THE boss of a travel firm has become a Dame for her services to training and education.

Irene Lucas-Hays was named as one of 11 women to be conferred as Dame Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (DBE), in the 2020 New Year's honours list.

Today, Tuesday, November 23, she received her DBE becoming Dame Lucas-Hays.

The award was given in her case for services to training, education and young people.

She said that she had a 'passion for apprentices and apprenticeships.'

The former chief executive of both South Tyneside and Sunderland councils was awarded a CBE for services to local government, in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Dame Lucas-Hays now chairs the company and took over as its CEO following the death of her husband and business partner John Hays.

When damehood was announced on the New Year's honours list she described it as “bitter sweet”.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054