Pictures by North News
LANDMARKS across Sunderland have been lit in tribute to city businessman John Hays and the foundation he created.
Mr Hays was founder of the Hays Travel holiday firm and the Hays Travel Foundation, which supports young people to achieve their potential. Their blue and orange brand colours are a familiar sight in Sunderland city centre, where Hays has its HQ and in hundreds of high streets.
Those colours also became familiar to the whole nation last year, when Mr Hays and his wife, Irene – who co-owns the business – saved the jobs of thousands of former staff at Thomas Coo, by buying all 555 of the collapsed tour operator’s UK high street shops, in a deal worth just over £6million. Hays Travel employs just over 7,000 people.
At dusk yesterday the Northern Spire bridge, Penshaw Monument, Fulwell Mill, Seaburn Lighthouse, Hylton Castle, Beacon of Light and Keel Square outside the company’s HQ at Gilbridge House were lit to mark his passing.
Mr Hays died on Friday 13 November and his funeral is due to be held today, when the landmarks will be lit again from dusk to dawn in tribute.
Sunderland Council leader Graeme Miller said: “It was a shock to so many people to hear of John’s death. It’s fitting that we have a visible tribute and with a book of condolences there is the opportunity to mark his passing in words.
“John was always deeply loyal and committed to Sunderland and the North East region and we thank him for that.
“I know many other people feel the same, and he was loved and admired by many people in the city and beyond.”
You can add your own personal tribute to Mr Hays by visiting the book of condolence online here.
In 2016, the city council awarded Mr Hays the Freedom of the City in recognition for his services to the community.