Hays Travel staff hailed as Sunderland firm wins a brace of prestigious awards

The chair of a flourishing Sunderland company has paid an emotional tribute to the Wearside area after Hays Travel won two major awards.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:37 pm
John and Irene Hays receive the Overall Business of the Year Award from Sunderland City Council Leader Coun. Graham Miller (right).

There was not a dry eye at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards as Irene Hays gave an inspiring speech to the packed Stadium of Light audience.

Hays Travel won both the Large Business of the Year and the Overall Business of the Year titles in recognition for its incredible year of growth in which Hays re-opened scores of former Thomas Cook shops and saved nearly 2,000 jobs of Thomas Cook workers.

As they collected the Overall Business of the Year title, Irene and husband John, the owner of the company, received a standing ovation before Irene gave her speech.

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She said: “We have received messages from all over the country and had more than 2,200 cards and letters from people we have never heard of.”

But Irene became tearful as she described how an award in the town where it all started had meant so much.

“To be recognised like this in our home town,” said Irene, “In our town where we have grown the business”: But before she could finish the sentence, there were cheers from the hundreds of people packed into the room.

Outside the ceremony, John told the Sunderland Echo that the company’s success could not have been possible without the fantastic staff who work for Hays Travel.

Watch out for more stories – from a night when the best of Wearside industry shone brightly – in a Sunderland Echo supplement next Wednesday.