This July, Sir Richard Branson took off from Spaceport America, flying nearly 50,000 feet above the southern desert of New Mexico. Four years ago this month, however, looked quite a bit different: He was hunkered deep down in a three-room cellar on his private island, riding out Hurricane Irma. The category-5 would decimate not only Necker Island — the 74-acre home he and his wife, Joan, have shared with guests and a host of wildlife for the last four decades — but also much of the British Virgin Islands’ 16 inhabited islands.
In the years since, the British entrepreneur has both helped the BVI at large with nonprofit work and advocacy while improving the long-term sustainability of Necker Island, where he spends the majority of his time, often accompanied by his children and grandchildren. The islandwide restoration was officially completed last year.