Bid boosted by £21,000 donation

John Hays with Rebecca Ball.

John Hays with Rebecca Ball.

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A Wearside travel firm has got the City of Culture 2021 bid off to a flying start.

Hays Travel, which has its headquarters in Vine Place, has donated £21,000 to the bid to bring the coveted title to Sunderland.

Managing director John Hays, a Freeman of the City, said backing the bid was important to the company, which employs more than 1,000 people and has a turnover in excess of £800million.

“We’re proud to be a Sunderland company employing so many Wearsiders and we’re excited by the possibilities a successful bid would bring to the city,” he said.

John added: “I believe a successful bid would be hugely beneficial to the city in terms of confidence, how we’re seen from the outside and of course investment. But the benefits of Sunderland winning the title would be felt around the North East – it is a regional bid.

“The title would certainly help spread the word about Sunderland around the world.”

Earlier this year more than 50 businesses of the Sunderland Business Partnership unanimously backed the bid and more than £500,000 towards a £1million funding target has already been raised.

It’s estimated that a successful City of Culture bid would attract between £60million and £80million into the local economy.

Bid director Rebecca Ball said: “We’re very grateful to John Hays and Hays Travel for their amazing generosity.

“Their donation of £21,000 will go towards establishing Team 21, a team of young people from across the city who we want to act as advisors and champions for the bid.”