Alumni News

A New Normal For Princethorpe

Princethorpe, like the rest of the planet, has been adjusting to a 'new normal' over the last few weeks.

In the run up to lockdown parents and pupils received regular communications on the latest government advice, how to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and the importance of handwashing and hygiene generally. At break and lunchtime pupils were supervised sanitising their hands and the legendary Princethorpe cookies were individually wrapped. The usual busy school calendar was impacted, with sports fixtures gradually cancelled and events and activities postponed as the virus took hold.

Even the Chapel was forced to close, after one last wedding, and Mass conducted by Fr Teddy O'Brien had to move online.

The Foundation schools eventually closed their doors to pupils, on government orders on Monday 23 March and our home learning programmes commenced immediately. The drive and playground were empty of cars and the school was eerily quiet as it opened for only a relatively few children of key workers and the staff needed to support them. 

Our pupils in Year 11 and Upper Sixth had to come to terms swiftly with the news that after all their hard work they would have no public exams this summer, and no end of year celebrations, with their results based on predicted grades provided by school and moderated by Ofqual.

The majority of our support staff were furloughed as part of the government's job retention scheme and the campuses fell silent. Over the Easter holidays, much work went into communications with parents over home learning and discounted fees and a Hardship Fund was set up for those struggling the most. Our dedicated teaching staff, essential to providing the education for our pupils, adapted lessons, learnt new IT skills and became adept at Microsoft Teams and streaming live lessons, before the Trinity Term commenced again in earnest.

Our pupils have coped brilliantly with home learning, supported by their parents who now have a greater appreciation for the teaching profession. They follow their online timetables, producing exceptional work, participating in House challenges and Tutor Time remotely. The Prefect Inauguration, House Cup, Spring Concert and Winter Sports Awards went online. Assemblies, staff briefings and careers interviews continue, the Year 11s have started pre-courses for their A-levels and BTECs and our staff are working harder than ever to maintain continuity in these uncertain times.

A small Grounds team continue to look after the Foundation sites, tending cricket pitches, mowing lawns and keeping the campus looking beautiful for our return. The Mile Walk has been resplendent with bluebells, lambs and calves have been born and nature has continued oblivious to what has been besetting the human world.

Even the OPs termly Committee Meeting was conducted via Zoom!

We are now approaching half term, the pupils are starting online end of year assessments and following the Prime Minister's announcement about the easing of lockdown, the Senior Team are making plans for Year 10 and Year 12 and staff to safely return on Monday 1 June in line with the government's guidelines. Our Junior Schools, Crackley Hall and the Crescent, will of course be welcoming back Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children too.

It has been an unprecedented episode in Princethorpe's rich history, we have had to rely extensively on our 'spirit of family' during these testing times and we know that it will probably be a long time before things are back to normal and we can welcome everyone back into the fold again as we would like to.

Until then, our message to all has been keep well, keep in touch and stay safe.



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First Ever OP Virtual Event Voted A Big Hit

We had a great response to our first ever OP Virtual Event - a Quiz Night held on Friday 15 May 2020 with attendees videoconferencing in from around 30 locations. The event replaced our London Meet which has had to be postponed to March 2021 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Participants from across the decades included former pupils and parents from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and beyond, current staff and former teachers Peter and Liz Griffin, Ed MacFetridge, Greg Hunter and Robert Startin. Dedicated Hong Kong and Asia based OPs Alan Young, Vitus Leung and Anthony Ku even stayed up until the early hours of the morning to join us.

The fun kicked off at 8.00pm, with two quiz sessions with an interval in the middle and the final quiz-goers signed off from the call at around 10.30pm.

Hosted by Headmaster Ed Hester over Zoom, the quiz tested general knowledge, vehicular, sport, film and musical know how in seven challenging rounds. The final round related to all things Princethorpe and a tie breaker of ‘your funniest memory of Princethorpe’ put an additional 20 points up for grabs.

There were several strong teams in the field - special mention should go to the Johnsons, the Rogers family, John Sage, the Campbell/Potters, Moira Rollason, Eddie and Ann Tolcher, the Dodds, the Sharpes, the Roberts and the McBride families.

When it came down to the tie-breaker however it was between the O’Gormans (Lee, Paddy and Meg), who had been very strong contenders from the outset, and the leavers of 2013 (Dan Lane, Chris Bond, Lucy Tallis and Carmen and James Simpson). The 2013 leavers’ memories of Mr Hester in the sports hall on the exploding space hopper, was judged as the ‘funniest Princethorpe moment’ and gained them the extra 20 points they needed to clinch first place with a fantastic overall score of 74 points.

Well done to all the participants, we were delighted to be able to get everyone together via the wonders of Zoom and hope that a good time was had by all.

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The Class Of 77 Stay In Touch Through Zoom

The Class of 77 have kept pretty much in touch ever since we left the school. We are spread all over the globe now but, for some reason, we have always stayed in touch. Back in those days, two thirds of the pupils were boarders and many were from overseas or with connections to the forces. Possibly the bonds built by actually living together 24/7 may have been stronger, who knows, or maybe we are just lucky.

Not particularly skilled in Maths (sorry to the Fathers Teddy O’Brien and Dan O’Connor!), we worked out that it was about 50 years ago that we all met at the age of 11 and we decided collectively to try and get together at the OPs Summer Supper Meeting in June this year. Little did we know that a pesky virus would intervene!

We started planning our anniversary meeting over a year ago and plans progressed at two or three get togethers since then (two of which were 60th birthday celebrations) and the hope was to have a whole weekend of events.

When it became clear that the planned reunion was unlikely, Robin Abeyesinhe set up a virtual Zoom reunion five weeks ago and this has become a regular weekly feature. This Friday will be our fifth 'virtual' get-together.

We have had participants from the United States, Mike Halloran, Anil Patel and Dinu Patel; Ernest Springley joins us from Germany and the rest of the usual suspects are British-based; Mike Nagaur, Mike Loughnane, Ian Brown, Marc Marot , Andy Frain , Robin (host) and myself. We even had a guest appearance from my brother; yet another Mike! The latter has mastered the art of a virtual green screen background!

Ironically, we've probably got closer using this format than we would have if the real get together had not been thwarted when, through force of circumstances, several would have been unavailable to travel.

At the moment, we don't plan to stop these meetings and it will be interesting to see how things develop. Watch this space; and perhaps some of the other Year Groups might like to try setting up similar online meetings.

Peter Rollason
OPs Chairman

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Record Numbers At OPs Rugby Pub Meet

The Old Princethorpians’ Pub Meet at Inside the 22 in Rugby on Friday 6 March, was the association's most popular pub meet ever with well over 50 OPs and Old Crescentians in attendance, including current and former members of staff.

At our last event before the lockdown, there was a lovely friendly atmosphere as OPs from across the decades socialised and caught up with each other's news over drinks and a delicious buffet. The leavers of 2014 were once again out in force including former Head Boy, Paddy Mills and Head Girl Hannah Brindley, plus strong contingents from the Cahill, Lowe, Hedderwick, Hilditch and Lea families.

Our next gathering was due to be the London Pub Meet at Balthazar in Covent Garden, this has by necessity been reformated into an OPs Virtual Quiz which takes place this evening, Friday 15 May. See the Events Section for joining details if you would like to partcipate.

To see further pictures from the Rugby evening login to Princethorpe Connect here.

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Calling all OPs Based In Hong Kong And Asia

Hong Kong based OP Alan Young (1978 -1981) who was appointed Old Princethorpians' Chairman For the Hong Kong and Asia Chapter, following the College's successful visit to Hong Kong in 2018, would like you all to get in touch with him to be part of a dedicated WhatsApp group.

Alan acts as the principle contact with the College, encouraging connections between OPs in Hong Kong and Asia, contributions to our newsletter and reaches out and engages with any OPs that we have lost touch with or who are not yet involved in the association.

The new WhatsApp group will be used to facilitate communication and future gatherings within the region.

If you would like to be included please message Old Princethorpians and we will send you his WhatsApp details!

David Jones' Creative Countryside Tribute to NHS

We absolutely loved this amazingly creative countryside tribute to the NHS by arable farmer and Old Princethorpian, David Jones.

David, who was at the College from 1986-1991, now farms near Stratford-upon Avon. He and his family have built their business up to 2,700 acres, growing, wheat, oil seed rape, spring beans and spring wheat. David recently won a Royal Society award for practice and development in agriculture.

Talking about the tribute, he commented, “I sketched the plan on paper and used the old tramlines as a base line at 32 metres apart. Then put some scratch marks in as a guide. I drove the tractor free hand as I did not have the time to programme all the GPS."

He continues, "The film was shot in one go by my good friend James Arbuckle Photography who then kindly edited it all ready for the next day. It’s already had over 55,000 views on different platforms and the most rewarding part is to hear from NHS doctors, nurses and specialists that it has given them a boost after what was a very tough week for them.”

Hats off to David and the rest of the Princethorpe farming community, who are all doing so much to put food in our supermarkets and on our tables during the crisis too.

Click here to view David's creation.

Joy For Princethorpe Connect 400th Member

Congratulations to Joy Fletcher (Joy Crosby) for being our 400th online member on Princethorpe Connect, our online alumni community.

Joy, who now lives in sunny Devon, was a pupil at St Joseph's Convent School from 1980 -1985. It's fitting that a former pupil of St Joseph's helped us reach this milestone, in March, when the school was celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Joy was delighted to hear the news when we contacted her to let her know she would be receiving a gift, commenting, "Wow, that’s great I never seem to win anything!". The Foundation organised for a lovely spring bouquet to be delivered to her home in Devon.

The Foundation is now well on its way to the next major milestone of 500 online members on Princethorpe Connect.

Using the link below, you can join in, so sign up and get connected, you never know you might be the next lucky one!

Bilton Silver Band Entertain Us With Joyful Renditions

We just had to share this joyful video rendition of Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music by the fab Bilton Silver (Rugby) Band, put together by Princethorpe and Crackley peripatetic brass teacher and Old Princethorpian Jodie Fisher.

With social distancing putting paid to their normal rehearsals they came up with this imaginative way of bringing them all together to make their fantastic music and make everyone smile.

The video also features Jodie’s mum and fellow brass teacher Di Fisher, who teaches at Crescent School. You might be able to spot a few more familiar Foundation faces too.

We think you’ll have to agree they are brilliant and make a cracking sound!!
Click here to view the video

Also getting in on the amazing musical video act is Bilton's Silver Training Band, with their fun rendition of 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' from Mary Poppins. Lots of familiar Crescent faces here too, well done everyone for keeping spirits up. Just don't ask us to spell the tune's title!!!

Click here to view the video.

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Princethorpe Undertakes Its Largest Ever ‘Keep in Touch’ Initiative

In March our Princethorpe Connect Team embarked upon a huge 'keep in touch' exercise, attempting to track down and reconnect with as many ‘lost’ Old Princethorpians as possible.

This is the first time the College has undertaken such a huge exercise, attempting to contact thousands of former pupils, former parents and former staff. We have received hundreds of replies and have been touched by the many warm and interesting responses from people across the Princethorpe community who we haven’t heard from for many years.

So far, we've had over 800 returns and been able to update all of those records.

If you’re the parent of a former pupil, please do encourage them to update their details so we can stay in touch with them. They can do this easily themselves by going online to

Award Winning Painting Now Hangs In Reception

2019 Upper Sixth leaver, Helena Lintott’s award-winning work ‘The Gift’ has recently been hung in the College’s main reception. Her stunning painting was created for her A-level in Fine Art last summer and subsequently took the top spot in the prestigious Independent Schools’ Association's National Art Competition, in the Over 16 Paintings category.

‘The Gift’ refers to the Three Graces who in Greek mythology are the personifications of beauty, charm, and grace; they were the daughters of Zeus and were given these ‘gifts’ by him to bestow on the world. Her work is a superb, striking painting and was a well-deserving winner.

Once the College is open again, this remarkable piece of work will be on show for all visitors to the College to enjoy.

An amazing legacy to us all from an exceptionally talented young artist.

Latest Princethorpe And Me Billboard Unveiled

In March the College was delighted to see its latest advertisement unveiled on the Radford Road in Leamington Spa. The 48 sheet billboard features Old Princethorpian, Murray Wells, and is the next in the series of the College's ‘Princethorpe and Me’ advertising campaign.

Murray left Princethorpe in 2014 and went on to study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire. He always wanted to be an engineer, and when the opportunity arose, he jumped at the chance to work on the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project, working to set a new Land Speed record. There he was lucky enough to work with some of the UK’s very best engineers. After completing his degree Murray then went to work for McLaren Automotive as a Quality Engineer.

Since he left Princethorpe, Murray has returned to the College on several occasions to talk to Sixth Form and Design Technology pupils about his exciting career and he was delighted to feature in the latest advert and play his part in inspiring the next generation of Princethorpians.

Help OP Friendly Faces Support The Next Generation Of OPs

We are looking to get more OP Friendly Faces on board to widen the support network of OPs in universities across the country ready to help the leavers of 2020.

OP Friendly Faces aims to link past pupils established at university with first year OP students. Providing a friendly, familiar face to meet up with over a coffee (compliments of the OPs) or having someone to call in their new uni town or city, does, we know, make for a smoother experience in those first few weeks away from home. 

We are hoping that many of those who were helped last year will be prepared to be a Friendly Face this year, and that many of those already signed up to help will also be prepared to continue.  We are particularly looking for help from the leavers of 2019.

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We have OP Friendly Faces in around 30 university towns and cities and would like to expand on that significantly this year and get more of our leavers matched up for the new academic year."

If you are interested in becoming an OP Friendly Faces for this year's Upper Sixth leavers please email by Friday 26 June 2020.



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