Branson boat lies rotting

A RESCUE boat presented by Richard Branson is lying rotting several years later because of a dispute over who should maintain and operate it.

A grateful Mr Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, gave the pounds 25,000 boat to the people of Rathlin Island, off the Northern Ireland coast. He was rescued from his hot-air balloon a few miles off the coast when it ditched after his transatlantic crossing in 1988.

However, the boat has been left on a slip-way because neither the coastguard nor islanders have accepted responsibility for insuring and maintaining it. It has now been suggested the vessel be sold to pay for something that would benefit the whole community, such as a scanner for Coleraine Hospital, Co Londonderry.