No stopping open water swimmers

A mystery woman who swam to Sir Richard Branson’s private island convinced him to call a Sydney community radio station pleading for his help. FBi Radio, the largest community radio broadcaster in Australia, has been running an “Ask Richard” campaign to hit up the jet-setting entrepreneur for $1 million in emergency funding.

Necker Island
Necker Island
Listeners have thrown themselves out of planes, held busking marathons and made video games to get the music-loving businessman to notice. But it was a “soaking wet” young woman on his Caribbean island who grabbed Sir Richard’s attention.

“The first I heard about (the campaign) was I was having an early evening dinner on Necker Island and this rather soaking wet Australian girl stumbled into the dinner room,” Sir Richard told FBi Radio.

A$k Richard website

“She’d swum two-and-a-half miles from another island to get to our island to tell us all about your campaign,” he said. “She had a great dinner and she stayed the night and I contacted my Australian office to find out what was going on.”

A spokesperson for FBi – which has helped launch the careers of many Aussie bands such as Wolfmother, The Presets, and The Vines – said they would like to know who the woman was.

During the live interview, presenter Alison Piotrowski asked Sir Richard for $1 million – or “only £490,000,” she said. Sir Richard politely declined.

“The difficulty that we have is that everybody, everyday likes to ask me for a million bucks or more or less,” he said. But he did give the station Virgin Atlantic and V Festival tickets to use as a prizes for listeners who became supporters. Sir Richard also gave FBi access to his senior Virgin management team to help consult on future fundraising and sponsorship opportunities.

“Congratulations to FBi Radio for running a truly inventive and original campaign,” Sir Richard said. “I’ve been amazed by the effort that (the) supporters have gone to and have had a great laugh at some of the very creative entries. Clearly FBi inspires great passion from its listeners and it’s worth saving.”

“FBi is chuffed that Sir Richard has responded to our Ask Richard campaign and pledged his support,” said the station’s director, Meagan Loader. “Our listeners have gone to great lengths to grab his attention and it’s a great credit to them and our station community to achieve this outcome.”

Just before he finished his live interview – conducted from the top of a mountain on Necker Island – Sir Richard also signed up as a supporter himself.