We doubled our profits but Virgin shares started to slip and, for the first time in my life, I was depressed. Then there was a huge stock-market crash. Shares dropped fast. It wasn’t my fault, but I felt I was letting down all the people who had bought Virgin shares. Many were friends and family as well as our staff. But many were like the couple who had given me their life savings.
I made up my mind. I have always made fast decisions and acted on my instinct. I would buy all the shares back – at the price everyone had paid for them. I didn’t have to pay that much, but I didn’t want to let people down. I personally raised the £ 182 million needed, but it was worth my good name and my freedom.
The day that Virgin became a private company again was like landing safely after a record attempt in a powerboat or a balloon. I felt nothing but relief. Once again, I was the captain of my ship and master of my fate. I believe in myself. I believe in the hands that work, in the brains that think, and in the hearts that love.