OP Updates

Former Foundation Archivist, Nick Baker, Ordained As Deacon

Former Foundation Archivist, Nick Baker, was ordained Deacon into the Anglican Communion by The Rt Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Loughborough, in a ceremony held in Leicester Cathedral on Sunday 27 September.

This was something of a ceremony with a difference, as ordinations usually take place in crowded cathedrals. With current Covid precautions, the two ordinands were allowed a total of four guests each, which meant that the clergy outnumbered the congregation, making this a very focused and personal occasion.

A keen collector of antiquarian and rare books, as well as a seasoned Dr Who and James Bond aficionado, Nick joined the staff at Princethorpe in 2014, having previously spent nine years with the historic collections at Eton College and later as librarian at Hereford Cathedral, where the mediaeval Mappa Mundi is preserved. In the three years when he was at Princethorpe he was able to firmly integrate the archive into the daily life of the three schools and found himself as custodian of several additional collections relating to St Mary’s Priory, St Joseph’s School, Abbotsford School and The Crescent School. An avid researcher and capable historian, he joined forces with Alex Darkes to author the book A Spirit of Family, charting the first 50 years of Princethorpe College, which was published for the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2016. Nick has also been a lively contributor to the Arts Society lecture cycle for the past six years and on duty for some of our Heritage Open Days. One of the great hallmarks of Nick is the way in which he was able to connect so enthusiastically and warmly with all of the Princethorpe community.

Nick first felt the call to ordained ministry in his late teens, but only started to explore it a few years ago, subsequently training for the last three years at the College of St Hild’s Sheffield centre. Nick joins the Wigston Benefice in south Leicester where he will serve his curacy with a team which looks after three churches. We wish him every blessing and happiness in his ministry.

Pictured left to right: The Rt Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Loughborough; The Rt Reverend Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester and Nick Baker after the ceremony.

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OP Simon Fisher Commissioned To The Grenadier Guards

After completing his studies OP and ex-Head Boy, Simon Fisher (Class of 2015), attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned in a somewhat scaled down parade at the beginning of April this year. He immediately joined his new regiment, The Grenadier Guards. At that time the Grenadiers were responsible for all of the mobile testing sites across London and as such, alongside his team of eleven soldiers, as part of Operation Rescript, Simon was straightaway set to work setting up testing sites across London. In total, while he was there, his team managed to test well over three thousand people. His was just one of many teams from across the Army, who were engaged in doing hugely valuable work across the country supporting the efforts of the NHS and the Department of Health.

Once the lockdown began to lift and some sense of normality returned, Simon then began his Phase 2 training which consisted of 12 weeks in the Brecon Beacons completing arduous infantry specific training. 

Simon said, "I never expected to be thrown straight into leading my soldiers on such an important task so soon after commissioning. However, the training and experience I received from as far back as my time at Princethorpe certainly stood me in good stead."

Simon continued, "The Army is often portrayed as a monolith in today’s society but I would be more than willing to offer any advice or answer any questions that Princethorpians may have about joining the Armed Forces. Please do not hesitate to contact me at: Simon.9fisher@gmail.com."

Many congratulations on your commissioning Simon, we were delighted to hear of your success and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

The Army's own report on the scaled down coronavirus commissioning parade can be read here.

Simon is pictured at work at a mobile testing site. 


Bethan Part Of Lightning Squad In Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy

OP Bethan Ellis, Class of 2017, is currently studying at Loughborough University and this summer she was selected to play for Loughborough Lightning in their 15-man squad for the Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

Bethan gave us an update, saying, “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic this year we played in a shortened professional regional competition called the Rachael Hayhoe-Flint Trophy. It took place towards the end of August and throughout September. I was selected as part of the Lightning Cricket squad, which represented the East Midlands, and played in the North League against Central Sparks, Northern Diamonds and North West Thunder. As a team we only managed to win two out of the six games but were involved in three very close matches that we unfortunately finished on the wrong side off. Collectively we played some very good cricket throughout the competition, especially as we were quite an inexperienced side. As an all-rounder I opened the batting and bowled in the middle/end overs.”

Bethan continued, “My highlights included opening the batting with Sarah Bryce, together we managed to post some strong opening partnerships, including 148 against Central Sparks and I personally finished on 62 in that game. Then throughout the tournament, playing both with and against current England players I learned a lot about my own game and I enjoyed the challenge of testing myself against them.”

Bethan finished, “Although it was a short competition it was a great experience and I really enjoyed being part of such a professional set up, and getting to play at some of the best grounds in the country.”

It all sounds amazing Bethan, it is always wonderful to hear of your success. We understand that you have been helping Foundation pupils too with your coaching support for the Warwickshire Girls’ Development Squad so thank you for inspiring them too.

Bethan is pictured playing in her Lightning matches and back when she was a Year 7 at Princethorpe too.

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Two Familiar Faces Return To Princethorpe

Two Old Princethorpians, Sophie Rejali and Megan Lewis (both Class of 2017) have returned to work as trainee teachers at their former school. Sophie is teaching Religious Studies whilst Megan is teaching PE, they are both training with the Lion Alliance.

Sophie started at Princethorpe in Year 7 back in 2010 joining from Crackley Hall School. She went on to study Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at the University of Birmingham. Sophie said, “All through school I wanted to be a teacher, and studying for my university degree only confirmed this.” Sophie graduated (at home) this summer and is now training to be a teacher on the Lion Alliance’s Initial Teacher Training Programme. She will spend time in school and at the University of Warwick to complete her training. Sophie continued, “After living in a big city at a university with thousands of people, it’s really nice to be back at Princethorpe with so many familiar faces. I’m really excited to be joining the Religious Studies and Psychology Departments to complete my teacher training.”

Megan first came to Princethorpe in early 2011 midway through Year 7, she was always passionate about her sport enjoying all of the different disciplines of offer at the College. Megan told us, "For the last three years I have been at Nottingham Trent University doing a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. I knew before I started that I wanted to go into teaching and ideally wanted to come back to Princethorpe to train. It’s really good to be back and has definitely made the start of my teacher training easier as I know how everything works and some of the staff!"

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

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Robert Seeks Experience On Big Boats

It was great to hear from Robert Hedderwick (who was at Princethorpe College from 2013 – 2018). Robert went on to study a BTEC in Engineering and really enjoyed the diversity and practical assignments offered on the course. He successfully completed his qualification this June.

Having always wanted to pursue a nautical career, Robert has recently completed the exams and training needed to work commercially on both yachts and sail boats. This included obtaining his RYA Day Skipper Certificate (both theory and practical), his Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Fire and Personal Survival, Fire Prevention and Firefighting qualification, his MCA medical certificate and two powerboat qualifications.

Robert told us, "I have always wanted to pursue a career working on boats and having completed my qualifications I can't wait to get started. I am keen to gain experience as a deckhand on either sailing boats or yachts anywhere in the world. I bring with me a hands on attitude, a willingness to learn and of course plenty of fresh strong coffee!"

If you have any contacts that could help Robert gain experience please do email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk and we will put you in touch.


Olivia Graduates From Liverpool And Leaves Princethorpe Too

Olivia Pope (Class of 2017) has been studying at the University of Liverpool and completed her degree this summer. Since then we have enjoyed welcoming Olivia back to Princethorpe in the summer to work in the school shop, helping to ensure all the incoming pupils into Crackley Hall, Crescent School and Princethorpe College were fitted out in their new uniforms.

This autumn Olivia has begun her graduate career working for Leicestershire Police, she told us, "I will look back at my time at Princethorpe, both in education and employment, with very fond memories and always be grateful for the life-long friends I have made."

Olivia's graduation was sadly cancelled but she shared a picture of her celebrating with her friend in their own mini-graduation outside the red-brick building at Liverpool!

Congratulations on completing your studies Olivia and the very best of luck with your new career.

Physiotheraphy Is Just Perfect For Grace

OP Grace Blackhall (Class of 2018) is now a second year BSc Physiotherapy student from UEA. As well as studying a relatively intense degree she is also the author of the blog learningtobeaphysio 

Grace told us:

"I love my degree, I would describe it as the perfect marriage between patient interaction and hands on treatment. Originally, I dreamed of studying Medicine but life events directed me towards Physiotherapy and I have never looked back. I would recommend my degree to anyone who wishes to work with others to help them or who is considering a healthcare career. The role of the physiotherapist has expanded over the years from musculoskeletal, respiratory, neurological and paediatric management to involvement in women’s health and recently to First Contact Physios. It is a rapidly expanding profession with scope to specialise in many areas."

She continued, "If anyone would be interested in learning more about Physiotherapy or would like advice about studying it at university please email me at: grace.blackhall@gmail.com."

And finished, "Alongside my degree and blog, I participate in three societies. Although this requires great time management skills, you can always find time to do the activities you enjoy."

It was great to hear from you Grace and to hear of your passion for physiotheraphy and thank you for your offer of support for anyone interested in Physiotheraphy.

It's All About The Guitar For Georgina

In the summer we heard from OP Georgina Dadson, Class of 2014. Always a talented musician, Georgina went on to study at the Birmingham Conservatoire and graduated in the summer of 2018 taking the prestigious Doris Newton Music Club Prize. Georgina then moved into Artist Management and worked for IMG Artists for two year. But her desire to play and perform always remained strong.

At that time Georgina told us, “I am looking to concentrate more on playing and teaching guitar and, once the lockdown is over, I want to perform with my voice and guitar duo, The Georgina Duo. I am part of the NYGE (National Youth Guitar Ensemble) Fellowship which is made up of people studying or recently graduated from music college. I joined the NYGE when I was in the Sixth Form at Princethorpe and it's what inspired me to go to music college, I highly recommend it.”

The National Youth Guitar Ensemble is open to students aged 12-25 and Grade 5 to diploma level and Georgina has offered to chat to any students that are interested. More information on the NYGE can be found here: nyge.org.uk.

We have since heard that Georgina has chosen to study a Masters and is now at Cardiff University.

It was really great to hear from Georgina, we hope your studies are going well and do let us know when you are next performing. 

Ben Oliver Launches Grad Canvas

OP Ben Oliver (Class of 2016) graduated from Cardiff University this year and launched a new platform to support graduates like himself. His new Facebook page Grad Canvas is a place to share advice and information informally to help all graduates unsure of their next steps.

Ben explains, “With the employment climate the way it is, I know for a fact that many grads are struggling. That made me realise the importance of using those around you to help you learn more about yourself. We all have contacts, skills and insights that others may benefit from."

Grad Canvas is his new community area for recent graduates entering the challenging COVID career climate. It’s a place where graduates can look out for each other and support each other whether by providing content, raising questions or offering advice.

Ben continues, “I know people need support so let’s use the networks we all have to help each other out. Regardless of your career interests, there may well be others looking in the same direction.”

Wanting to get as many graduates involved as possible Ben is reaching out to the Old Princethorpian community and if you are interested in finding out more about Grad Canvas then you can get in contact with Ben here.

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