The presentation of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award to Luke Hasson was one of the highlights of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner last Friday.
Luke Hasson has been a director of Austin’s department store for many years and an ambassador for the city’s business sector.
His award was presented by Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Sinead McLaughlin who said: “Luke Hasson’s association with the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce goes back nearly half a century and he was our President in 1985 when we commemorated our 100th Anniversary. We now celebrate our 130th anniversary.
“His family business has played a central role in the retail offering in the heart of the city centre since 1953, acquiring the prestigious landmark ‘Austin’s Building’ in 1976. During difficult trading times, at the height of ‘the troubles’, Austin’s continued to trade and like their fellow retailers they were stoic and resilient.
“The phrase ‘Business as Usual’ during the 70s and 80s was synonymous with the retail sector and Luke Hasson personified this resilience and more importantly he articulated the aspiration of the business community. During the toughest periods in our city’s history, Luke worked tirelessly to promote Derry as a business location supporting the development of infrastructure required to consolidate the city’s status as the North West’s commercial hub.”
She continued: “Service to the city has played a central role in Luke’s life: he was elected onto the Londonderry Rural District Council as an independent councillor in 1966. He is a Past President of Rotary Club and recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship Award for his outstanding contribution to Rotary.
“During his Presidency of the Chamber of Commerce, Luke Hasson developed strong relationships with government ministers and senior civil servants.
“He instigated a strategy of hosting senior officials on their visits to the city and he gave them space to debate the many problems in the strictest of confidence - many a negotiation and discussion went on until the wee small hours.
“Luke has been always been a strong champion for the city centre, campaigning for retailers in particular as well as for businesses in general.”