Skip to content

Dame Irene Hays built her career in both local and central government. Now the owner of Hays Travel, Dame Irene has been Chair of the Hays Travel Group for 16 years. Her late husband, John Hays, began selling holidays in 1980 and Dame Irene joined him in running Hays Travel when she retired from Whitehall. Both Irene and John were hailed as ‘heroes of the high street’ in 2019, when they acquired the Thomas Cook estate and offered jobs to nearly 3,000 people.

Supporting and enabling young people to reach their potential has been a constant throughout Dame Irene’s career. From Hays Travel’s Charitable Foundation and Apprenticeship programme, to her position on the boards of the BBC, Sport England, The Football Foundation and the Department for Education, Dame Irene has consistently represented the interests of young people. She was awarded a CBE in 2008 and a Damehood in the New Year Honours List of 2020 for services to the education and training of young people.

Back To Top