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Virgin Atlantic To Transport Ashes To Australia For Next Test Series



Thursday 8 September 2005: Virgin Atlantic today welcomed the MCC announcement that it will be transporting the Ashes Urn to Australia so that it can be exhibited during the next Test series between England and Australia in 2006-2007.

The tiny, delicate and irreplaceable urn has been displayed in Australia on only one previous occasion in 1988.

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented:
"Everyone at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Blue is hugely excited and proud to be given the honour of carrying the most precious urn in cricket to Australia.

"The Ashes urn will be given the full award winning Virgin Atlantic Upper Class service on its way to Sydney including complementary limos to and from the airport, our famous in-flight entertainment and we'll even ask our beauty therapists to give it a rub down and polish! Virgin Blue will take over when it lands in Sydney and lavish its trademark high service standards on the urn as it travels to all the other Ashes test venues across Australia.

"With interest in the Ashes series at an all time high, I'm particularly pleased that with Virgin's help millions of cricket-mad Australians (and are there any other sort of Aussies?) will be able to see this world famous artefact for the first time!

"I'm also delighted to say that the Ashes will "urn" frequent flyer miles.”

Roger Knight, MCC’s Secretary & Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to re-arrange the urn's visit to Australia.”

“With its expertise in both international and Australian air travel, the Virgin Group is the perfect partner for MCC.”

“The two organisations can now start to plan the urn's eagerly-awaited exhibition in Australia - where it will, I am sure, be seen and enjoyed by countless cricket fans."

The combined expertise and resources of MCC and Virgin will ensure that the tour is organised to the highest possible standards. For example: the urn will be taken to Australia by Virgin Atlantic; its flights within Australia will be the responsibility of Virgin Blue; and all the exhibition arrangements will be planned and then supervised by MCC's Curator (Adam Chadwick), Archivist & Historian (Glenys Williams) and experts on MCC's Arts & Library committee.

Notes to Editors

The term "Ashes" was first used after England lost to Australia, for the first time on home soil, at The Oval on 29th August 1882. A day later, The Sporting Times carried a mock obituary to English cricket which concluded: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

The Ashes urn was subsequently presented to the Hon Ivo Bligh (later Lord Darnley), who captained the next English team to tour Australia.

He subsequently took the urn back to England, where it was kept at his family home (Cobham Hall, in Kent).

On his death (in 1927), his widow bequeathed the urn to MCC – which has looked afte