OP Updates

What Has Happened To Hong Kong?

Dear Old Princethorpians,

What has happened to Hong Kong? A simple question that keeps most citizens up at night these days. I thought of this long and hard the past few days and concluded that there is no simple answer to this seemingly simple question?!

The simple cause, or fuse, if one chooses to believe, is the well intended proposed amendment of our law to allow extradition of criminals to face prosecution in Taiwan, China etc. How and who took advantage of the simple law amendment proposal and turned it into present political agenda since early June is way too complicated for my simple mind to understand. My daily readings from both sides only lead me to believe that fake news is a way of life these days, and there are forces at work behind the scene to portrait their 'truth' to the audience. I do not know what happened to unbiased reporting, but I am 100% sure the news agencies, from main stream newspapers to bloggers are mostly biased and often choose to report what fits the story that they are selling the public.

Since the supposedly most effective way to collect accurate unbiased facts is no longer available, it seems logical to collect as much information as possible, read both sides of the story, and then try to make sense of it? Unfortunately, the information available is so overweeningly unrestrained, it only serves to fuel the confusion! When one thinks to have 'seen it with our own eyes' when shown a video clip of an incident, usually one finds another 'truth' of the same incident recorded by another video clip?! Amazing video editing capabilities by some unsavoury characters, no doubt.

There are numerous theories as to who is behind this so called freedom movement that are equally confusing. From the initial claim on individual freedom and democracy seekers band together by a common cause, to cynical suggestions of the freemasons, the CIA, the Real Estate Barons, and George Soros wanting to destabilize Hong Kong/China in seek of political, economical, or personal gains. While the real truth might never be known or proven, my personal feeling is the analogy of the Great Migration in the Safaris - we do not know which spices started the movement, but the predators are sure to benefit from the event? May be Hong Kong just happens to be the feeding ground at the moment?

Looking externally for a reason can really get one's head spinning and keep you up all night. I tried. Maybe it is time to forget about external forces we cannot control, and start to think about what went wrong internally, in Hong Kong, among our brothers and sisters, our families and friends, our Government, our Legislative Council, our media, our education, our religious beliefs, and our legal system? How does a Police Force that ranks among World Top Five and have a approval rating of over 80% in Februaru 2019, become what the rioters choose to hate so much in just a few short months? How do some schools, universities, and religious institutions tolerate violence and sometimes even promote hatred? How come our dysfunctional Legislative Council failed to work with our Government for the people and by the people? How our Government failed in our long term plan and system upgrades such as housing supply, patriotic education, and law reform?

Again, too many why's with very little clear and simple answers. I am afraid this is undoubtedly the darkest moment of our city since the hand over in July 1997. As a law abiding citizen, and tax player, born and raised in Hong Kong, I can only state that it saddens and worries me enormously to see my beloved city, my home, my community under seige. While I have no idea on the real reason for such madness to continue. Do not understand how rioting, destroying public properties, and attacks on innocent bystanders can be the answer to anything. I am absolutely sure it will be a very, very long road to recovery, if we can recover, and the scar left will haunt us for generations.

When we attended Princethorpe, one of my favorite classes was Fr.Kennedy's Bible Study. Apart from the Irish coffee in the class, one of the class teachings that benefited me to this day is his teaching on faith and repentance. It seems fitting to me that we need to have faith in our resilience and love for our city, and we much seek for our future through repentance and self-reflection?

God bless and pray for Hong Kong.

Yours sincerely

Nelson Ngai (1979)
Alan Young (1981)

Owen O’Shea Shares His Rollercoaster Life Journey

Having just turned 40, Owen O’Shea who left Princethorpe in 1998 wrote to the Old Princethorpians over the summer, wanting to share his rollercoaster life journey with us and to reconnect with Moira Weir, his English Teacher who had so inspired him.

He is now Dr O’Shea and CEO and Principal Research Scientist at The Centre for Ocean Research and Education based in the Bahamas.  We were relieved to hear that Owen and the Centre had escaped largely unscathed from Hurricane Dorian’s rampage, though sadly many thousands did not.

Owen takes up the story:

I left England in 2002 to go travelling for a year and am, essentially, still on that journey. In this period, the longest I spent back in the UK was three months between October 2003 and January 2004.  

During these travels, I had learnt to SCUBA dive, and so became obsessed with the ocean and the concept that creatures existed and ecosystems thrived out of sight, beneath the oceans' waves. A kind of secret yet romantic notion of a hidden world, yet so fundamentally important for our own world. After around 19 months and 11 countries later I returned to the UK, and after a two-week stint in a call centre that consumed me with depression, and a yearning for the adventure I had just left, I accepted an offer to go stay with my mother who had since moved to Cornwall. I felt a change of the familiar, somewhere new with no historical record in my brain or memory would perhaps appease this overwhelming feeling of being just totally lost in life. 

I had left Princethorpe College in the summer of 1998 after six years, with average GCSE scores, two appalling A-levels, a suspension and a failed academic career at Thames Valley University where I was kicked out after one semester for attending zero classes or exams. So, come the autumn of 2003, I felt I was starting again, and the realisation that this was all my own doing - or lack thereof - was a harsh reality. 

The oceans and her creatures were the fantasies I withdrew into during this time; SCUBA diving in Cornwall, and developing my skills by taking further classes and reaching PADI Rescue diver became my goals and focus. And so, rather impulsively, one day, I made a decision to apply to study undergraduate Marine Science at university - in Australia (where I had spent the greatest proportion of my time travelling). 

I applied to ten universities all over the country for an anticipated January 2004 start. I was turned down by nine, considering my academic record at that point, and the fact I was applying as an international student. However, one university had recently (at that time) established a brand new program called 'Uni-Gateway' which was designed for people in my position - those without the A-levels, and so after speaking with the university an offer of enrolment was made for me to join their BSc programme with a major in Marine Biology, conditional on my taking and passing A-level Maths, Chemistry and English. The deal was I would arrive at campus two months before the semester started, and undertake these three courses as intensives, and subject to passing all three, I would be admitted into their Bachelors programme. Failure, at this point was not an option.

That school was James Cook University in Townsville, North Queensland, and later I would come to learn, probably the best in the world for undergraduate Marine Science.  

Never had I worked so hard: six days a week full time, plus additional evening classes needed for the Maths element, no respite, tears, beers and fears and an emotional journey like no other as failure of even one of these classes meant my visa would be cancelled and I would be back on the slow, arduous journey back home, and probably back to that call centre. But during this journey, I became engrained in a small group of people and we formed strong bonds; young people from all over the world trying to do the same thing as me. I was awarded an HD (High Distinction > 85%) for English, a C (Credit > 65%) for Chemistry and a P (Pass > 50%) for Maths. And so, my undergraduate Marine Biology journey started. 

I achieved one of the highest grade point averages in my third year, and was listed on the Dean's list of academic achievement. I had met a lady and became so obsessed with academic success, marine science and environmental conservation. Due to this GPA, I was invited to submit a research proposal for a post-graduate 'honours' program that is the equivalent of a UK MSc and I was successful in my application. So, in 2006 I graduated with a BSc with a major in Marine Biology from James Cook University and I then started my first post-graduate degree in January of 2007. I was married in March of 2007 and after a rigorous 10-month program of applied marine research, I wrote and submitted a 22,000 word, five-chapter thesis entitled 'The ecology of cleanerfish and their clients'. 

After a gruelling peer review process, an exit seminar and a poster presentation I was graded on my efforts and in December of 2007, I was awarded the highest honour for this program – A first class, and began working on my very first manuscript, which I submitted to peer review and eventual publication shortly afterwards (Tide-related periodicity of manta rays and sharks to cleaning stations on a coral reef). January 2008 saw my new wife - Michelle - and I move to Perth, Western Australia as she pursued her career in Hydrogeology, and I promptly got a position as a research technician at The University of Western Australia, and later started working for the Marine Ecosystems Branch of the WA government's Department for Environment and Conservation. We were approved for a mortgage, adopted a labrador from a shelter and I was awarded almost half a million dollars in international graduate scholarships to enable me to begin a PhD program at Murdoch University in Perth's southern suburbs, in a project sponsored by the Australian Federal Government's tropical marine research agency, The Australian Institute of Marine Science - AIMS. 

I had published the paper from my honours thesis - life was good. I started my PhD in March 2009 and after three years and ten months I handed in a 55,000 word, nine-chapter thesis entitled 'The ecology and biology of stingrays (Dasyatidae) at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia’. I presented my thesis to the American Elasmobranch Society meeting in Vancouver in 2012 and I was officially conferred in March 2013; publishing my entire thesis within six months. After several months of unsuccessfully applying for post-doctoral positions, academic tenure and marine consultancy roles, Michelle was made redundant, and so all of a sudden, we lost our home, security and slowly the fabric of our nice normal lives became frayed and cracks started showing in our marriage and our sanity.

We exhausted dozens of options on how we could pick ourselves back up and regain some traction, and then out of the blue a job opportunity found its way to my very empty inbox. There was a tiny island in The Bahamas called Eleuthera (derived from the Greek word 'freedom') and in south Eleuthera was a research institute and school, and they were seeking candidates with a PhD for position of Research Associate with the Shark Research and Conservation Program, with teaching commitments at their sister organisation and outreach on this tiny, agricultural island 300 miles east of Miami, Florida. 

I went through an exhaustive selection process, including three interviews and eventually I was offered the position some three months after I applied. After discussions with Michelle, we sold our car, all our furniture and pretty much 90% of our material possessions and packed our lives up into seven cubic meters of branded moving company boxes, sent Bob (the rescued labrador) on ahead of us with his own moving company (:)) and in June of 2013 we moved to a small, impoverished community called Deep Creek in the far south of Eleuthera Island, and I started work at The Cape Eleuthera Institute and Island School. In January 2014 I established my own research program with a focus on stingrays, started taking on graduate students from the UK and the USA, and undergraduate students from Newcastle, Plymouth and Exeter. In December 2016 I was promoted as director of the research program, but in January 2017 I handed in my notice due to a thousand reasons, but ultimately because I felt the time was right to establish my own organisation with a specific focus on providing education to the communities of this wonderful island in which I lived, to build capacity and share my passion for conservation – something really needed here.

And so, The Centre for Ocean Research and Education (CORE) was born. I worked an eight-month notice and during this time developed the website, wrote a business plan, started garnering interest and investment, and on the 1st September 2017, I left my professional role as a scientist after four years and two months and set up my own organisation - still on Eleuthera, but in a wonderful little community called Gregory Town, about two hours north and famous for its pineapples. 

Fast forward almost two years to August 2019 and I sit here writing to you. 

So, in the last two years since CORE started, we have gone from a concept and website, to an internationally recognised centre for excellence in marine research and education. 

We have a board of six directors from all over the world and recently acquired our 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, meaning we are a tax exempt public foundation. I serve as the CEO, Principal Research Scientist and Director of Education.

In our first full year of being open and operational (2018) we had almost 600 visitors, including students and visiting scientists come through our doors and I provided free education to almost 300 Bahamian children from the ages of 7 - 18. I currently have several undergraduate and graduate students, both Masters and PhDs, from all over the world, including the Netherlands, the UK and Italy. I am currently managing seven major marine research projects including assessments of seagrass, corals, seahorses, octopus, conch, turtles, sharks and stingrays. I have a fully functioning marine research station and community education centre where we host science events, community outreach presentations, classes and where visiting researchers and collaborators stay. 

We rely significantly on science and education grants, philanthropic donations, in-kind support and in 2018 we were awarded $6,500 in grant monies and we separately raised $13,000 through a go-fund-me campaign to get the building, and to establish our research station. Already for 2019, we have been awarded almost $70,000 in science and education grants to conduct our conservation driven marine research and deliver our education programs to the communities of this wonderful island. However, we are constantly trying to raise money to keep our doors open, fans and lights running, and eventually, one day the plan is that I can take a salary!  

My wife and I separated in 2014, were divorced in 2017 and we remain firm friends as she pursues her own journey in Sydney. I live way out in the bush with solar and rainwater, 100% off grid, with a wonderful Jamaican woman called Petagay and we are celebrating five years together this year. We have two acres, 70 feet of our own private beach and water front and Lenny Kravitz is our neighbour and huge supporter of CORE (seriously). Bob, the Labrador that I rescued in 2008, lives with us, and while he is portly and slow, he is still very much the sweet puppy I rescued 11 years ago.

Currently, I have over thirty published papers, articles and technical reports in peer reviewed, international science journals, including four more currently in review including my very first in the journal NATURE. I have presented my research findings at 15 international conferences since 2011. Have filmed Blue Planet with the BBC and had our work beamed live into over 7,000 schools across the UK as part of their high school learning that you can access here. We have also filmed documentaries with Nat Geo and WIRED and have also published several short documentaries of our own, that you can access here, that perfectly explains who we are and what we are about.  Our first ever annual review for 2018 can be accessed here. Currently, CORE manages projects, educational initiatives and collaborative partnerships with around 12 national and international organisations, universities, institutes and NGOs, including The Smithsonian Institution, The University of Tampa, University of Essex, University of Padova (Italy), Florida International University and the University of The Bahamas.

Our mission is simple: To involve Bahamian students and communities in the data collection process of an Applied Scientific Marine and Environmental Research initiative, that furthers our understanding of ecologically sensitive habitats, ultimately promoting the Conservation of Biodiversity, through Education and Outreach in The Bahamas. 

Turning 40 allowed this introspection, and I am lucky, of course, but I have worked hard, and some that knew me from Princethorpe might have said this whole journey would have been impossible. I hope others can find inspiration from this, by learning that anything really IS achievable if you back yourself and work your arse off. Personally? I am obsessed with cricket, love drinking beer, keep fit and active, have around 60% of my body tattooed, grew my hair out after shaving it for 22 years (starting at Princethorpe and immediately being challenged by Father Whelan), have a huge red beard and have turned into a bit of an old hippy who is deeply content in life. I get to swim in the warm, tranquil, tropical waters every day, teach young people the value of these resources, travel extensively for work, and dictate my own hours.

I was 13 when I started at Princethorpe; Father Sweeney was in his final year, before Father Whelan assumed the head role, and of course I remember Mr Darkes and along with Mr Philpott, Father Terry, Father Mike, Mr Skiffington and Mrs O'Keeffe who were among my favourite 'teachers'/adults. My all-time favourite teacher however, and one who continues to inspire me to this day and is the main motivational reason for me wanting to share my story with you is Moira Weir. 

My time at Princethorpe was tumultuous. I was popular, but academically inferior to almost everyone, was bullied a lot during my first year, but formed life-long bonds with people I now consider my brothers; James Ackrill, Chris and Nick Todd among many, I am still very close with. I felt that many teachers considered me disruptive or a bad influence and I am sure thought that I would make nothing of my life. Perhaps that is what motivated me and propelled me to achieve, albeit six years after leaving.

But, among every teacher, every negative relationship, every bad grade, or terrible life decision I made, including my three-week suspension, Moira Weir I felt, always believed in me, or at the very least believed I had something in me that was worth her time. I adored her, and still to this day, get emotional when I think about my classes with her, and how after all these years, I still think of her often and how she continues to motivate me to be the very best educator I can. I remember everything from her classes, still read TS Elliot's The Wasteland from time to time, and remember all of the Shakespeare we studied.

Thank you, Moira for your inspiration, your love and support and above all, your teaching.

If you would like to learn more about Owen’s work or get involved in his mission at the Centre for Ocean Research and Education click here.

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Laura Brazier Begins A New Adventure In Dubai

Laura Brazier, who left Princethorpe in 2014, updated us as she embarks on a new adventure.

"Having completed a degree apprenticeship at Mondelez International, I decided I wanted to embark on a new path within sales. My research led me to Allsopp and Allsopp, a real estate company based both here in Warwickshire and also in Dubai.

Having successfully secured a job in their Dubai offices I’m starting my new job today, Friday 4 October!

My first two weeks will revolve around training and passing my RERA exam. I will then get into the full swing of things.

It’s been a scary step moving into a new industry and also moving to a country, I have never even been to before.

However, I am very excited to see what the future holds for me at Allsopp and Allsopp out here in Dubai."

We wish Laura every success in her new role.

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OP Awarded National Teaching Fellowship

An eminent professor from Rugby and former Princethorpe pupil, has been given the most prestigious individual award in higher education.

Professor Richard Wilding OBE, who started at Princethorpe in 1976, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by higher education charity Advance HE following a rigorous selection process.

The Rugby resident – a world-renowned Professor at Cranfield University – was one of just 54 academics nationwide to receive the title, which showcases outstanding individuals who teach in UK higher education.

He said: “It is an honour and privilege to receive this national award.

“Teaching and education is not an individual activity, it also reflects on the dedicated professional colleagues I work with at Cranfield and within the logistics, transport and supply chain profession globally.

“Through our educational endeavours we have created significant economic, environmental and societal impact.”

Prof Wilding is Professor of Supply Chain Strategy at Cranfield School of Management and Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

Previously, when winning the Logistics100 award at the annual Logistics Awards in 2017, he said: “Rugby is a critical location for the logistics industry as recent investments demonstrate. I am incredibly proud to live in Rugby and support this industry here.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Cranfield’s Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is richly deserved recognition of Richard’s impact in his 20 years as a member of the Cranfield community.

“His expertise in the logistics, transport and supply chain management is recognised internationally and his contributions to the sector have continued to improve learning and teaching for the benefit of today’s students.”

Nominees for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme are peer-reviewed by teaching and learning professionals, and must provide evidence of reach, value and impact to students, and excellence within the teaching profession.

Each National Teaching Fellow has a role in becoming an ambassador for the scheme and supporting the ongoing enhancement of learning and teaching.

Alison Johns, Advance HE’s chief executive, said: “Becoming a National Teaching Fellow is a huge achievement. It can be truly life-changing.”

Prof Wilding will receive his award at a special ceremony in Manchester on October 16.

Three Familiar Faces Return To Princethorpe

Three Old Princethorpians, Meg O’Gorman, Sophie Jones and Lucy Butler are all adjusting to life on the other side, having returned to work at their former school, Princethorpe College.  Meg is teaching Religious Studies and Sophie and Lucy are training with the Lion Alliance, teaching Maths and Geography respectively.

Meg first came to Princethorpe in 2007 when she joined in Year 8, after she finished Upper Sixth she went on to Durham University to study History, English and Theology (Liberal Arts).  After graduating, she worked on the education programme at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, before working as a cover supervisor at a school in Harrogate and it was there that she decided to go into teaching.

Meg explains, “I studied for my PGCE at York University and then moved back home to Warwickshire and completed my NQT year at Bishop Ullathorne in Coventry.  I am really enjoying being back at Princethorpe and being part of the community again. It is great to work with some of my old teachers, although it took a bit of getting used to being on the other side of school life!”

Sophie started at Princethorpe in Year 10 and left in 2013 after completing A-levels in Maths, Chemistry and Physics.  She went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nottingham and then, for the last two years, worked for Atkins, an engineering consultancy firm, supporting their Aerospace, Defence, Security and Technology business.  This September she commenced her teacher training with the Lion Alliance.

Sophie said, “I’m really enjoying being back at Princethorpe and having so many fantastic teachers helping and supporting me with my training.”

Lucy joined Princethorpe for the Sixth Form.  In 2015 she went on to study Geology with Physical Geography at the University of Birmingham.  After completing her degree, she lived in south west Germany working as an English-speaking educator in a Kindergarten.  Now back in the UK she is training with the Lion Alliance as a Geography teacher,

Lucy commented, “Coming back to Princethorpe has been incredible – it really feels like I have come home.”

We have been delighted to welcome all three back and wish them all well in their new roles here at Princethorpe College.

Rob Rollason Graduates from Swansea

Rob Rollason has updated us on his success at university and his future plans.

He writes, "I finished at Princethorpe four years ago in June 2015, after finishing my A-levels. I secured a place at Swansea University, studying for a BEng Civil Engineering.

Swansea was named the 'Welsh University of the Year' by the Times Good University Guide for the second time in three years, as well as being in the Top 5 for student satisfaction (NSS 2018) and graduate prospects (Guardian University Guide 2020), and most importantly is the closest university to the beach in the world, with the relatively new Bay Campus, where I studied.

I graduated in July, with a 2:2, and have been working on the estates team at Princethorpe over the summer, before I go on my ski season in Alpes D’Huez at the end of November, where I will be working as a chalet host until April. I’m looking forward to this time off from studying before diving into the big bad world of work in the future."

Josh O'Brien Abseils For Alzheimers Research UK

Hard hats off to Josh O'Brien, leaver of 2013, who recently too part in a charity abseil to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

He comments, "I was part of team from Ricoh UK who all descended from the side of Broadgate Tower in London, which is the site of one of our offices. The building is 161m high and the descent took about five minutes, it was fantastic experience and the view of the London skyline was an added bonus.

"The team raised over £2,000 for the charity, which is a superb achievement for such a worthwhile cause."

Class of 1975 Annual Dinner

Lovely to see that the Class of 1975 Annual Dinners are still going strong. Melvin Glynn kindly forwarded this picture of the gang enjoying a catch up in London at the Royal China Club on Baker Street over the summer, thanks as ever to chief organiser Martin Holland.

Pictured are Melvin and his wife, Carole, Martin Holland, Philip (Clem) Clements, Lorenzo Argentieri, Peter Yang (Fat Jack), Rabbi Demelo, P.J.McCormack and Dominic Flynn.

Melvin also brought us up to speed on his company, which has now changed its name to Cheese Innovations, to better reflect their mission to bring excitement to the cheese world.

Lovers of the Golden Jubilee cheese, Princethorpe Blue, will be pleased to hear that it is still going strong, although mostly sold abroad in Malta, Lithuania, Spain and Canada. It can however be found stocked in some small shops in the south of England.

Trip Down Memory Lane For Lawrence Kwoh

Down Memory Lane - some things change, but some things remain the same. 

I attended Princethorpe from 1977 to 1980 when it was still an all-boys boarding school.  It was very different back then compared to what I saw when I visited the school on a bright and unusually warm May this year. 

As I got closer to the school, the imposing clock tower looked the same. It felt as if I had only left the school very recently. Once I stepped inside the front building, the atmosphere felt completely different. The décor was warm and I was impressed with the artwork from the students on the wall - very different from what I remembered. I was greeted by Melanie Butler who showed me around the front office. I also met Headmaster, Ed Hester and Bursar, Eddie Tolcher. The conversations flowed easily and we covered topics ranging from mutual school mates to the transformation that has occurred over the last few decades. It occurred to me that I had never had these kinds of easy conversations when I was in school, perhaps because I am older and I am not a student (in trouble!) sitting in the headmaster’s office.

Next, Melanie had arranged for Fr. Teddy O’Brien to graciously take time out of his busy schedule to show me around the school. For those of you who don’t know Fr. O’Brien, he was the boarding master while I was at Princethorpe. I actually recognised the sound of his footsteps before I recognised him as he walked down the hallway on the cobblestone floor where pictures of Old Princethorpians line up. I think it was from the days when we looked out for Fr. O’Brien in order not to get caught while sneaking around after lights out curfew.

A number of things caught my eyes as Fr. O’Brien showed me around: the chapel still looks immaculately maintained and updated and so is the inner courtyard. 

On the second floor, the boarding rooms now have been converted to offices. There used to be wash sinks outside the rooms where the boys would wash up and now they are gone. Again, I noticed the colour schemes. They seem much warmer in tone than what I remembered.

The cafeteria was the next stop. The food was much better than what we had in our boarding days in terms of the choices, quality and quantity. In the “good” old days, we had a gentleman who prepared meals with probably the assistance of two helpers for some 200 boarders. Looking back, it could not have been an easy job. I liked the round table seating arrangements which makes for better social interaction. We had rows of tables in those days.

I also noted the physical space is much better laid out and I enjoyed touring the new school building, the new gym and the theatre. I was sorry to see that the outdoor swimming pool no longer exists. Last but not least is the fact that the school is now a co-ed institution which would have been unimaginable in our boarding days, but a sign of the times.

I ended the day with a visit to Fr. O’Brien’s residence situated in a neighbouring village. It retains the charming quality of an English village which you normally see on TV, well, at least for someone who lives in the US. One last tidbit I’d like to share with my readers: when I showed the photos of the school, the school uniform and house ties to my daughter, she told me I went to Hogwarts School!

Lawrence Kwoh

Tom Ashley Leaver Of 2018 Takes to the Stage

I recently performed in two shows in the Camden Fringe, as part of my Fourth Monkey Training. This was part of a cult season 909, in which I played a character called Mickey. The performance was about Jim Jones and Jonestown set in the 1970s. My other role was in a performance about David Berg and The Children of God set in the 1960s.

I thoroughly enjoyed performing in both shows and my year spent at Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company. Having come straight out of Princethorpe, it was definitely hard to transition to London life, but the performing made everything worth it. Having never actually been in a show since I was in Year six, it was amazing and something I cannot wait to do again. I am extremely grateful for all the support I have had so far along my journey, however it is only the beginning...

Having graduated from Fourth Monkey, I am now out of training and back in Wellesbourne for the time being. I am currently keeping myself busy with self tapes and auditions, having signed with an agent. I am also auditioning for further training at three year courses at drama schools. 

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Visit Impresses Leavers Of 1980s

Earlier in the summer Ian Rudolph and Ian Ingram, leavers of 1987 and 1989 who work in London in the fields of architecture and chartered surveying respectively paid a long overdue visit to the College.

Ian Rudolph takes up the story: 

As a full boarder for seven years at Princethorpe in the 1980s, I have always seen the college as a place of my early formative years. Therefore, I remained curious about how the school itself may have developed. I recently visited the school for a comprehensive tour and enjoyed Friday Fish and Chips!

As a practising architect, who designs schools, I advocate that the building and education philosophy need to work closely together to create an effective learning environment. Our University of Cambridge Primary School and University Training School is a recent example of this happy fusion of architecture and education.

I was impressed that the modifications, improvements, and new additions to the college had not changed the character, spirit and atmosphere of the Princethorpe I knew. More importantly, the modifications create healthy places in which to learn. It’s good to see it remains very recognisable in most parts, yet magically disorientating as ever, as experienced in my first visit when 11 years old! 

A common challenge facing many independent schools is to adapt boarding accommodation into useful spaces for a day school, and also becoming completely co-ed (there were only a handful of girls in the Sixth Form when I was there), and it takes time for all phases to become established. But the educational transformation seems to be almost complete at Princethorpe.

Despite the changes, some areas instantly bring back memories; Switzerland is still as mountainous as I recalled on every cold and wet cross country run; and the library (previously the study hall) remains quietly studious whilst constantly uncovering the history of the old chapel.

I remember having to get to the next class on time, walking the corridors and meandering between buildings, and sometimes arriving late! The walk however brought a connection with nature which still remains, and I now feel biophilic design is essential for any educational campus.  It was great to see the grounds looking so healthy and cared for.

Good luck with the next phase and the new Science block.

Ian Rudolph RIBA

Visita Al Colegio Princethorpe - Contreras Brother Retrace Their Steps

We arrived back at Princethorpe on a sunny August morning with all our family, to show our children and partners the school where we spent five wonderful years in our teens. We met up with Melanie Butler, Chris Lee and Ed MacFetridge, who so kindly took us for a comprehensive tour of the school. It was not the first time that we have been back, but this time we saw significant changes to the school…

During our time at Princethorpe, the school had around 600 pupils and a boarder's section (where we stayed - as our parents lived in Spain), It is with nostalgia that we see that this boarder's section no longer exists, although we fully understand that it's a necessary evolution.

There are now around 900 students in a mostly renewed school, where older rooms and buildings are giving way to new or refurbished facilities. It was great to revisit our time at Princethorpe while commenting on old and shared anecdotes, visiting the chapel, sports-hall, dining room and orchard.

We were impressed by the new Sixth Form building (would have been great to have it back in our time), the updated facilities in the sports hall and the new Science Block project that is underway, it looks impressive and it will certainly bring added value to the school. It is also great to see how many of those members of staff that were there 25 years ago retain links to the school. Whilst the Spanish community keeps a close watch on Ed MacFetridge and Paul Adams, it was great to meet up with Mike Taylor, who is still Head of Geography and see that so many others are still very much involved with the College.

We will try our best to make it to other OP reunions, so that we can all catch-up. We plan to keep connected through the new Princethorpe Connect, a site which many of our other Spanish friends will use too.

Wishing the school the best in the coming years and all OPs, friends and Princethorpians a great start to the academic year!

Juan & Jose Contreras


Elliott Seal Looks Forward To Fifteen Years Reunion

I was the youngest of five brothers who all attended Princethorpe College. I left after completing my A-levels in 2005 and studied a degree at Cheltenham, where I met my future American wife. We were married in 2010 and Cat Burns, a former Head Girl, attended as one of the guests. We are now blessed with a daughter and three boys...possibly some future Princethorpians!

For the last ten years I have been working with three of my brothers in our family business in the Cotswolds, where I look after sales for our export business.

I have excellent memories of Princethorpe College and recently bumped into Mrs O'Keeffe, a former Deputy Head, at Birmingham Airport. She explained that the school has gone from strength to strength.

Next year will be 15 years since I left...maybe our Head Girl will arrange a reunion!

Callum Panton's Travels

On leaving Princethorpe in 2015 I gained entrance to Leeds University, where I began to study Biology. My first year was a rollercoaster ride and it took me a while to adjust to the studying and lifestyle. Once I had fully thrown myself into university life I really thrived, but my course wasn't working for me, so I switched to a Zoology degree to fuel my academic drive. Alongside this academic change I switched from a high involvement in the Snow Sports Society to rowing. I was on the Rowing Society committee and also trained 10 times a week. This helped me build on my passion for sport, which had begun whilst at Princethorpe.

My third year of university was more serious with my dissertation due and a lot of work. Rowing still remained a big part of my life, alongside snow sports, which made for a very productive year.

I graduated with a 2:1 in Zoology which was a very proud moment. After university it was time for me to follow one of my previously mentioned passions of skiing. Over the summer I undertook a cooking course to prepare me for a winter of chalet hosting. I then got a job with a ski company in Courchevel France where I lived for five months. In this time I hosted a 26 person chalet and skied every single day which was absolutely amazing!

Now back from my time in France, I am going travelling around South East Asia and Austrailia for an open ended period of time. This is both exciting and nerve racking, but I am looking forward to the next part of my journey.

OP Fred Dadson Starred In Mojo At The Waterloo East

We were delighted to hear that OP Fred Dadson, who left the College in 2015, starred in the fast-paced black comedy Mojo over the summer. Running for five nights in early August, the production took place at the intimate Waterloo East Theatre in London and saw Fred perform with the newly formed Dogs Out Theatre Company a group of upcoming young actors.

Fred played Baby the psychotic son of the club owner and radiated a menacing aura that gripped the audience as the story unfolded. It was an excellent production by all reports and it was great to hear of Fred's success treading the boards for the first time on the London stage.



Christian’s Hockey Career Started At Crackley Hall

We were delighted to hear that one of Crackley Hall’s past pupils, Christian Starkie, was selected to play hockey for Australia U21s. 

Christian attended Crackley Hall from 2007 to 2011 before moving on to Princethorpe College.  He started playing hockey in Junior 4 when Mrs Vaughan gave him a go in goal at an ISA hockey tournament.  Crackley won the tournament, without conceding a goal, and that was the start of his hockey career.

At Princethorpe, Hockey Coach Colin Dexter took him under his wing and he regularly played for the College and for Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club until April 2013 when he left the school as his family emigrated to Perth in Western Australia.

Over the years, Christian has represented Western Australia at Under 15, Under 18 and Under 21 levels as well as playing for the senior State team.  In April 2018, he represented Australia at the Oceania qualifiers for the Youth Olympics in Papua New Guinea and then in October he played in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In May Chrisitian was selected to play for Australia in an eight-nations invitational tournament that took place in Madrid in June.

Christian’s father, Neil Starkie, shared his news, he said, “Christian’s hockey career started back at Crackley Hall and grew with the brilliant coaching from Dex – Christian knows how much he owes to his coaches in those early days.  Since arriving in Australia his hockey has gone from strength to strength.”

Christian, it was great to hear of your success and to know that it all started at Crackley Hall.