THOUSANDS of pounds have been raised in less than 48 hours in memory of the founder of Hays Travel, John Hays.

Almost £11,000 has been raised for the Hays Travel Foundation following Mr Hays' sudden death on Friday.

A GoFundMe page, which has seen more than 1,400 donate so far, has been set up to support one of Mr Hays' "proudest achievements."

SEE MORE: Hays Travel founder John Hays dies after collapsing at Sunderland office

Set up by John Milburn, the GoFundMe has been asking for donations of no more than £5 to go towards the Hays Travel Foundation in memory of Mr Hays.

The scheme was created in 2015 to support younger people in their bid to find vocational work.

Hays Travel said the foundation works with organisations to support people to "achieve their potential."

On the GoFundMe fundraiser, a statement said: "We have been overwhelmed by the messages and condolences received for John Hays.

"There has been a number of requests to send flowers or send a donation to a charity.

"If anyone would like to make a donation in his memory, Irene would be grateful for a £5 donation (no more) to be made to the Hays Travel Foundation which was one of Johns proudest achievements."

As it emerged Mr Hays had died on Friday, thousands of tributes poured in for the "champion and legend" of the North-East.

SEE MORE: Tributes pour in for North-East 'legend' John Hays after sudden death

Among those paying tribute, Sunderland AFC, Sunderland MP Julie Elliot and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, paid tribute to Mr Hays, who had been awarded an Honorary degree by the university in 2010.

He 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."

Meanwhile Sunderland AFC paid their respects and said: "We are incredible saddened to learn of the passing of former Vice-Chairman John Hays.

"John was a champion of the North-East and the City of Sunderland. Our thoughts are with his wife Irene, his family and his friends at this time."

To donate to the cause visit -