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Cookstown High School, Cookstown

An Evening with Aaron Hughes

22nd Jan 2020

Cookstown High School and the Former Pupils’ Association were delighted to welcome back past pupil, Aaron Hughes MBE, last Tuesday night. Football fans, parents, current and past pupils and teachers, local football teams and members of the local community packed the Miller Hall to listen to Aaron’s journey, accomplishments and experiences in achieving the very highest levels in professional football nationally and internationally.

Interviewed by Mrs Claire Allen, Vice Principal, Aaron gave a very warm, personal, real and honest humorous insight in to various aspects of his life and career. Aaron revisited his earliest days and memories with one or two surprises and personal sporting tributes from Mr Bobby Hamilton (High School hockey coach) and Mr George Barclay (previous Head of PE), Ms Carla Dallas (Coagh United) as well as Stuart Dallas who played with Aaron in the N Ireland team.

Mrs Allen discussed Aaron’s school life and professional career which has spanned over 20 years and has seen him make over 650 appearances for several clubs, including Newcastle United, Fulham, Aston Villa, and Hearts as well as playing in Australia and India. Aaron made his first team debut in the Camp Nou in a match between Newcastle and Barcelona on 26 November 1996, and he has made 112 appearances for N Ireland.

Old friends, teachers, and former pupils managed to catch up with Aaron in Coolnafranky House at a sumptuous buffet provided generously by Finch’s, Cookstown, prior to the event. During the evening football fans and admirers had the opportunity to have photographs, autographs, signed pictures and footballs as well as a pair of Aaron’s football boots!

Miss Evans (Principal) presented Aaron with a framed painting by Mr George Gourley (previous Head of Art) of Aaron as a superhero ‘Captain Norn Iron’ thanking him for kindly giving of his time and sharing his experiences and especially the underpinning importance of good character.

A truly wonderful evening where his old school and Cookstown Community acknowledged their delight and pride in ‘one of their own’ who has not forgotten his roots and has rightly been heralded by many as a ‘gentleman, dedicated, the consummate professional, a Northern Ireland legend and a true inspiration to young people’ with a standing ovation.