OP Updates

Jean-Pierre Rubs Shoulders With Royalty At Hospice Celebration

OP Jean-Pierre Parsons, Vice Chairman and long-standing Trustee of Staffordshire-based Katharine House Hospice, rubbed shoulders with royalty in the summer when Princess Alexandra visited the charity to celebrate their 25th Anniversary of providing day care services,.

Jean-Pierre takes up the story:

"The Hospice offers its services to patients free of charge and we raise our income, through a grant from the NHS which covers around a quarter of our operating costs, by operating a chain of shops in the mid Staffordshire area, from donations and legacies and by holding fundraising events.

"We have hundreds of volunteers who give their time freely to help in any way they can. Our funds enable us to employ professional medical, nursing and other therapy staff who provide services to patients not only in the in-patient unit at the Hospice but also in the community."

He continues, "Princess Alexandra visited us on 13th June to celebrate our providing 25 years of Day Care services.  She really was wonderful and spoke to everyone, patients, staff, volunteers and our supporters. I hope you will note that my Old Princethorpian tie was worn with pride.

"I am currently Vice Chairman and have been a Trustee for approaching nine years so my tenure will soon be up.  The role is voluntary and it has been a real privilege."

Maja Gains A First In Physics

Super huge congratulations to Maja Naumczyk who graduated from the University of Leeds this July with a first class degree in BSc Physics.

Maja studied at Princethorpe College from 2011 to 2015.

We were delighted to hear about her success and wish her the very best for her future career.


Nothing Pointless About Hannah

OP, Hannah Gallager recently took part in the hit TV show Pointless, the quiz where contestants try to score as few points as possible by attempting to find correct but obscure answers to general knowledge questions.

She told us, "When my friend tweeted about wanting to go on a game show I replied never thinking we would actually make it on the show."

But she did more than make it, Hannah and her fellow contestant, her good friend Mayo, sailed through the first and second rounds and into the Head to Head.  There she stumbled over a geography question so they didn't make it through to the final.

She continued, "It was a great experience getting to see how the show's done meeting Alex and Richard and the team, although I’m not sure my family is ever going to let me forget my knowledge of Australia, or lack of!

The show aired on 20 September 2018 and if you would like to watch Hannah in action please follow the link to BBC iplayer, althoguh you will have to be quick, as it is now only available for 15 days!




Libby Is Enjoying Barclays Corporate Banking Graduate Programme

In August I started on the Barclays Corporate Banking Graduate Programme in Birmingham.  I had three weeks of training in London with Barclays graduates from across the world, doing things like technical training, excel training, citizenship and even the military assault course at Sandhurst!  

I’m on a two year programme, during which I get to rotate around different parts of the Corporate Bank here in the Midlands.  My first rotation is as a Relationship Support Manager in the Large Corporate team, dealing with some of the biggest clients we have at Barclays in the Midlands region.  On a daily basis I have to keep in touch with clients to make sure their banking needs are satisfied and deal with any queries or problems.  I’ve also had the opportunity to take part in some citizenship events, including the Barclays ‘Connect with Work’ programme, working with underprivileged individuals to help prepare them for job interviews.  I’m only a couple of months in to the graduate programme but I am really enjoying it so far and looking forward to the next two years!

Tricia And John Are Back Working For The Foundation

Two Old Princethorpians, Tricia Bach and John Seymour are back working for The Foundation.

Tricia, whose maiden name was Patricia Whelan, attended the College’s Sixth Form from 1985-1987.  She went on to study Music at Bath Spa University and then completed her PGCE at Leeds.  She lived and worked abroad for many years, teaching music, spending 13 years in south west France and time in the States and Italy.  On her return to the UK, by chance when singing, she met Sue Francis and Felicity Coulson and it wasn’t long before they persuaded her to join the College’s peripatetic team.

John Seymour was a pupil at the College from 1991-1992.  He was here when the Foundation celebrated its silver jubilee and remembers being taught Maths by Mr Darkes, Biology by Mr Philpott and enjoying Rugby with Mr Price.  After 17 years working in IT at most of the schools in and around Rugby, John has returned to the Foundation as a Senior IT Infrastructure Engineer.  John’s sister, Halina was also a weekly boarding student at the College and John was most surprised to find out that his office was one of Halina’s old dormitory rooms. Now a technical hub of the school, photos have been shared with her to show just how much Princethorpe College has evolved.

Rob Redwood Plays Jake In The Archers

OP, Rob Redwood has been playing Jake Grundy in Radio 4’s long running soap opera, The Archers.

Rob left Princethorpe College in 2017 and is currently studying Performing Arts at Stratford Upon Avon College.  Earlier this year he auditioned for the part of Jake Grundy in The Archers and was delighted to be cast in the role.  His first episode aired on Friday 13 April and he has recorded further episodes since.

Rob said, “I’m studying performing arts which I love. I’m having such a great time while learning so much.  The role in the Archers is my first professional acting role and it feels really weird that I can now call myself a professional actor.”

Rob has also had a number of other auditions for different upcoming films, adverts and plays.

Reach for the stars Rob, we are delighted to hear that you are enjoying life and that all is going well for you.  We will be watching and listening out for you now, as there will be more than a few OPs who regularly tune in to hear the latest from Ambridge.

Laura's Off To Oxford For Her Masters In Inorganic Chemistry

Congratulations to Laura Bickerton who graduated with a First in Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry from the University of Nottingham in July.  Laura was inspired in her Science studies by Gill Smith, former Head of Science at Princethorpe and is pictured with her very proud Grandad, Alan Hobson on graduation day.

Comments Laura, " I have just started my research Masters at the University of Oxford, having joined Wadham College where I will be studying Inorganic Chemistry as part of a research group, specialising in Supramolecular Chemistry.

"From my time at the University of Nottingham, I have loved being in a lab and I hope to work towards a career in academia."

We wish Laura all the very best with the next stage of her studies!

OP Felicity Named Freelance Journalist Of The Year

Felicity Hannah (King-Evans), who left Princethorpe in 2001, was named Freelance Journalist of the Year at the Headlinemoney Awards in May. She now writes for the Independent, Mirror and Guardian, as well as working as a broadcast journalist for the business news team at BBC Radio 5 Live.

Many congratulations Hannah - what a fantastic achievement! 

Oscar Thornton Now Studying For An MA

We were delighted to hear from Oscar Thornton who left Princethorpe College back in 2014. 

Oscar first took a gap year and worked as one of our Graduate Teaching Assistants at the College.  He then went on to Swansea University to study for a BA in History.  Last summer he successfully graduated with a 2.1 and chose to stay in South Wales and continue with his education.  He is now studying for an MA in International Relations again at Swansea University.

Thanks for the update Oscar and congratulations on your degree success.


OP Alex Switches Product Design For Mine Warfare

In February 2018, OP Alex Hammond enlisted in the Royal Navy. He takes up his story below.

My name is Alex Hammond. I am currently training as a Mine Warfare Specialist in the Royal Navy. Since leaving Princethorpe College in 2012, I studied product design at Nottingham Trent University and worked as a product designer for two years before deciding to join the Royal Navy in February this year. 

To join the Royal Navy, trainees must first undergo a rigorous 10-week course designed to convert civilians into military personnel and pass out into the fleet. This course is an intense mix physical training sessions but in between them trainees are taught fire fighting, boat driving, teamwork skills hiking across Dartmoor and many more! But it’s all worth it while laughing with your friends who are going through the same thing. Trainees who have completed the course pass out into the fleet by taking part in a passing out parade. Passing out essentially means you are now military personnel and ready to learn your chosen trade.

Since passing out I have been lucky enough to compete for HMS Raleigh in field gun competitions and have been doing adventure training in the Brecon Beacons (all while studying to be a mine warfare specialist). I am due to join my first ship before the end of the year and go on my first 6-9 month deployment.

I would thoroughly suggest the Royal Navy to anyone thinking about joining the military, it has been a great laugh right from the start and the amount of opportunities for sport and travel are huge.

Thank you for sending in your update Alex. Wishing you all the best with your future studies and training and for your first deployment from all at Princethorpe.  

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Father Carl Tranter MSC Celebrates The Silver Jubilee Of His Ordination

In July this year Father Carl Tranter MSC celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Ordination at Western Road, Cork.  He concelebrated Mass with other members of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

Father Carl was born in Leamington Spa and was educated at Princethorpe College from 1977-1984.  After working in banking he joined the religious order and was ordained in the College Chapel in 1993.   He was a trustee of the Foundation until his appointed as Assistant Superior General of the MSC Congregation and a member of the General Council in Rome in 2011. Last year Father Carl was appointed Provincial of the Anglo-Irish Province of the Order and he is now based in Dublin.

Past pupil and member of staff, Eddie Tolcher, and his wife Ann travelled to Cork to join Carl, his parents Rod & Julie and his sister Sheena and friends at the Mass and celebrations afterwards together with other members of the religious congregation with jubilees to celebrate and their family and friends. 

Eddie said, "It was a real privilege to be asked to join Father Carl at this special celebration and it was wonderful to meet so many MSCs and in particular those who have long standing and strong links with Princethorpe including Fr Charles Sweeney, past Head, Fr Mick O’Connell, Fr Terry O’Brien, Br Donie Hallissey and Fr Pat Sullivan". 


Three Go Wild In France (Nearly)

When Old Princethorpians Tom Hilditch, Caspar Davies and St John White met up at the latter’s wedding in 2017, it was inevitable that following the nuptial celebrations an adventure was planned. The three former room-mates agreed to meet up within the year to navigate the waters of the Loire, explore the region’s fine wines as well as its historic chateaux – on two wheels.

By the time the agreed date in September 2018 arrived, Caspar had had to pull out of the trip due to a ‘once in a lifetime’ career opportunity in Budapest. Undeterred, the White: Hilditch duo pressed on with their trusty cycles, tightest Lyrca outfits and trusty Michelin roadmap. Stopping off at the Davies household for a sea front send-off meal (a wonderful gift from Tom’s legendary father George) the two pals set off for four days cycling from Nantes to Saumur and back again.

The weather was superb, the roads smooth (not a pothole in sight!) and the route along the majestic Loire river was delightful.

St John said, “Tom and I had a huge amount of fun during the trip. Now both over fifty, we realised how much thought we’d given to the kit we were wearing, our shoe selection and also the type of panniers we’d got for the trip. Typical MAMILS really!“

Cycling for hours along empty French roads allowed our minds to wander back to the early eighties when we were at Princethorpe. Often we’d go for hours reminiscing about musicals such as Agape, which was staged by a visiting catholic brother or Paint Your Wagon Teachers that came to mind that included Madame Jones, Mr O’Grady and Mr Reyneaux, as well as the college’s senior staff members such as Father Clarkson, Father Kennedy, Brother O’Rourke and the Skiffingtons.”

Fortified with great memories and several cases of fine local wines, St John and Tom returned back to Blightly, where Tom spent a few days catching up with friends and family before flying back to Hong Kong. Both agree that they’ll do another trip next year – this time with Caspar on board!

Pictured left Tom Hilditch and right St John White.

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Will Hedderwick Lands Hotly Contested Aircraft Engineering Apprenticeship

OP, Will Hedderwick has landed a hotly contested apprenticeship in Aerospace and Aviation Engineering. 

Will was selected from hundreds of applicants to take part, alongside 40 other candidates, in a skills day involving written tests and practical work.  Following on from that he was one of only 15 who were subsequently interviewed and was delighted to be one of only four who were finally offered the opportunity of an apprenticeship.

Will who left Princethorpe College in 2017 is now working for TUI Airways as a TUI Airways Engineering Apprentice.  The 4-year apprenticeship schemewill qualify him as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.

He is currently studying for a Diploma in Aerospace and Aviation Engineering at Stanstead Airport College and as part of the apprenticeship he will also be working at Luton Airport in the hanger during his studies.  Once he has completed the apprenticeship he will work on a variety of aircraft within the TUI fleet and will secure the Civil Aviation Authority Qualification as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.

Congratulations Will we are delighted to hear of your apprenticeship success. 

Jacob Stone

Jacob Stone has returned from his Medical Elective in Malawi, that we reported on in the last edition of the OPs newsletter.  Over the summer he graduated from university and he has since started as a first year foundation doctor at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.  He will be working four month rotations in Acute Medicine, Cardiology, General Surgery, Intensive Care, General Practice and Emergency Medicine.

Congratulations Jacob and thanks for the update.

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Josh Popham Says Hello From Brazil

Josh left Princethorpe in 2016 and went on to study Spanish and Portuguese at Queen’s University Belfast.  He is just beginning the third year of his degree and will be spending it abroad.  For the first half of the year he has travelled to Brazil and is making the most of an exciting opportunity to study and live in Rio de Janeiro.

Josh told us, "I’m studying here in Portuguese at our partner university Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro until December. Then I will move to Oviedo, Spain in January to study in Spanish. I am enjoying my time here so far and can’t wait to make more memories over the year and all while improving my languages!"

What a fantastic opportunity Josh - make sure you send OPs an update at the end of the year!

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Julie Habaoui's New Career Shows Off Her Creative Talents

Julie Habaoui taught at Crackley Hall, formerly St. Joseph's, for 15 years from 2002.  She left the school in 2017 to spend more time looking after her two small children, Aicha and Ali, and to pursue a career, which she had always wanted, being creative, handcrafting, upcycling and designing. Using new, recycled and pre loved fabrics she creates unique and individual items always mindful of the environment and sustainability.

Now based in Carmarthenshire she sells her work through her Facebook page - Aicha & Ali.  It offers wonderful, unique and bespoke work all created with time, patience, love and care.  There are dresses, bags of all shapes and size and plenty of Christmas goodies.

So if you are looking for something special why not take the opportunity to discover her special goodies at Aicha & Ali.

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Daniel Seeks Mechanical Engineering Work Experience

Daniel Dziurzynski is planning to study Mechnical Engineering at University and is looking for relevant work experience.

Would any Old Princethorpians be able to offer Daniel a work experience placement?

If you think you might be able to help, then please contact him on ddziurzynski@ymail.com