A tribute to my granny, Eve Branson
It’s still difficult, a week on, to come to terms with the fact that Granny Eve has gone. As a family, I’m sure it will take a long time before the realisation actually sinks in. She was such a constant, ever-loving figure in all of our lives.
Granny was a tiny lady who - through her wit, warmth, intelligence, innate cheekiness and sense of fun - could command and charm any room or situation she found herself in. She exuded a joy and a thirst for life that was truly infectious. She also took no prisoners when it came to those she thought were not appreciating how marvellous it is to simply be alive!
I love this description of the family dynamic written by Joshua Levine in the Wall Street Journal back in April 2011: "In the Branson family government, Ted was the reassuring home secretary and Eve was a feisty minister of pluck.” So true!
As Granny grew older, well into her nineties, we found inspiration watching her grab life by the horns, march into every situation at full tilt, and drink new knowledge and information down daily - with as much pleasure as her beloved glass of whisky. I was exhausted so many times just watching her!
Granny Eve was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to us all in so many ways. I’d love to share a few of the things she taught me using her own amazing one liners and wonderful words…
My children weren’t allowed to be shy - that meant they were thinking of themselves. They had to be outward bound, not inward looking. – Eve Branson
My granny always believed you have a responsibility to put other people at ease, and never put your own discomfort in social settings above making others feel comfortable. Whether it be a gathering of family, friends or complete strangers – she always taught her children and grandchildren the importance of overcoming shyness (or timidity as she liked to call it!) and approach people with a smile, a word of encouragement, and a genuine curiosity about their lives. This isn't the easiest lesson to instil in your children! As parents, we often find ourselves saying: “Oh, they’re just being shy,” when really we would gain so much by being encouraged to overcome shyness and reach out to others. I hope Freddie and I are able to instil this confidence in our little ones as they go out into the world, and if they are ever having a shy moment, I’ll just let them know that they can take a little time out to warm up but should be right back in the mix of it soon.
“Don’t curb your children. Stand behind them no matter what and allow them to flourish.” – Eve Branson
Granny Eve and Granddad Ted attended almost every launch, inaugural event and every party that Dad threw! They were always there on the side lines with a smile, a quiet word of encouragement and the tacit offer of support, should it ever be needed. Their pride in Dad (and in Auntie Lindy and Auntie Vanessa) was obvious for all to see. They were loved by the Virgin Family, journalists and strangers alike. I believe this was in large part, from the way they encouraged their children to live their own dreams, pursue their own passions, and to know that they would always have their back if they slipped up.
“Never look back in regret – move on to the next thing.” – Eve Branson
Granny believed that success in life was as simple as: 'Never harm another person to get were you need to get.' If you could achieve that, you were a success in life. To Granny, the only thing to regret and rectify was if you hurt others - even unintentionally. Normal everyday setbacks (she hated the word failure) were simply things we can all learn from and apply to our next adventure!
“You’ll miss 100% of the times you don’t swing.” – Eve Branson
I can actually hear Granny Eve saying this, over and over again, to all of her 11 grandchildren as we were growing up! We were always encouraged to not allow fear or laziness to stop us from giving everything a go. It's such a wonderful saying and one I might get framed and put up in the kids’ bedrooms!
“The flaws you see in others are actually a reflection of yourself.” – Eve Branson
As kids, if Dad, Lindy or Vanessa came home and bad-mouthed school friends or teachers, they were sent to stand in front of a mirror and left to think about what their words about others said about themselves. A powerful and visual lesson in not judging others harshly.
“You are never too old to learn something new.” – Eve Branson
Granny’s thirst for knowledge was genuinely infectious. Every time we saw her, she would ask us: “Well, what new thing have you learned recently?” I’m glad to say we were normally able to share some new things – very much because she had instilled a love of knowledge (no matter the topic!) in the whole family. I especially love that she never stopped learning French! Even in her nineties she would head off to her daily french lessons, dictionary in hand.
“If you feel love, you’ll give love. If hate comes into your mind, get rid of it.” – Eve Branson.
What a wonderful motto to live by. This was, without doubt, one of the most valuable life lessons Granny taught us and we were honoured to watch her live it every day.
“Try to spend your days giving love and laughter to all around you and ask for little in return.” – Eve Branson
To me, this quote perfectly sums up my Granny Eve. Her laughter, I will never forget. Her mischievous sense of fun will forever bring a smile. Her love for us, for humanity and for life itself will always be an abiding comfort.
Yes, she asked for little in return - always believing you made your own happiness - but my word did she give all of us so much in return.
Thank you so much Granny, I feel very fortunate that as your family we carry so much of you in all of us, not only in our genes but also through the amazing lessons you have taught us about the wonderful adventure that is life.
Love you so much Granny.