Virgin Money UK completes its acquisition of Northern Rock... and announces its deal to sponsor Newcastle United Football Club for the next two seasons. The first banking store in Guildford opens, replacing the old Northern Rock branch, with plans in place to transform the entire network of Northern Rock branches to Virgin Money Stores.

Virgin America launches flight services to Palm Springs, Portland and Philadelphia. The company is also voted the world’s best airline in the prestigious Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards and declared ‘Best US Airline’ in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards for the fifth year in a row.

Virgin Atlantic’s brand new Clubhouse opens at JFK International Airport in typical Virgin style – with a big party! A new Clubhouse at Newark Liberty Airport follows.

Assura Medical, one of the fastest growing independent providers of NHS services in the UK, officially changes its name to Virgin Care.

The Virgin Racing team relinquish their Virgin branding to become the Marussia F1 Team.

Virgin Australia begin flying their rebranded aircraft to New Zealand, they open their first lounge on the Gold Coast and order 23 new fuel-efficient planes – the first ever in Australia.

Virgin Mobile makes it way to Chile and Poland.

Virgin Produced releases the first ever film shot and edited on board commercial flights: Departure Date - an airborne romance and is set on board Virgin flights from Los Angeles to London, Dallas, Fort Worth and Sydney, Australia.

Virgin Atlantic becomes the first British airline to provide passengers with a service to make and receive phone calls in the air at 35,000ft.

Virgin Pure launches with their range of counter-top purified water solutions.

Virgin Media launches the very first Wi-Fi network on the London Underground. BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones sends the first tweet: "Historic first tweet from deep under London using @TFLofficial @virginmedia new tube wifi service - testing, testing."

Virgin Books publishes Richard’s sixth book - Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School.

Richard attempts to beat the world record time for kitesurfing the English Channel. Technical problems mean that he has to abandon the kitesurf, but his son, Sam, steams on ahead to break the record himself – shaving 12 minutes off with a time of two hours and 18 minutes. Never one to give up, Richard jumps back in the water the following morning, managing to become the oldest person to achieve the feat.

Virgin Atlantic launches its inaugural flights to Vancouver and Cancun.

Virgin Galactic reveals its plans for LauncherOne, a revolutionary satellite launch vehicle, at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK, marking an historic moment for satellite research.

Virgin Mobile USA opens its first flagship retail store in Chicago.

The Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary with their long awaited return to the stage. The live shows mark the launch of a new venture in global touring, Virgin Live, which sees the coming together of Virgin with the Dainty Group.

The Department for Transport in the UK announces that following a bidding competition, Virgin Rail Group will not be operating the new Intercity West Coast franchise which is due to start on December 9th. Through the efforts of Virgin Trains and their supporters - including some celebrity fans – an epetition with 174,394 signatures is put to the government to reconsider the decision to award the franchise to FirstGroup. Court proceedings soon commence and on October 3rd the Secretary of State for Transport announces that the franchise competition has been cancelled due to major flaws in the bidding process. On December 6th it is announced that Virgin Trains will remain the West Coast Mainline operator for the next two years.

On December 11th, Virgin Atlantic announces that Delta Air Lines has purchased Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in the company - heralding a new joint venture and an era of expansion.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its 23rd glide flight, ensuring preparations for the world’s first commercial spaceline’s inaugural flight ended the year on a high.