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Mark Hughes pays tribute after Australia Day Award

To the nib Newcastle Knights, Mark Hughes is a cherished former player, part of the Club’s 1997 and 2001 premiership winning teams, but he has and continues to also work tirelessly for the Hunter community of which he loves.

His hard work and dedication to finding a cure for brain cancer, as founder of the Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF) established in 2014, was recognised on Australia Day.

Hughes was awarded Newcastle’s Citizen of the Year for his work in helping the charity to raise more than $5 million for research and a brain cancer nurse at the John Hunter Hospital.

The former Knights centre, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2013, said he was graciously humbled to receive the award, but acknowledged all the hard-working individuals who helped him along the way.

“It was something I never expected to receive and I’m accepting it on behalf of a lot of people,” added Hughes.

“Our very small and hard-working MHF team, who do an amazing job, our volunteers, our supporters who buy a beanie or donate money, they’re the reason why we have received this type of recognition.”

Nominated by Clint Newton, Danny Buderus and wife Kris Buderus, Hughes admits he was overwhelmed by their kindness and to be recognised amongst a community of over achievers.

“There are so many great people out there in the community that donate their time, whether it’s school canteen, coaching netball or whether it’s helping a charity,” Hughes maintained.

“There’s so many people out there doing wonderful things every day so to be singled out amongst all those wonderful people was very nice, but I’m also very aware that there’s loads of people in the community doing great things.”

But the award won’t see Hughes’ passion to help find a cure for brain cancer stop there; he can’t wait for a big 2018 with the Foundation.

“We’ve just started to work on our beanie campaign which is going to be Round 12 of the NRL, so we’re really excited about that and we have two great new designs,” smiled Hughes.

“This year we have put a lot of thought into it and we have certainly ordered a lot more beanies so we’re going to need lots of support.

“We’ve also got the Evolution Charity Cup coming up for Surfest, where 20 local businesses have got a team of four.

“We’ve got a team consisting of Billy Peden, Kurt Gidley, Adam Muir all former players, Rob Whitaker and Tim Whitaker a pro surfer, whose part of our team, which we’re grateful he is able to join us.

“Each team will be raising money for the Foundation and we hope to raise around $100 thousand, so we’re looking forward to that.

“There’s also a big ball in Newcastle in August every year and that’s another big event on our calendar that we always look forward to as well.”

Hughes has also praised the Knights for their partnership with MHF and their endless support for the charity.

“The Newcastle Knights have been fantastic supporters of the Foundation since day one,” he said.

“Helping us with so many things and supporting us, so we’re always extremely grateful, and we not only get support from the players but all the wonderful people that work in the office that assist our team in our efforts to fundraise.”