'John would have been so proud' - Sunderland community's praise as Irene Hays made Dame in New Year's Honours

Customers, colleagues and friends have joined together to congratulate businesswoman Irene Lucas-Hays on receiving a top accolade in the New Year’s Honours.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 12:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st December 2020, 12:16 pm

Irene, who co-owns Sunderland-based firm Hays Travel, was listed on the roll as being made a Dame for ‘Services to Training, to Education and to Young People’.

And as the honours list was announced late on Wednesday, December 30, the Sunderland community rallied around with messages of love and support for Dame Irene, whose husband John – founder of Hay’s Travel – passed away suddenly in November.

In a host of touching comments on the Sunderland Echo Facebook page, both staff and customers spoke of their pride in Hays Travel’s work, paying tribute to the incredibly hard work of both Irene, 66, and John, who was 71, throughout their careers.

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John Hays and wife Irene outside the Hays Travel headquarters in Keel Square, Sunderland. Picture: North News.

Here are some of your messages from the Sunderland Echo Facebook page:

Julie Terris: “Very well deserved and so sad that John isn't here to see it but he would have been extremely proud.”

Vicky Cullen: “Well deserved. Well done Irene. John would have been so proud, as he was of his job and staff.”

Tracey Luke: “Very fitting! An amazing lady. John would have been so very proud of you, I know for sure all your Hays Travel family certainly are! Congratulations Irene.”

Jen Linford: “Recognition for your wonderful commitment to young people, Hays Travel and Sunderland - well deserved. John would be immensely proud.”

Susan Wolfe: “Congratulations. You both deserved to be remembered for your achievements. He would have been so proud, as so should you be. Enjoy it for your legacy.”

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Margaret McLaren: “Well done Irene. There should be more people in the world like you and John. So sad John can't share this.”

Leila Dawson: “Well deserved - never forget success is measured by the number of people helped along the way, not the accolades or money in the bank, congratulations.”

Diane Cooper: “Your husband John would be so proud, Sunderland loves you, bless you Irene.”

Sandra Johnson: “Well deserved. A great couple who tried their very best for their staff and others.”

Val Mayo: “I am just a loyal customer who would like to say congratulations. I know how you will be feeling. He will be with you all the way.”

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