Class of 2018: Visionary business leader honored

Irene Lucas

Published on 30 November 2018

Irene Lucas initially worked at Sunderland City Council for 25 years, progressing to the role of Assistant Chief Executive. During her tenure she was instrumental in the delivery of many of the city’s iconic landmarks.

Irene helped develop the then largest regeneration project in Europe on the old colliery site at Silksworth, creating pitches, a country park, fishing lakes and attracting the first Indoor Tennis Initiative in the country.

Working in partnership with English Heritage, she developed the Winter Gardens, Sunderland Museum and the restoration of Mowbray Park.

In 2001 she persuaded Apollo Theatres in London to work with the Council to refurbish the Empire Theatre – enabling it to bring West End shows such as Miss Saigon and War Horse to Sunderland.

In 2002 she became Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council leading the team that took it from a ‘Poor’ authority to the Best Achieving Council in the UK in 2006.

And it was in 2015 that she was asked to return to Sunderland City Council for a fixed period, this time as Chief Executive. Irene stepped down in July and now works with central government and the Hays Travel Foundation.