The people of Sunderland love John Hays from Hays Travel so much they’re trying to give him Freedom of the City...twice

Sunderland locals have rallied behind John Hays and have called for him to be given the Freedom of the City, not realising he already has the award.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 12:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 2:19 am
Hays Travel has bought former Thomas Cook stores and gives jobs to more than one hundred former staff members.

A Facebook group has been set up titled, “let's get Hays travel owners freedom of the city,” and dozens of people have signed up after the firm took over Thomas Cook stores following the travel company’s collapse.

However John Hays has already been granted the Freedom of the City of Sunderland.

In 2016 the Travel Company boss was given the accolade and shortly after, he gave every staff member a £100 bonus for each year of service with the company.

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John and Irene Hays have been hailed as heroes of the high street after they stepped in following the collapse of Thomas Cook saving hundreds of jobs.

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The independent travel agent has always been based in Sunderland and the head office recently moved into new headquarters on Keel Square.

David Wilson, 46 from Sunderland has set up a Facebook group in order to get the council to reward the Hays Travel owners with Freedom of the City.

David said: “I thought wow, a local guy with a local business is helping all these people who are about to lose their homes. What an incredible act of kindness.”

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John, a graduate of Oxford University where he earned a Degree in mathematics and later a Master's Degree in Business Administration has been recognised several times over the last decade for his achievements.

He has also been the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award, and an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Globe Travel Awards and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Sunderland University.

David who is currently waiting on a refund from Thomas Cook of more than £300, after the collapse of the company, added: “I just want people to get on board and recognise what John and Irene have done at Hays Travel. I want the council to recognise it – they deserve the Freedom of the City.”