OP Updates

Chloe Eastabrook Is In The Final Year Of Her PhD

OP Chloe Eastabrook (Class of 2012) took time out from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Europe 2021 conference to share an update on her life since leaving the College. She told us:

Since leaving Princethorpe in 2012, I graduated from Newcastle University with a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology, winning the Longbottom Memorial award for the highest research dissertation mark and publishing this work as my first journal publication. Shortly afterwards, I began a PhD in Marine Biology focusing on ecotoxicology. I am in the final year of my PhD, based across Newcastle University and the Norwegian Institute of Water Research (NIVA) in Oslo (as a part of the MixRisk project). NIVA have hosted me for a year during which I conducted research in their world class ecotoxicology labs. This has been an incredible experience travelling to and living in Oslo as it is a beautiful city with fantastic way of life.

My research focuses on the complex but hot topic of chemical management in our oceans and what happens when we pollute them with multiple chemicals that cause stress to marine organisms and microalgae. One aim is to understand how these chemicals are causing death and reduced reproduction by working out what’s happens at the molecular and cellular levels after exposure. I do this work with two marine species, a copepod Tisbe battagliai and a marine microalgae Tetraselmis suecica.

I am currently looking for jobs in ecotoxicology research following my PhD, and I am hoping to continue work with ecological risk assessments with practical applications and regulatory impact. For now I am enjoying living in Newcastle with my boyfriend who is also in his final year of his PhD, and we are excited to see what comes next following graduation.

OP Declan Kiely Recognised In The Times As One Of 2021 Top Rated Financial Advisers

OP Declan Kiely was thrilled to be recently listed in The Times and The Sunday Times as one of the top rated financial advisers for 2021 in the UK. He was singled out in the Vouched For 2021 Top Rated Financial Adviser Guide that was part of Saturday 10 April’s edition of The Times. What a fantastic achievement!

We caught up with him to find out what he has been up to since leaving the College back in 2008.

Declan takes up the story here:

After leaving Princethorpe I continued my education at a local grammar school in Leicestershire and then decided to pursue a career in industry rather than attend university.

I have been working in Financial Services since 2015, I started with little experience but a passion for wanting to help people, learning about finance and how people can manage their wealth. I began as an administrator and gained the necessary knowledge on the job to progress through the roles within practice I am associated with.

After two years I joined an internal academy for the next generation of financial advisers to complete my qualifications and to learn more about giving financial advice. Following my successful graduation from the academy I started the process to become a financial adviser. After passing the required checks with FCA (Finacial Conduct Authority) I was appointed in January 2019.

Since then I have spent a lot of time building my client base through networking, professional connections and client referrals. I currently have over 100 clients ranging from young entrepreneurs starting their financial planning journey to much older clients completing theirs, advising clients on different milestones throughout their financial life.

My next ambition is to setup my own financial planning practice from the start of 2022. Which seems quite daunting now, especially the prospect of employing staff!

I am very passionate about financial education and empowering people with the necessary tools to take control of their finances from a young age.

The past year has presented huge challenges for everyone and personal finances are at the forefront. Educating young people about debt, investing and the power of compound growth will only benefit them and their families in the future.

It was fantastic to get back in touch with Declan, and to hear news of his career, clearly his clients rate him and we wish him well with his plans for his new business.

Declan appeared in the Vouched For Guide that rates Financial Advisers on their client feedback and featured advisers with the highest volume of positive 2020 client reviews. You can find out more about the guide here.

We are very much hoping that Declan will be free to talk to pupils as part of their post exam sessions sharing his insights into financial planning for the future.

Tom Pillings' Short Film Controller Nominated For Four Awards

OP Tom Pilling's (Class of 2014) comedic short film Controller, made during the lockdown has so far being nominated for four awards. It’s brilliant and hilarious and, if you haven’t seen it already, then we recommend you watch it here: https://youtu.be/_osh7dQa5lA

After graduating from Kingston University, Tom went on to work in video production and, over the past few years, has established himself as a Director of Photography working mainly on television adverts. One of his most recent jobs was a TV ad for the Alzheimer's society with the wonderful Sir Tony Robinson.

During the lockdown, filming came to a stop and he spent a lot of time working on editing jobs and live-streaming, but as he was a lot less busy than normal he took the opportunity to make a short film Controller. It was a two-person crew consisting of himself and his partner Frankie, who is also in the industry.

In the film Sarah, who is just about to turn in for the night, suddenly finds her evening much more entertaining than anticipated. Is it cause and effect or is there is a far more whimsical reason? Begging the question, who or what is the controller?

The film is on the official selection for the 7Colours International Film Festival 2021, the London Shorts 2021 and the Phoenix Shorts 2021 and was a semi finalist for the Sunday Shorts Film Festival 2021.

Tom commented, “When life gives you a lockdown, make a lockdown lemonade and this was our lemonade. We are working on two more scripts and we plan to keep entering competitions to see how far we get so do keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming shorts: Sneezes and Braces ... yes, they are as odd as they sound.“

Huge congratulations for us all here at Princethorpe Tom. We loved your film!

OP Dr George Thien On His Motivation To Write A Book

Dr George Thien (Class of 1979) shared an update on his motivation to write his first book, Just Do More, An Option to be Above Average. He takes up the story here:

Every time Princethorpe College is mentioned, three names come to my mind instinctively; Fr Clarkson, then headmaster in 1977, and my first ever room-mates in the first floor corridor whose names I remember as Jeffrey Nego and Noel Ruddy. Of course, there are many other memories and experiences from those teenage years that had and are still developing me as a citizen of the world. For example, the culture of encouragement to do more in order to excel; so that instead of doing a minimum of four O-level subjects, we were encouraged to do more, I did ten, and reaped the benefits when I applied to enter my first University, as well as when I applied for the jobs during my young adulthood.

As with the common expression, "Everyone has a book in her or him", I too have a book in me. My book came and went many times over the years for many reasons - "It has been written by someone else," "I don’t have the time to write," "Who would want to read my book?" "I will wait for a better book idea," "I need to be financially independent first.” As fate would have it, the Covid 19 lockdown situation in 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand provided a space in time for me to action this book in me and make it a reality.

There were two key motivational initiators that prompted me to start writing the book. First, after teaching for about 17 years at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), I have received many ‘surprise’ emails from ex-students thanking and complimenting me over the years, not only about how I delivered the subject content but also about how I had motivated them even through their work-life. Obviously, I felt and feel very encouraged in this teaching vocation, so the Covid 19 situation somehow moved me to extend my motivation philosophy to others who are not or have never been my students. Second, a specific incident that involved my youngest daughter and her motivation in relation to her badminton ambition was really what sparked me to "put pen on paper" or "click words on computer." There was an incident when I was making preparation to deliver a topic about theories and concepts of ‘Motivations’ when my daughter, Farah lost a semi-final match in a national badminton tournament. I knew she had an ambition to be a badminton champion, and I also knew that she did not quite believe that she could be a champion, and from what I could see, she had not put in much extra effort in her journey to become a champion; just average in her context. It was a God’s will moment for the two moments to happen that initiated me to start writing a motivation book to help people who wish  to be Above Average and beyond, not just in badminton or sports, but also in their career advancement, business journeys, and other ambitions or goals (such as to be more healthy). Thank God, and Farah.

The rest, like they say, is History.

The targeted audience or readers for the book are those who are planning to achieve ambition or goal(s), as well as those who may need reminders about the critical factors that are involved in the journey towards the successful achievement of ambition or goal(s), so that their lives can be better, and consequently bettering the lives of those around them. The book is also very useful for those who have missed out on achieving their ambition or goals and would like to reflect on what to focus on in their next journey, or even the resumption of abandoned journeys.

George's book is available to buy on Amazon here.

Here is the extract about my bio from the book.

Dr George Thien (PhD, MBA, BSc (Hons))

Since joining academia more than fifteen years ago, Dr Thien, a Senior Lecturer has taught papers in various disciplines, such as the professional Masters paper, Managing Organisations and People, and coordinated the paper,Management of Small-Medium size enterprises (SMEs), and supervised students in undergraduate and post-graduate studies. In addition to his academic teaching at a university, Dr Thien’s area of  research  and publications  (peer-reviewed  academic  journals)  is related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and entrepreneurship. To supplement his academic pursuit, Dr Thien is actively involved in business mentorship for SMEs (in conjunction with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce) as a volunteer. Dr Thien is also a trustee for the Community Action Trust New Zealand (CATNZ), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that organises national and regional cultural events. Dr Thien is a Past Leader/Chairperson of the Auckland South East Asian Community, an NGO that  organises  cultural  events  for the public in Auckland. He has evaluated/judged national and regional business competitions in New Zealand. Prior to joining academia, Dr Thien’s business experience includes the following: Branch Manager of a commercial bank, Manager of a Merchant bank, Lead Auditor of AOQC International, ISO9001 Consultant,

Business Consultant/Trainer, Business Franchisor/ Franchisee, Director and business owner. Dr Thien holds a BSc (Hons) degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from universities in the UK, and a PhD in CSR from a university in New Zealand. With the unique combination of academic qualifications, teaching, and practical business-related experience, Dr Thien has much to share and contribute to the community.

Amy Cook Shares Her Love Of Physics Through Storytelling

OP Amy Cook (Class of 2017) has been sharing her love of science through an initiative called Physics Through Storytelling an outreach project with The City of Edinburgh Libraries. Amy is studying Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh and, despite being in the midst of her finals, she has very kindly taken the time to tell us about the project.

Amy’s two passions are Physics and English and she has used her skills in both subjects to write two stories and produce a series of activities to help make Physics more accessible to the wider Edinburgh community. Forces Fiona And The Laws Of Motion and Spaceman Sam And The Solar System introduce key scientific concepts in a simple and engaging way.

The stories have been shared on the Children & Young People at Edinburgh Libraries Facebook page and are great introductions to the subject of Physics.

You can listen to Amy reading the fabulous Forces Fiona And The Laws Of Motion here and super Spaceman Sam And The Solar System here.

Amy has also written a blog post on the library website which tells you more about the initiative and why she took part, that you can also read here

Amy told us, “The response to the project has been very positive overall and I even heard that Sophie Rose, in the Physics department at Princethorpe suggested she would use one of the stories in a Year 7 lesson sometime soon! I am currently in my fourth year of an Astrophysics degree at The University of Edinburgh and am staying on next year to complete my Masters. After that I am hoping to either go into patent attorney work or potentially complete a PhD. We shall see what the future holds.”

It was great to hear from Amy and to find out about her creative outreach work and we think she should keep writing as that could be another career option for her too!

Dani Black Captains Khalsa Leamington Hockey Club Into The National League

We were delighted to hear that local hockey team, Khalsa Leamington Hockey Club Ladies 1st XI have been promoted to the National league. The team is captained by OP Dani Black (Class of 2009) and also includes OP Ella Bromley (Class of 2017).

The Ladies section of the club has been trying to get into the National League for five years but have narrowly missed every season. They started this season back in August 2020 with lots of uncertainty due to COVID, and an unconventional pre-season period where were they had to train in groups of no more than six or individually.  The season began well and by the second lockdown the team had six wins from six games.

Dani explains, "Just when momentum was high we were put into a second lockdown and were unable to train as a team or play any games – there was no information on whether we would even be able to play the remaining games of the season. As a squad we were determined to make sure that, if we were given the go ahead to be able to play, we would be fully fit and ready to give our best performance. During the period of uncertainty we had weekly Zoom meetings focussing on tactics and match analysis and also fitness sessions."

"When lockdown was over we were ready to go and fight for promotion once again, however we were then given the unfortunate news that no more competitive matches would be allowed but the silver lining was that, due to finishing second in the league last season, and also winning six out of six of our games, we would be awarded promotion into the National League. The whole club and squad are delighted with the news and very much looking forward to what the new season will bring."

As Captain, Dani was instrumental in keeping the team on track, organising weekly Zoom meets ups, leading weekly fitness sessions and offering welfare check ups throughout the lockdown. She also set group fitness challenges and targets.

Away from the hockey field Dani is a Sports Science teacher and has her own small honey/bee keeping business - The Warwickshire Honey Company which you can find out more about here

View Gallery

OP Ian Higham's Online Performance Of The Weir

Back in February we shared news that Old Princethorpian, Ian Higham (Class of 1981), was directing an online play, The Weir by Conor McPherson, performed by Putney Arts Theatre. The drama was set in a pub in rural Ireland and involved a publican and three of his regulars who attempt to spook a newcomer from Dublin but end up frightening themselves. The production went out live on Thursday 25 February. 

Ian left Princethorpe in 1981 and after a degree in Drama and English has worked in theatre ever since, for the last twelve years as sales manager for the UK’s leading independent theatre publisher Nick Hern Books. He has worked for Putney Arts Theatre, south west London’s leading community theatre company, for over thirty years and directed over thirty productions there, having been Artistic Director from 2013 to 2016.

Comments, Ian, “The Weir was unusual for me in that it’s an online production, working with actors distanced at home with just their laptop cameras to create a believable and involving drama. It was watched across the world by old Princethorpians in Hong Kong, Chicago and New Zealand. The most international audience I’ve ever had.”

We certainly all enjoyed the performance here!

Peter Griffin's Latest Cycling Challenge

In May 2017 a hardy group of 30 ‘pilgrims’ set out from Princethorpe to Issoudon, France, the home of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart with the aim of cycling the 100+ miles from Issoudon to Montargis, where the Benedictine nuns that built St Mary’s Priory, now Princethorpe College, had originated. The cycling challenge was one of the highlights of the Golden Jubilee celebrations and raised thousands of pounds for the College’s main charity – Mary’s Meals. The French cycling pilgrimage was such a great success that two years later, in May 2019, plans were made for a second trip, this time to explore the Loire valley, cycling from Saumur to Amboise. Most of the original pilgrims immediately signed up and they were joined by several new adventurers. Despite a few hiccups and accidents this trip was another great success with a marvellous time had by all.

On both occasions the ’routemaster’ in chief was Peter Griffin, who most will remember from his time teaching at the College from 1978 – 2015.  Peter spent months planning the routes to minimise the use of main roads and maximise the pleasure to be enjoyed by all participants. On their return there were many calls for a third trip to be planned for May 2021.

Sadly Covid put pay to such plans causing Peter much frustration! However, in recent weeks he has set himself the challenge of planning a route from Princethorpe to his daughter’s home in Kent, via his son’s (OP Christopher – Class of 2004) home in London, a distance of over 130 miles. To avoid the capital’s main roads he has planned a route using 30+ miles of the canal network and he trialled this successfully last week. Originally Peter had planned his journey to coincide with Father’s Day in June but due to family commitments he now hopes to complete his challenge in July, probably over the course of 3-4 days. If there are any intrepid cyclists who would like to join him for a leg of his journey then Peter would love to hear from you.

View Gallery

OP Alasdair Spencer Swaps The Stage For A Syringe

OP Alasdair Spencer (Class of 2012), one of the world’s best Irish dancers, has swapped the stage for a syringe and has been busy giving life-saving coronavirus vaccinations.

Alasdair who is better known for performing as Don Dorcha the Dark Lord in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance – has been playing a key role in the fight against Covid-19 by volunteering at Rugby’s vaccination centre at Locke House in Woodside Park.

Alasdair was out in China on the Lord of the Dance world tour last January when the virus first surfaced and when the pandemic grounded the ongoing Lord of the Dance world tour, he decided to help his home-town out.

He applied to be a volunteer vaccinator and completed all the vaccination training in January and has been kept very busy since.  He even met Headmaster, Ed Hester, at the centre when it was his turn for a vaccination.

His work was reported on in the local paper earlier this year and you can read the article in full here.

We say many thanks to Alasdair and all his fellow volunteers for all they are doing for us all.


Imo Is Running The London Marathon

April is traditionally London Marathon month, with runners from all over the country, including usually a number of OPs, converging on the capital to pound the pavements in aid of their chosen charity. This year, like last, the London Marathon has moved and will take place in October so all the lucky runners get to train in the summer sun rather than hitting the roads on dark, cold and windy nights.

One such runner is OP Imogen Butler (Class of 2018) who is rising to the challenge of this year’s test of endurance for Sarcoma UK. Imogen is running in memory of a family friend Ellen, who sadly lost her battle with sarcoma cancer last year.

At school Imogen was a swimmer who spent many hours training in the pool until a knee injury put paid to her ambitions. After leaving Princethorpe, Imogen went on to study English Literature at the University of Leeds and is currently in her final year. She is, however, very much a novice runner who only started running last year during lockdown when she completed the Couch to 5K. So alongside working on her final modules and completing her dissertation Imogen is slowly building up her distances and is aiming to run the Leamington Spa Half Marathon in July.

Imogen’s old Sixth Form Tutor, Assistant Head (Co-curricular), Neil McCollin, was delighted to hear about Imogen’s marathon plans, commenting, “Imogen was such a tenacious and determined swimmer who often represented the school. I am so delighted that she has overcome her injury and is now rising to the challenge of a new sport. I know her enthusiasm and positive attitude will really help her when she takes on the London Marathon. I will be willing her on all the way as she tackles her marathon challenge.”

Anyone wanting to support Imogen can visit her fundraising page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ImogenButler2


OP Rob Rollason Will Train With The Lion Alliance

OP Rob Rollason (Class of 2015) will be returning to Princethorpe in September to train as a teacher with the Lion Allaince. Rob will be teaching Physics and he gave us an update on what he has been doing since he left the school.

"After finishing at Princethorpe in June 2015, I went to Swansea University to do a BEng in Civil Engineering with a foundation year, which I absolutely loved. While at university my time was split between studying, the Welsh Officer Training Corp, the Swansea Snowriders (the snow sports society) and playing for the Swansea Uni RFC. I graduated in June 2019 and then went on to do a Ski season in Alpe D’Huez, my first season was unfortunately cut short by Covid and a second season was put out of the question by the second wave, but I definitely feel I made the most of my time there. Luckily Princethorpe came to the rescue when they ofered me a job on the Estates team. 

I have been thinking about doing teaching for several years, wanting a job which is practical, sociable and with lots of variation, which I think perfectly suits a constantly changing classroom. While working at the school during the lockdowns I made the decision to go for it. Physics was one of my favourite subjects at school and after studying engineering at university I have been practicing the skills used in Physics on a day to day basis. Hopefully, it shouldn’t be a too hard for me to apply them to a teaching role and pass on those same physics skills to students."

We are looking forward to welcoming Rob as a trainee teacher. He is pictured here at Crackley Hall where he has been working within the Estates and Grounds Team.



Sophie Takes On The Leamington Half Marathon

OP Sophie Marrow (Class of 2018) is also taking on a marathon challenge. Sophie is running the Leamington Half Marathon in July, in memory of her good university friend Tom Miller. She is raising money for the Adult Intensive Care Unit that looked after Tom at the Queen Medical Centre in Nottingham.  

However her half marathon run is going to be an especial challenge, for although Sophie was always a sporty person, back in October 2020 she was involved in an accident breaking her back in three places and injuring her brain. Sophie was also cared for by the Queen Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she underwent spinal surgery receiving amazing treatment and care from all the staff. 

Sophie said, "I spent four days in the same hospital as Tom receiving the very best care and spinal surgery. It took me months to recover and I can’t express how grateful and appreciative I am of my abilities since my accident."

Sophie has been training steadily and is looking forward to taking on the challenge.

Anyone wanting to support Sophie can find out more on her donation page: 

We wish the very best of luck to Sophie!

Clark McCallum Launches The Futures Life Coach

OP Clark McCallum (Class of 2013) has a new life coaching business launched at the end of last year. He shares details of his business and his motivations behind it here:

Anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of motivation and limited self-belief are just a few of the challenges that face teenagers as they develop over those crucial years. As a teenager myself I faced adversity with the unexpected death of my father followed by a significant period of depression and anxiety that had a significant impact on my teenage years. With the support of Princethorpe and personal mentors I found a formula which allowed me to overcome my adversities and achieve academically and in my adult life. Over the last seven years I have gained vast amounts of experience in the fields of Education, Elite Sport and various Personal Development arenas working with young people with gang affiliations, severe anxiety challenges, those dealing with grief and with complex additional needs.

As a qualified Life Coach and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) enthusiast I have made it my mission to ensure that the challenges of anxiety and limited self-belief are not only addressed but the foundations for future success are embedded to help ensure young people have the opportunity to be high achievers. In late 2020 I set up a Life Coaching business and personal brand of ‘The Futures Life Coach’ to work with teenagers and their parents to enable their ambitions in life to be achieved.  

My new business ‘The Futures Life Coach’ provides 1 to 1 Life Coaching programmes for teenagers and/or parents working with them to break down barriers and achieve their desired outcomes. These sessions are totally bespoke and I believe can be truly life changing opportunities.

I am also about to launch an online course for parents called the ‘The Confidence Creator’ providing parents with tools that I have developed to  implement with their own teenagers to reduce anxieties and help grow a confident young person with a vision and desire to succeed

My mission is to give as much value to people as possible and a lot can be found on my social media platforms @thefutureslifecoach (Instagram) Clark McCallum - The Futures Life Coach (Facebook) so if you are interested please give those a follow and feel free to drop me an email on thefutureslifecoach@gmail.com.

View Gallery

OP Marco Is Raising Money For Blood Cancer UK

We spotted on Facebook that OP Marco Di Maria (Class of 2007) is also taking part in a fundraising challenge. Marco is raising money for Blood Cancer UK by taking part in their My London To Paris fundraising challenge this May. He is cycling the 300 miles distance from London to Paris across the month.

Marco told us, “I’m doing the challenge as I lost my Grandmother to this awful illness, and I wanted to raise something for the charity.”

You can find out more and support Marco here.

Good luck Marco, we hope it all goes well!