Alumni News

Fr Teddy O'Brien MSC Goes High-Tech With Virtual Mass

Fr Teddy O’Brien MSC, Director of Boarders in the 1970s and currently the Parish Priest at St Anne’s, Wappenbury was delighted when so many OPs were able to join him virtually for the Christmas Eve Mass.

Never willingly giving up an opportunity to keep in contact with any OPs, Fr Teddy enlisted the help of the College IT and maintenance teams to set up the College Chapel for the Mass. Pews were re-arranged to be socially distanced and Covid secure and IT equipment and wide-angle webcam were positioned to best advantage. It was disappointing not to have the Chapel full for the celebration. However, parishioners who had reserved a seat in good time were able to participate.

Looking forward to the season of Lent, Fr Teddy has prepared a calendar of virtual events. If you would like to keep up to date with the parish the Weekly Bulletin can be found at

Fr Teddy also celebrates a virtual Mass every day from the Prayer Room at St Anne’s at 9.30am via Facebook. You can also use the link to take part.

Fr Teddy sends best wishes to all the OPs and looks forward to offering everyone Mass in the College Chapel as soon as it is safe to do so.


Princethorpe Reconnects With Old Friends In Hong Kong And The Far East

On Tuesday 17 November the Old Princethorpians Association hosted a virtual reunion for former pupils from Hong Kong and the Far East. Joined by Princethorpe College Headmaster Ed Hester, former Headmaster Father Alan Whelan MSC, former Director of Boarders Father Teddy O’Brien MSC, former Director of Boarders and long-serving and much loved teacher Sean Philpott and lifelong Princethorpian and teacher Alex Darkes – the virtual reunion included Mass from the Princethorpe Chapel, a virtual tour of the school, a Quiz and a delve into the Princethorpe archives.

The evening began with a welcome from the Headmaster and from Alan Young, who heads up Old Princethorpians in Hong Kong. We were joined on the call by OPs from Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, Cambodia and Australia, as well as the staff team dialling in from a drizzly and overcast Princethorpe College.

Alex Darkes’ Princethorpe Quiz proved a hilarious highlight – with the unofficial prize being announced as an all-expenses paid afternoon tea courtesy of and in the company of Sean Philpott (presumably post-COVID restrictions!).

Old Princethorpians excitedly shared their news and caught up – with many telling of their lifelong and lasting friendships from their time at Princethorpe.

Melanie Butler, Old Princethorpians’ Secretary said, “The reunion was a wonderful chance to catch up with our friends from Hong Kong and the Far East again. The warmth of feeling towards their former teachers and the school, after all these years is testament to the experiences and friendships they made here. It was a pleasure for us to organise and the many messages of appreciation and thanks we’ve received from the attendees have been a real delight.”

Here are just some of the comments received:

“Thank you all for a treasurable evening. It never ceases to amaze me that much of the school grounds remain so familiar after all these years. Thanks for bringing this nostalgia to life for us.”

“Many thanks for hosting today’s virtual reunion. I look forward to visiting Princethorpe when I am next in the UK.”

“Thanks to Alex for the virtual tour, especially the store room in the Tower, it brought back many memories of the band practices we had there!”

“What a lovely catch up, thanks to all you guys who organised it. The Princethorpe spirit at its best!”

“Thank you everyone, wonderful chatting on Zoom with you all, it certainly brings back some fond memories. Never thought I would attend Mass at Princethorpe again!”

OP Jordan King Gives Sixth Formers An Insight Into His Life In Motorsport

Professional racing driver, Jordan King, returned to his old school, Princethorpe College, on Thursday 14 January. It was a virtual visit, because of the lockdown, but the welcome Sixth Form students and staff gave Jordan was just as warm.

Jordan attended Princethorpe’s Sixth Form and left the College back in 2012 to pursue a career in motor racing, a sport that he said ‘has put a smile on my face’ from the day he first sat in a go-kart at Mr Karting on Harbury Lane, just south of Leamington Spa.

Jordan’s talent and indefatigable drive have taken him from Karting through Formula 3, on to GP2, then IndyCar, World Endurance and the heights of the Indy 500 and Le Mans. An incredible career for a 26-year-old.

Interviewed by College top motor sport fan, Head of Maths, Sharon McBride, who could scarcely contain her excitement, Jordan spoke to Sixth Formers and staff about his life in the competitive world of motor racing. He answered questions with generosity and candour and his anecdotes helped students understand the preparation, practice, determination and resilience required to be so successful in his chosen sport.

Jordan spoke about the importance of the wider racing team, a close-knit community who work alongside him and the hard work and attention to detail that goes in to preparing cars and drivers for a race. He explained his work ethic, how he ‘always wanted to forge his own career’, how ‘his life is his work’ and ‘the days are long but thoroughly enjoyable’. He also talked about the fitness and endurance required to compete at this elite level and about how he manages mentally with the dangers drivers face.

Jordan clearly enjoyed his enthusiastic audience and the questions that came thick and fast, commenting, “It was really great to reconnect with Princethorpe, I am still in touch with many of the friends that I made there. The teachers were always supportive and friendly and I enjoyed all the subjects I studied but I particularly enjoyed the sport – it appealed to my competitive nature. I remember Mr McCollin once asking me ‘Do you play tennis?’ and when I replied yes, he said, ‘Great you’re in the team’ and that was it, off I went to Warwick to play in a match!”

Our thanks go to Jordan for such an informative session and for answering our students’ questions. The College has many connections with the automotive industry. Last term Head of Brand Marketing at Lotus Cars and OP, Nigel Bromley visited the school, and last year we welcomed the CEO of Lotus Cars and former parent, Phil Popham, together with world-famous British Jaguar car designer, Ian Callum CBE. Such visitors are great role models for our students, inspiring and encouraging our young people to follow their dreams.

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OP Jonathan Gullis Speaks To Sixth Formers About His Journey To Becoming An MP

Old Princethorpian Jonathan Gullis MP joined us virtually on Friday 3 December to talk to Sixth Form students about his journey to becoming a Member of Parliament. From the inspiration of his former History teacher, Dr Simon Peaple, through his experiences as a local councillor and then on to the process of selection and finally election success, his talk gave an interesting insight into the ambition, dedication and hard work required to achieve his ‘dream’.

Jonathan also took time to answer Sixth Form Politics students’ questions, gamely facing our very own trainee Paxmans with fortitude. A whole range of topics were discussed from the ‘levelling up’ agenda so important to his own constituency, to the COVID tiers, the impact of COVID on the parliamentary process, the impact of the party whip on democracy, mental health, who his favourite Prime Minister was and lastly his own plans for the future.

Politics and History Teacher, Abi Adams, said, “Huge thanks go to Jonathan for taking the time to speak to the students and for sharing his fascinating insights into the work of a politician. It was such a good session that we ran out of time before we ran out of questions.”

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In Remembrance of St Joseph's Convent School, Kenilworth Facebook Group

St Joseph’s Convent School is one of the legacy schools of the Princethorpe Foundation and is much beloved by its former pupils. St Joseph’s was a girls’ school that catered for pupils across both the Primary and Secondary age, and it has a long history with its origins going back to the nineteenth century. After losing their Coventry home in the Second World War the community was offered Crackley Hall by Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Davenport Siddeley, and in January 1945 St Joseph’s Convent and School moved to Kenilworth.

St Joseph’s merged with Princethorpe College in 2001 forming the Warwickshire Catholic School’s Foundation and the older girls moved across to the Princethorpe site. St Joseph’s focused on Nursery to Year 6 pupils and became co-educational and in 2004 the school was renamed Crackley Hall, reflecting the original heritage of the school site.

The In Remembrance of St Joseph's Convent School, Kenilworth Facebook Group was formed in May 2007 as a place to remember St Joe’s. Originally intended only to enable a reunion between the 1993 leavers the Facebook Group has grown over the years and at the start of the year hit the milestone of 700 members.

Community admin Kathy, commented on Facebook

“As we welcome our 700th member tonight I'm reflecting that this group was originally created around 13 years ago to simply enable a reunion of our year group (1993 leavers) and to share the loss of The Gables and senior school. One after another of us added someone from a close year and now, here we are today. Over the years I've been pleased to reconnect as old friends joined and absolutely amazed to see old girls here from as far back as the 1940s. It's been a real gift to see your photos and read your memories. Thank you so much for sharing.”

The Facebook group provides the St Joseph’s alumni community a place to remember and celebrate their school’s heritage. Members include teachers and parents as well as old pupils. It also offers our Foundation archivist Janette Ratcliffe a super source of information for her work to preserve the history of all the legacy schools.

New members are most welcome and you can find the Facebook group here. The group is private but anyone with a connection to the school can join, you just have to complete a few questions first.

Kathy continues, “In the last few years we have been getting requests from children of ex-pupils and staff wanting information and memories of their parents. I am fascinated by their stories but realise that we actually now hold a significant archive of photographs. I believe that we should offer more information about the history of St Jo’s, and have contacted the Foundation Archivist to see if we can work collaboratively.”

It really is fantastic to have such a strong source of history for this much beloved school. Do please share details of the Facebook group with anyone you know who may be interested in joining the community.

College Artists Recognised In Prestigious ISA Regional Art Competition

Recent Upper Sixth leavers, Dominic Turner-Burr and Sebastian Lloyd-Thomas have been awarded prizes in the Independent Schools’ Association’s prestigious Midlands Regional Art Competition.

Dominic’s winning work, titled Fighting Back, was part of his A-level portfolio. It took first place in the Key Stage 5 Photography category. His striking image explores the challenge of managing the negativity that people experience in their daily lives. It depicts how using numbers and codes helps people to identify and label different coping strategies.

Sebastian’s stunning painting, Interpreting The Signs took second place in the Key Stage 5 3D Class. Sebastian investigated ‘Vanitas’, still-life paintings including symbolic objects designed to remind the viewer of their mortality. Building on his studies his work comments on the world in the wake of COVID.

Princethorpe College Head of Art, Paul Hubball, applauded the prize winners, “These results reflect the depth of talent we have within our school. This year we were limited to only one entry per category, so we were especially pleased that two of the four works we submitted received a prize.”

Dominic’s work has gone forward to the ISA National Art Competition, the judging for which takes place this month.

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OPs To Play A Central Role In College Careers Fair 2021

The College's Careers Fair 2021 will provide a ‘one stop careers shop’ thanks in part to the support of the Old Princethorpian network.

The event, postponed from last year, and now taking place virtually, will take place on the morning of Saturday 20 March.  Current parent, Dr Charlotte Cowie, Head of Medicine at the Football Association, has kindly agreed to be the keynote speaker and a host of careers and professions will be represented.

Comments Head of Careers, Jacqui Quinney, "We have had a great response from Old Princethorpians, who alongside our parents are forming the backbone to the Fair. We have some speakers from previous events who have kindly agreed to speak again and new speakers helping us for the first time.”

Thanks to the many OPs involved including Liam Jarrett, Dan Lane, Nigel Bromley, Joel Stephenson, Laura O'Hanlon, Lucy Williams (née Coulson) and Tom Cross. 

There will also be a number of universities speaking who will be providing ideas and advice.

Headmaster, Ed Hester comments, "We are really indebted to all the OPs who have volunteered their time and energy to make the Careers Fair a success for our current Year 10 to Sixth Form pupils and their parents."

If you would be interesting in helping with future Careers events, please email

OP Friendly Faces Support The Next Generation Of OPs

Despite the restrictions of the pandemic we were delighted to be able to introduce ten new students to an OP Friendly Face during the Michaelmas Term. In universities across the country, including Liverpool and Bristol, the students enjoyed the benefits of a friendly face whilst settling into their first year.

The scheme links 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. So we are looking to get more OP Friendly Faces on board to widen the support network of OPs in universities across the country for the leavers of 2021.

Many of our current Upper Sixth are receiving offers and will shortly be choosing their first and second choice destinations, so it would be good to know soon who is willing to give them on the ground advice and tips. 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.

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, " We now have OP Friendly Faces in around 35 university towns and cities and would like to expand on that again this year so we can 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



The Princethorpe Connect Community Just Keeps On Growing

Princethorpe Connect, the Foundation’s online alumni community, now has 687 members and we are hoping it won't be long before we hit the 700 membership milestone and can hold another membership milestone prize draw!

Aimed at past pupils, past parents and former staff, Princethorpe Connect allows the Foundation's alumni to find and network with old friends and former colleagues from across the Foundation schools and to keep up with all the Foundation's news and events. 

The Foundation is keen to re-engage with all former pupils, parents and staff from all of the Foundation's legacy schools so please do encourage those you know to register. They can do this easily themselves by going online to and you never know they might be the lucky winners in our next membership milestone prize draw!

New Mentoring Platform For OPs Goes On-Line

A new mentoring platform, has gone online within Princethorpe Connect. The platform allows Old Princethorpians to connect with other alumni and the wider Princethorpe Community to network and seek professional advice.

The mentoring platform currently features over 150 featured mentors who are happy to provide advice to others in the Princethorpe Community. Those looking for a mentor can search based on industry area or employer and send a mentoring request through the platform.

We hope the mentoring platform will be of help to recent Old Princethorpians, but also to those already established in their careers who are looking to expand their professional network.

The mentoring platform is free to use and you can find out more here.

New App For Princethorpe Connect

The Foundation has developed a new app for Princethorpe Connect. It is available to download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for iOS and Android devices and brings all of the features of Princethorpe Connect to your smartphone or tablet.

You can connect with old friends, share your news, sign-up to events and receive updates from Old Princethorpians. For now, you will already need to have an Online Profile to use the app and sign in. You can register for a profile through the main website here:

Version 2 of the app is being rolled out early in 2021 and which will include new features such as: registration through the app and integrated online payment options (for events, donations and the online shop).

To download simply search ‘Princethorpe’ in the search bar of the App Store or Google Play Store to download to your device. The app is brand-new and although it has been thoroughly tested, please do report any user issues to