Pembroke: Passing a crash course

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The Independent Online
Good to see Richard Branson in such good spirits so soon after his escape from a nasty car accident the other week. The beaming entrepreneur was playing host at the 10th anniversary party of Virgin Atlantic.

The merriment continued well into the wee hours and boasted some typically Bransonesque touches. These included a room for the massage service that is available on some of the airline's long-haul flights.

But before the obligatory fly- past (a Virgin 747 circled the venue three times) Mr Branson even managed a humorous reference to his motorway mishap.

He remarked that he always liked to make sure things had been tested before offering them to customers - including courtesy cars. Days before the Branson family emerged unscathed from their crashed Range Rover, Virgin had signed an agreement to use the vehicles for ferrying upper-class passengers to London airports.

'They're built like tanks and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here today and neither would my family,' he says.

Mr Branson, who obtained his first Range Rover in part payment when he sold his boat, Virgin Atlantic II, hopes to take delivery of a new one any day.

Organisers of the Gay Lifestyle exhibition are celebrating the signing of the show's first non-gay sponsor, Fiat Motor Sales, a London car dealer. The dealership clearly has a sense of humour. It is taking a large stand at the show in December under the banner: 'How do you get excited about cruising?'

Barclays Bank has announced a top appointment down on the farm. John Page will don his best green wellies in September when he joins the bank as head of its agricultural services department.

Sadly the position does not involve running around the country checking the commercial viability of piglets. 'We do have 12 people who do that,' says a bank spokesman. But Mr Page is not one of them.

Boulton & Paul, the building services group, has targeted a new market - young offenders. Getting into the community spirit, it has donated one of its kitchens to the Feltham Young Offender Institution in west London.

B&P says it gave the kitchen as part of its sponsorship for a community-related training programme designed to provide prisoners with other skills. Perhaps Joe Clink will learn to rustle up a nice little souffle, then dash out and buy a Boulton & Paul kitchen upon release.

It's summer, so it must be time for softball in the City. Despite spirit-dampening memories of last year's competition (it pelted with rain), Cancer Research and Hill Samuel investment management have teamed up to stage the 1994 Softball Cup. The charity is looking for 12 teams keen to emulate last year's trophy-winning performance by the Lehman Demons.

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