Winslet helped rescue Branson's mother from fire
LONDON (AP) — Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet helped rescue Richard Branson's elderly mother from a fire that destroyed his Caribbean home.
The Virgin Group boss said in his blog that he wanted to offer "many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90 year (old) mum out of the main house to safety." He joked that Winslet "was wondering when a director was going to shout 'CUT!'
In a separate statement Tuesday, Branson praised Winslet's two children, 10-year-old Mia and 7-year-old Joe, who were also staying in the house when it caught fire. He called them "two of the bravest kids I've ever come across."
Branson said he was staying in another property around 100 yards (meters) away with his wife, Joan and son Sam, 25. He said Sam noticed the main house in flames and ran over to make sure all the guests had got out. Branson said he also jumped out of bed and ran over to help.
"I tried to get some sympathy for the fact that I'd jumped out of bed naked and rushed to the Great House in pitch darkness and hurricane force winds and ran straight in to a cactus bush," Branson said. "The sympathy was not forthcoming for my injuries."
Branson said the fire broke out around 4 a.m. Monday during a tropical storm with lightning and high winds. He said Tuesday that there is still smoke rising from the house.
Branson, 60, bought the island in the early 1980s and began building the Great House in 1982. He also has developed an exclusive eco-resort on the island showcasing renewable energy technology.
His daughter Holly, who was staying at the house along with Winslet, was due to get married there in December. Branson said the wedding would still take place on Necker Island, and said guests may camp on the beach if the house is not rebuilt in time.
Winslet, 35, shot to international stardom with her appearance opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in James Cameron's "Titanic," and sealed her reputation with a best actress Academy Award in 2009 for "The Reader."
Winslet's spokeswoman, Sara Keene, confirmed the actress was on the island and was unharmed. She said Winslet had no comment.
Her two children are from marriages to directors Jim Threapleton and Sam Mendes.