Meet Evette Huntley Branson, mother of Richard, Lindy, and Vanessa and wife of the late Major Edward “Ted” Branson. As a young woman raised in the English countryside and trained in classical ballet, Eve longed for excitement and adventure. Barely 20, she disguised herself as a boy and took glider lessons, enlisted in the WRENS (Women’s Royal Navy Service) to help the war effort, and danced in racy West End Theatre productions. At 24, she donned a red ‘Star Girl’ uniform and embarked on a series of harrowing adventures as an air hostess on the ill-fated British South American Airways. But within a few months, two of the airline’s fleet—bombers and military transport planes retired from recent combat—disappeared in the Caribbean. That was too close a call for her suitor, the handsome Cavalry officer Ted Branson, whose proposal lured Eve from the skies to safety and a marriage that would last 62 years.
As a young wife, Eve devoted most of her energy to raising three children but still found time to start several businesses, serve as a probation officer and JP, and volunteer her time to charity organizations. Over the years, she and Ted travelled the world to follow their son Richard’s highly publicized attempts to break world records in ballooning, sailing, and the like. They also followed their daughters’ exciting arts and business careers and delighted in the exploits of their 11 grandchildren.
In 2005, Eve founded the Eve Branson Foundation, a charity that provides income-producing projects for girls in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In 2008, at 84, she became the first mother in history with a private space travel namesake, the Virgin Mother Ship – VMS EVE – that will launch the first Virgin Galactic astronauts to the edge of space. A prolific writer, Eve has published many travel articles and has written three novels and several children’s books including Sarky Puddleboat (AuthorHouse 2010).