November 13, 2020 @ 16:18 by Steven Hugill
Tributes have been paid to a North East travel agency boss.
John Hays, founder and managing director of Hays Travel, has died.
In a statement, the company said John, who ran the business alongside wife and co-owner Irene, was at work today (Friday, November 13) in the firm’s Sunderland head office when he collapsed.
Working with Irene, John built the business over 40 years into the UK’s largest independent travel agent, having begun in a store in Seaham, County Durham.
Last year, John and Irene attracted national headlines when they bought Thomas Cook’s 555-shop empire following the operator’s collapse, saving in the process more than 2000 jobs nationwide.
In a statement, the company said John had died “doing the job he loved”.
It said: “Throughout this past difficult year, John did everything in his power to save jobs and protect the travel industry.
“He was held in immense respect by his staff, colleagues, family and friends and was recognised throughout his life for his many achievements.
“He was equally proud of his loyal staff who, under the direction of the board and senior management team, will ensure that the business continues to serve the customers of the UK’s largest independent travel agent as he would have wanted.”