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Branson donates star prize to auction

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:07 22 October 2010

Britain's biggest tycoon paid tribute to his friend and Norfolk lifeboat stalwart by donating a star prize to an auction in her memory. Richard Branson personally gave a pair of luxury return airline tickets to the US to an auction raising money for the Gorleston lifeboat team.

One of Britain's biggest tycoon paid tribute to his friend and Norfolk lifeboat stalwart by donating a star prize to an auction in her memory.

Richard Branson personally gave a pair of luxury return airline tickets to the US to an auction raising money for the Gorleston lifeboat team.

It was held in memory of Peggy Bibby-Cheshire, the former president of the Ladies' Lifeboat Guild who worked tirelessly for the Gorleston crew for much of her life.

She died last October, aged 85, with the guild dedicating their auction to her memory.

More than 100 people bought tickets for the exclusive event, giving them a chance to bid for a variety of lots donated by Norfolk firms, including the EDP and Scira Offshore Energy.

But it was Sir Richard's lot that was the star turn.

Auction organiser Jan Burton said she wrote to the billionaire because of the friendship he had struck up with Mrs Bibby-Cheshire.

She said: "Peggy was awarded an MBE for services to the lifeboats in 2000 and when she collected it from Buckingham Palace Richard Branson was also there, collecting his honour.

"Afterwards he invited everyone back to his club in London and got chatting to Peggy who told him all about her charity work in Norfolk.

"They remained in touch afterwards and Peggy often mentioned him. When I was organising the auction I wrote to him and told him we were doing this in Peggy's memory. Then a while later I received a phone call.

"It was his personal assistant phoning from his private island. She said Richard was sat next to her and personally wanted to donate two return flights to America. I was delighted."

The tickets eventually went for £1,500. A day on a Norfolk wherry went for £1,000, as did an executive box for a Norwich City match, donated by Scira.

The auction raised in excess of £12,000 for the upkeep and general running of Gorleston RNLI station.


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