1. ‘Virgin’ symbolises Branson’s first steps in business: Now an umbrella term for all of his modern-day ventures, Branson settled on the Virgin trademark title because of his initial lack of first-hand business experience.
2. He started out in London: Having opened his own record store in Oxford Street in 1971, Branson went on to co-create the Virgin Records label just a year later.
3. Tubular Bells was the label’s first release: Multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield’s progressive-rock album was the label’s first release in 1973. Perhaps it was this record’s acclaim that encouraged artists such as Genesis and Roy Orbison to jump on-board the label.
4. He lives on a remote island: Aptly perhaps, the British Virgin Islands in the Carribbean, is the location for Sir Richard’s 74-acre tropical ‘Necker Island’ resort. Uninhabited at the time, he purchased the entire island for $180,000 aged just 28.
5. Sir Richard is a TV star: Usually playing himself, he has appeared in Friends, Baywatch, Birds of a Feather, Only Fools and Horses and The Day Today to name but a few.
6. He’s currently worth $5.3bn: According to Forbes, the high-school-dropout is worth a whopping $5.3bn, pitching him amongst the UK’s richest people, and the world’s top 300 in 2016.
7. His first venture was a magazine: After dropping out of high school, he created a magazine called ‘Student’ at the age of 16. It aimed to give young people a voice and challenge perceptions of youth culture.
8. Nelson Mandela is one of his greatest inspirations: A personal friend of the late freedom fighter, Sir Richard often mentions Mandela’s autobiography ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’, having once labelled the anti-apartheid revolutionary as ‘one of the most inspiring men I have ever met’.
9. He advocates the decriminalisation of drugs: Praising the results of more relaxed drug policies adopted by some global governments, including that of Portugal, Branson believes that the decriminalisation of drug usage would aid the well-being of those who refuse to access healthcare services in fear of arrest or punishment.