Irene Hays officially becomes a Dame following a ceremony with The Princess Royal at Windsor Castle
Irene Hays, who owns Hays Travel, is “delighted” to have officially been made Dame Commander by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in a ceremony at Windsor Castle today (November 23).
Dame Irene was recognised for her work in supporting and championing the cause of young people throughout her career in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
She was officially listed on the roll of honour as receiving the award for ‘Services to Training, to Education and to Young People’ .
After receiving her new title from Princess Anne, Dame Irene said: “I am delighted and proud to accept this honour on behalf of all of the apprentices and all of the trainers everywhere, especially at Hays Travel, where we have always supported and developed young people to be the best they can be and to get the most they can out of life.
"Young people have been the lifeblood of Hays Travel for over 40 years and they are vital to our future.”
Until his sad passing last year, Irene and been partnered in her quest to support young people by husband, John Hays. Together the couple set up a travel academy to help train apprentices to work in the industry as well as launching the Hays Travel Foundation, which so far has invested over £1million to support young people.
After first being informed of her award, Dame Irene said: “In these circumstances, with John just gone, it has been bitter sweet. When they rang me and said I had been awarded the honour, the first person I thought about was John and he would have been thrilled.
"I know I am getting the honour, but the honour is for all the people who have helped these young people over the years to be successful.
"I was overwhelmed when I heard. In all of my careers, I have always tried to help and support young people to be the best they can be."
Dame Irene has already received the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2008 for services to local government.
Born in Ashington to a mining family, Dame Irene was previously Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council and Director General of Local Government and Regeneration in Whitehall.