Published on 13 November 2020
University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell has paid tribute to John Hays, Managing Director of Hays Travel, who has died.
A statement from Hays Travel today said John, the founder and Managing Director of the Sunderland-based business, passed away 'while doing the job he loved'.
For over 40 years, John built Hays Travel into the UK's largest independent travel agent providing jobs and careers for thousands of young people.
Along with his wife and co-owner Irene Hays, he bought the Thomas Cook retail estate a year ago. The businessman was at work in the company's Sunderland head office when he collapsed.
John was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by the University in 2010.
He received the honour for his outstanding achievements in the travel and tourism industry and his lifelong commitment to supporting enterprise and philanthropy in Sunderland and the North East region.
Paying tribute, Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, said: “It is with the deepest regret that we heard about the sudden death of John Hays.
“John was as an outstanding businessman and someone totally committed to the city of Sunderland. He was also a great friend and supporter, as well as an honorary graduate, of the University of Sunderland.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Irene and the rest of the family. They will be much in our thoughts at this very sad time.”