“Don’t mourn my mother’s death. Let’s celebrate her wonderful life,” says Richard Branson after his mother died of COVID-19

Billionaire businessman, Richard Branson, said rather than mourn the loss of his mother, Eve, who died recently after contracting coronavirus, he wanted to “celebrate her wonderful life, tremendous spirit, the joy she brought to so many, and the love she gave us all.”

Eve Branson died at the age of 96 after contracting COVID-19. 70-year-old Branson said his mother had managed to “fight off the virus but had expended all of her energy in the process.”

Richard and his mum, Eve Branson

Announcing her death in a heartfelt post to his 12.5 million social media followers, Branson said, “As for so many of us in these days of COVID, it feels so strange that the person who has always been there for us, with such zest for life, is gone.”

Eve Branson, a grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of 10, established the Eve Branson Foundation, a small non-profit based in Morocco, aimed at providing young people with craft skills training.

Following her death, the foundation said in a statement: “We are very sad to share that our beloved founder, Eve Branson, has passed away. Eve inspired and supported Atlas Mountain communities, right to the end of her life.”

In 2014, during an interview with The Guardian, Eve Branson confirmed that the family were “very, very poor when Richard was a child.”

“We had to try and make money every way we could. It doesn’t do you any harm to know what it’s like to struggle,” she said.

Mr Branson who broke the news of his mum’s death to fans on Twitter, also described how his “inventive” and “fearless” mother started off his career by giving him the money she earned from selling a necklace.

“One day in the late sixties, mum saw a necklace lying on the road near Shamley Green and took it to the police station,” he said.

“After three months, nobody had claimed it so the police told her she could keep it. She came up to London, sold the necklace, and gave me the money.

“Without that £100, I could never have started Virgin.”

The entrepreneur went on to found the Virgin Group and last year was estimated to have a net worth of $4.4bn (£3.3bn).