OP Updates

OP Ben Oliver Is Looking For Some London Advice

Recent leaver Ben Oliver (2016) is finishing up his second year studying Psychology at Cardiff University and has secured himself an exciting year in industry in the capital.

Ben will be taking on an Occupational Psychology placement in a firm called Strengths Partnership currently based in Wimbledon. New to the area, Ben is keen to get in touch with fellow OPs who live in and around London. He tells us more:

I’m really excited about my upcoming placement. Strengths Partnership are a bit like a management consultancy firm, however, has employers with a background in psychology.

The company supports a wide-range of top UK (and a few international) firms within their HR departments in preparing psychometric profiles for employees that highlight their natural strengths and how they can be optimised and utilised in their roles within their company.

The Strengths Partnership office is being moved to Waterloo in August before I get there so I would love to get in touch with any OPs who may live nearby to give me some advice on where is good to stay or may know of a room to rent.

If you can help Ben and would like to get in touch, please email us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk and we’ll pass on your details.

Bradley Rice Takes A Walk On The Wild Side

Bradley shares a short anecdote from the book, which he is currently in the process of writing, about the four and a half months he spent in the Bolivian jungle, at Park Ambue Ari. It was an incredible experience, where he lived and worked with animals on a day to day basis. The short extract below details one of his many encounters with Maggie, a female puma who was sure to keep you on your toes.

To say I was nervous was an understatement, especially because it had been a long time coming. Recent forest fires had resulted in an emergency shift around in scheduling as fighting them became the primary challenge. Not that we had become fire fighters overnight, nothing to that extent but it did entail all hands on deck in terms of clearing fire trails and creating fire breaks. Unfortunately, it had meant that many of the cats had not been walked for up to a week, one of the unlucky few had been Maggie. Ideally training would be carried out over a matter of days, but due to lack of numbers teamed with factors out of our control, I had been somewhat held up. As a result, instead of feeling confident and building on my last session, as we made our way out to the cage, I felt as if I was back to square one. The nerves were jangling and I felt uneasy, I had no idea how this was going to play out, I remember my fingers twitching and trembling as I readied myself, a mixture of fear and adrenaline in equal measures. I was both excited and petrified. 

The clipping on process was practically identical to that of Tupac. I knelt down, with my hands poised, and the carabiner open. It was time. Maggie made it perfectly clear that she was ready and willing, after a few hair raising laps of her cage, she strode confidently up to the double doors. I gave the signal and Scott released the door. In she came, I put my hands through, it was clear she wanted to make a formal introduction. She seized her moment, as I attempted to clip her on, she bit down on my hand. It was nothing hard but enough to make me jump and recoil.

‘Don’t worry, she may give you a little nip but it’s just a love bite, give it another go.’ Ollie was encouraging with his words. He could see that I had been a little put out by a puma latching on to my hand, first with her paw and then with her teeth. So I gave it a second and a third go, but she continued to bat me away, try as I might, I was unable to make a clear connection, she was very astute at keeping her collar well protected.

‘It’s alright, she can be like this, especially with new people, I will do it for today,’ Ollie came over and gave me a hand, she pawed at him, but he simply shrugged it off and clipped her on. I stood back up. Whereas before I had been edgy, I now found myself on tenterhooks given what had just happened. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot, she wasn’t even out of the cage yet and already she had given me a fright. I could feel the sweat pouring from me, the humidity wasn’t helping but I also knew that the amount I was perspiring, was not solely down to the heat of the jungle. I took a step to the side, Scott motioned that he was in position, I leaned across, unbolted the door and quickly opened it before taking a seismic leap back. I had been convinced that she was to take a jump at me as soon as I had paved the way for her entrance. As it were, with my pulse still racing, Maggie simply strolled out of the cage as if to say, what’s all the fuss about? I however, knew she was playing the waiting game, stalling for the opportune moment to pounce.



Thomas Skillington's Passion For Travelling Sparks His Political Journey

After leaving Princethorpe I decided that I would study for a BSc in Physics and Maths with the Open Univeristy as I would qualify with less debt and I would be able to work while I studied. I initially got a job with the Yorkshire Bank and worked there for a couple of years but after my Grandad bought me a pilot lesson one Christmas I realised my passion was flying.

I now work for British Airways as cabin crew whilst continuing my degree but I plan to apply for airline pilot training when I graduate. I absolutely love travelling the world for work and have had many amazing experiences. I’ve tobogganed down the Great Wall of China, had a champagne breakfast in Sydney Harbour, climbed Table Mountain in South Africa, visited Niagra Falls in Canada, won on the slots in Vegas, seen the Northern Lights whilst flying over Greenland and kissed a giraffe in Kenya.

After seeing so many beautiful places I realised that we need to work a lot harder to protect the planet so that future generations can enjoy life as much as we do. That’s when I decided to get more involved with the Green Party. With global warming, deforestation, species extinction, the war on plastic, and overpopulation threatening life as we know it, it is all too clear to me that the impact on environment should be at the forefront of every decision that we make.

I applied to stand for candidate in the Woodford Ward of the local Daventry District elections on Thursday 3 May and was lucky enough to be accepted. I will be working hard over the next few years to try and increase the Green Party vote in my ward and hope that one day I will sit on the council.

George Power Lands His Dream Job

I left Princethorpe in 2013 after finishing my A-Levels. I chose, unlike most of my year-group, not to go to university. Since the age of six I had always wanted to become an airline pilot. I was in the Air Cadets throughout school, but now was my chance to start pursuing the dream.

I began working for various companies to fund my flight training: M&S, Waitrose and eventually the Royal Shakespeare Company. I worked at the RSC for just under three years as a bartender. Alongside working I completed all the necessary aviation exams (14 of them) and flight tests to fly aircraft and passengers commercially.

I finished my flight training in August 2017 and immediately (the day after I finished!) began applying to the airlines. The first airline I applied to was Jet2.com and their ‘Pilot Apprentice’ scheme. After a blurry couple of months doing interviews, group exercises and simulator assessments with Jet2 I was offered the job. Their scheme is designed to expose you to as many areas of the company as possible and since starting in January, I have spent time working with Legal, HR, Revenue, Planning, OPs, Engineering, Cabin Crew and countless more.

I am now stationed in Belfast, working in our crew room at the International Airport until the second half of this year, when I will begin flying the Boeing 737 for Jet2.com as a Second Officer, hopefully out of Birmingham Airport!

Jonathan Walls' Career Is Motoring Along

I was at Princethorpe from 1982 to 1988 and they were very happy times although in my 48th year this seems like an incredibly long time ago!

After leaving Princethorpe I studied Media and Business Management at what is now University of Chester and embarked on an early career with the BBC freelancing in production and research in local radio in York, Manchester and Coventry. Alas the BBC staff jobs were few and far between so subsidised contracts with lots of temporary work before deciding a career change was needed. 

This saw the start of a career in PR and Marketing from 1994 - boosting my experience with a Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma. After a junior PR role in a local agency gaining experience over two years,  I moved to Hella Lighting in Banbury where I was product manager for 10 years. Working just across the road from Prodrive Motorsport, I was lured into an exciting three years of high octane motorsport marketing having completed a sponsorship deal at Hella with Aston Martin Racing on lighting for Le Mans. 

Meanwhile at home I got married in 2007 to Karen and the family came along in 2001 with Oliver and in 2004, Hermione arrived who are now 16 and 13!

My ambition has always been to work for a luxury brand and I joined Jaguar Land Rover at Gaydon as Global XF Product Manager in 2011 before moving to JLR UK to launch F-TYPE and then become Jaguar Events Manager. My current role is JLR UK Launch Events Manager working on all the exciting vehicle launches which is a role I really enjoy.

Driving down the Fosse Way I often wave at Princethorpe and have fond memories of my time there and am most grateful for the education which has led me to where I am now.

Alex Rooney Clinches A Spot In Men's England University Hockey Squad

We were delighted to hear news that OP Alex Rooney has clinched a spot in the Men's England University Hockey Squad ahead of a series of summer tournaments and got the chance to train with a fellow OP in the process.

Alex, who left Princethorpe in 2014, was joined by OP and former 1st XI Captain Richard Hill (2015 leaver) for a special two-day event at the University of Manchester which culminated in the North vs South Challenge Cup. 

Over Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March, the pair were put through their paces undertaking intensive training sessions, leading to the much-contested North vs South match. Both Alex and Richard, who are at St Mary's University, Twickenham and the University of Coventry respectively, were representing the South, with Alex captaining the squad. 

The two-day event and Challenge Cup allowed for coaches from the England University team to select an overall squad to put forward for their summer line-up. Matches in the pipeline so far will see games against Hockey for Heroes, the Junior England sides, and potentially a tour to Holland.

Both boys said it was a fantastic few days with good times had all-round and a great opportunity to share a pitch together once more! 

Good luck Alex - we look forward to hearing more about your summer matches soon. 

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Kate McKee Donates Her Locks To The Little Princess Trust

We spotted that OP Kate McKee recently donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust and contacted her to find out more about what she’s been up to since she left Princethorpe. She takes up her story below.

I left Princethorpe in 2012 and took a gap year with fellow OP Millie White. We travelled around Thailand and Australia for several months. Then I went to study English Literature at Swansea University which was partly inspired but Mr Kerrigan, I hope he is still teaching at Princethorpe! After University, I worked full time as a letting agent and part time as a gymnastics coach, which I’ve been doing for a decade now. I also started running a property investment business with two partners and our first deal went through this week.

I am currently travelling around China with my boyfriend for the next 7 weeks after flying out to surprise him in Hohhot Inner Mongolia. When I get back, I will be starting as a partner in a decorating and refurbishment company, running the business side of things, accounts scheduling, client relations and branding. It’s a fairly new company and the man that runs it has asked me to come on as a partner as it’s taking off very quickly. That’s me up to date since I left Princethorpe other than travelling around Morocco and Croatia!

As for donating my hair, I wanted to do something for charity but as you can probably tell I don’t have much time on my hands and I’m saving to invest in my own property portfolio with the long term view to move back out to China in a few years. I thought donating my hair would be a great way to help and something that I could fit into to my life. When I started, my hair was shoulder length and by the time I finished (after 18 months of not cutting/dyeing my hair) I was able to donate just under 10 inches.

What a lovely thing to do Kate – thank you for getting in touch and good luck with your new business ventures (Mr Kerrigan is still teaching at Princethorpe too)!

If you would like to support the Little Princess Trust (either by fundraising or donating your hair!) please visit www.littleprincesses.org.uk to find out more.

Martin Gallagher Couldn’t Resist Running The London Marathon Again

Despite promising that he wouldn't do it again, OP Martin Gallagher just couldn't resist the challenge of running the Virgin Money London Marathon one more time.  So on Sunday 22 April 2018, on what turned out be one of the hottest marathon days ever, he joined more than 40,000 fund-raisers, amateur runners and elite athletes pounding the streets of London. This time Martin was running to raise money for Alzheimer's Research UK.

Martin lost his father to Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, he found it heart-breaking watching him deteriorate and so in recognition of the great man that he was, and the fact that 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop some form of dementia during their lives, he laced up his running shoes and set out for the start line and another monumental marathon fund-raising run.

Martin commented, “It was a fantastic day albeit a bit too hot for my liking!!! The atmosphere was electric from the very start and the support from the spectators was unbelievable.”

Martin set himself a fundraising target of £2,000 but has raised more than twice that much with his total now standing at £5,183.75 including gift aid.

If you would still like to support Martin then please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=MartinGallagher78&pageUrl=3

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Rod Griffin Appointed Distance Coach For Australian U20 Team

Old Princethorpian, Rod Griffin who now resides in Buninyong, Australia, has been appointed Distance Coach for the Australian U20 Team competing in the World Junior Championships, which will be held in Finland in July.

Griffin, who is the Athletics Australia national junior coach in distance has been involved with a number of Australian Teams in the past. He has been manager of World University Cross Country Teams, World Cross Country Teams, Ekiden Relay Teams, Junior Track and Field Teams and Commonwealth Youth teams.

Rod was appointed National Junior Distance Coach in 2015 and.has responsibility for supporting the development of distance athletes, and their personal coaches, who participate in Athletics Australia’s junior high performance squads or are in contention to national youth and junior teams.

A coach for more than 30 years, Griffin has guided numerous state and national champions at different stages of their careers, many of whom have moved onto represent their country at events such as the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, the IAAF World Championships and the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. His most noted charges including Olympians Collis Birmingham who held the Australian record for 10k and Victoria Mitchell. Duer Yoa has represented Australia at World Cross Country whilst Stewart McSweyn recently competed at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Other Internationals at World Championships include Jack Davies and Courtney Scott.

Griffin was in the very first intake of students to arrive at Princethorpe in 1966 and was a student until he left for the Antipodes in 1970. In 2014 Rod gave a talk to our students about his coaching experiences.

Georgina Dadson Awarded Doris Newton Music Club Prize

Huge congratulations to Old Princthorpian Georgina Dadson who has just been awarded the Doris Newton Music Club Prize.  A talented and dedicated classical guitarist, Georgina, who has been playing guitar since she was at primary school, is now in her final year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

The Doris Newton Music Club Prize is open only to the winners of the nine Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Department Prizes.  The winners of the Woodwind, Guitar, Brass, Saxophone, Piano, Percussion, Recorder, Strings and Vocal competitions compete against each other for this highly respected final award.

The College was delighted, but unsurprised, to hear that Georgina had proved herself to be the best of the best and been crowned this year’s overall winner.

An amazing achievement Georgina! 

OP Jacob Stone Is On A Medical Elective In Malawi

Hello from Malawi!

I am currently on my medical elective at a small rural health clinic on the shores of Lake Malawi with my girlfriend Katharine, who is also a final year medical student. Having sat and (thankfully!) passed my medical finals in January, this elective is the culmination of my medical training. The project is funded by an Irish charity who send doctors and nurses from the UK out to a clinic which caters for a very deprived community in Malawi. The clinic, The Billy Riordan Memorial Trust, was set up in 2004, by Mags Riordan in memory of her son who tragically drowned in Lake Malawi nearly 20 years ago. 

Here I see patients with a variety of tropical diseases, many of which I have not encountered during my studies in the UK. There is a large outbreak of Malaria in this area of Malawi currently and we have seen a huge number of poorly children who present very severely with extremely high fevers and even seizures. Managing these patients with only a limited supply of tests and medicines available is definitely a challenge, but at the same time, extremely rewarding. We are lucky at the clinic to have five doctors from the UK and one doctor from Malawi working here. This is in comparison to the local government hospital (around a 45 minute drive away) which has over 150 beds and not one doctor employed there!

A large part of the clinic's work is looking after patients with HIV/AIDS; sadly around 1 in 7 people in Malawi are HIV-positive, including thousands of children. The clinic runs specialist clinics for this cohort of patients and keeps tabs on medication compliance, adverse drug effects and the general wellbeing of these patients who are at such high risk of contracting opportunistic infections. Thankfully specialist HIV medications are free in Malawi however other basic medicines are not. It is extremely sad to see patients with common conditions such as Asthma, who are not even able to afford an inhaler to help their symptoms, at the cost of around 500 kwatcha (equivalent to 50p). Even though the clinic is a charity, they still have to charge patients very small amounts for certain services otherwise they simply would not be able to operate. Hopefully this will change as the charity continues to grow further in the future.

Following my four week stint in Malawi, I will be travelling to Moshi in northern Tanzania (at the foot of Kilimanjaro mountain) to work in a mission hospital called Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. I anticipate this hospital to be much more 'westernised' than the clinic at Lake Malawi and it will be interesting to compare the two, especially in seeing the Christian aspect of the healthcare in northern Tanzania.

Once back in the UK, I will have my university graduation in July and start my first year foundation doctor job at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester in August. I was pleased to receive my first-choice of job allocation and will be working four month rotations in Acute Medicine, Cardiology, General Surgery, Intensive Care, General Practice and Emergency Medicine.