Alumni News

Telethon Success Sees Princethorpe Reconnect With Hundreds Of OPs

During the Easter holidays Princethorpe College undertook its first-ever telethon, aimed at getting back in touch with Old Princethorpians and former parents of the College to catch-up, update them on our news and ensure we can stay in touch in the future.

A team of 13 recent leavers from 2015 to 2020 totalled nearly 700 hours of conversations with nearly 600 alumni and former parents being spoken to during the two weeks of the campaign.

The telethon was undertaken remotely with the call team doing their work either at home or university – from Glasgow to Bristol and supported by colleagues from Buffalo Fundraising Consultants.

Our callers were told many stories of years past from the 1960s onwards and also enjoyed catching up with more recent leavers and hearing how many of them are getting on at university or work.

The College would like to extend its thanks to all who participated in the campaign – especially our wonderful call team of recent leavers, as well as those from the Princethorpe community who took the time to give us their thoughts and feedback.

Michael Gucluer (OP 2018), who was part of the call team, said:

“The telephone campaign has been challenging but also really useful for developing interpersonal skills. It’s been great working from home and being able to engage with Old Princethorpians, many of which I was friendly with at school or had an indirect affiliation with. Miki from Buffalo was brilliant - keeping us entertained and always being available to answer any questions and for her inclusive attitude in virtual calls.

“A particularly funny moment was an Old Princethorpians’ story of antics in Austria where a group of them were berated by the fathers for nearly missing the flight home!”

Esme Down (OP 2019), who was also on the call team, added:

“I’ve really enjoyed doing the telethon campaign. It has been wonderful to chat to so many different people and to hear that the caring ethos of Princethorpe has been prominent throughout its history.

“People I’ve spoken to have such fond memories of the school and still feel a great affinity with it. It’s been especially interesting for me to chat to Old Princethorpians who have gone on to work in the scientific and medical fields. It’s been a privilege to be able to give back to Princethorpe and show my appreciation for my time there.”


Spanish OPs Virtual Reunion Proves To Be A Real Family Affair

Following a flying visit by Old Princethorpian, José Contreras to the College in March, a Spanish OPs Virtual Reunion was suggested, with the aim of gathering together as many of the Spanish former pupils from the 80s and 90s as possible.

Former languages teacher, Ed MacFetridge, who is in regular contact with his old Spanish charges via WhatsApp, leapt into action and in no time at all a date and time was set for Saturday 24 April at 8.30pm Spanish time.

Nine former pupils joined the Zoom call, along with host Alex Darkes, Headmaster, Ed Hester, OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler and Archivist, Janette Ratcliffe.  Also on the call were members of staff, former Headmaster, Fr Alan Whelan MSC, former teachers, Paul Adams, Peter and Liz Griffin, Bernie Moroney and of course, Ed MacFetridge.

Ed Hester invited the OPs to introduce themselves and what they are doing now, plus any memories they wanted to share with the group. Most of the group are still based in Spain and all have successful careers. Tall tales were told of Spanish football prowess, extra English lessons, the confiscation of illicit Spanish food and weekly calls home from the telephone box in the main corridor. Several of the group spoke of their initial homesickness and the warmth the whole group continues to feel for former Matron, Ann Grant, who they described as ‘our second mother’, was also very apparent.

Amongst the good-humoured exchanges and banter, what quickly became clear was that in true Spanish style a Saturday evening, even one conducted over Zoom, soon becomes a family affair. Alfonso Lechuga’s small daughter made regular appearances during the evening, along with some of Jose’s eight, yes eight children. Some of the wives also got in on the act, but the highlight of the evening had to be when the three Contreras brothers, Juan, José and Javier, were joined on the call by their remarkable nonagenarian mother, a phonetics expert, who in her excellent English, explained how her boys came to become pupils at the College.

After a look into the archives from their time at the school, the fun-packed evening came to a happy close with an invitation for our next Spanish OPs meet to take place at Francis Megias’ luxury hotel on the Costa del Sol. That sounds like an offer we can’t refuse!

Also on the call were Rafael Layna Fernandez, Santiago Lasa, Julio Monsalve and Gerardo Perez.

Muchas gracias to Ed MacFetridge for his invaluable help in organising the evening.

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New Clubs Feature On Princethorpe Connect

A new feature recently added to Princethorpe Connect are Clubs for our Hong Kong, USA and North America and Spanish Old Princethorpians.

If you would like to join one of these Clubs, visit Princethorpe Connect, go to Clubs and click on Join Now for the one you would like to join, then get connecting with your fellow Club members and share your news!

If you would like us to set up a Club for your group please let us know by emailing

The Bluebells Are In Bloom

Springtime is the season for wildflowers and here at Princethorpe that always means bluebells. The bright violet-blue perennials carpet the woodlands around the College site every year from late April to late May. They are at their best now, so we had to share a few pictures. For many of our Old Princethorpians they are a reminder of their time at Princethorpe, and we hope that they enjoy the photos. It's always a joy to see them bloom and, as always, they look just magical.

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Princethorpe Sixth Former Awarded Top Honours In Prestigious ISA National Art Competition

Recent leaver, Dominic Turner-Burr has been awarded first place in the Key Stage 5 Photography category of the Independent Schools Association’s prestigious National Art Competition.

Dominic’s winning work, titled Fighting Back, was part of his A-level Photography portfolio. 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.

His work took first place in the Regional ISA Art competition back in November and Princethorpe College Head of Art, Paul Hubball, is delighted that Dominic’s work has gone on to take top spot in the national event.

Paul comments, “Many congratulations to Dom, he was a worthy recipient of this award. His entry was exceptional and is a product of the many hours of work he put into it. It is marvellous to see his talent rewarded in this way.”

This recognition is also a testament to the depth and range of talent in Princethorpe's Art and Photography Department.

A huge well done to Dom!

Stateside Virtual Reunion A Very Convivial Affair

On Saturday 27 February the Old Princethorpians and Development Office hosted their first ever OPs in the Americas Virtual Reunion bringing together former pupils now located in the United States and North America and it proved to be a very convivial affair. The Stateside OPs were joined by a contingent from the UK including Princethorpe College Headmaster Ed Hester, former Headmaster Father Alan Whelan MSC, former Director of Boarders Father Teddy O’Brien MSC, lifelong Princethorpian and teacher Alex Darkes and the Chair of the Old Princethorpian Committee Peter Rollason.

The virtual reunion included a Blessing, a virtual tour of the school and a fascinating chance to delve into the Princethorpe archives. It also included plenty of time for former pupils to swap stories, share photos, reminisce and to renew their connections with each other and their former school.

We were joined by OPs from across North America from as far afield as California, Minneapolis, Nevada, New York, Illinois, Washington, Ontario and Barbados as well as the school staff team. The Old Princethorpians excitedly shared their news and caught up – telling of their lasting friendships from their time at school.

The former pupils had mainly attended the College during the seventies and eighties and with many having boarded there were plenty of memories of lively escapades to recount including one particularly tricky Chemistry homework incident where the boys were hauled before Headmaster, Father Clarkson expecting to be punished severely only to receive a masterclass in Chemistry to help them finish their work.

Foundation Archivist, Jannette Ratcliffe was especially delighted to see so many new photographs and hear so many stories about life as a boarder, and our thanks go to all the attendees who so willingly filled in the gaps.

Melanie Butler, Old Princethorpians’ Secretary said, “The virtual reunion was a wonderful chance for us to reconnect with our many Stateside OPs and bring them up to date with events at the College. It was a very enjoyable evening, afternoon or morning depending on where you were! We are very much hoping to organise a proper reunion in the States post the pandemic and would encourage any America-based OPs from across the generations to get back in touch so that we can keep you informed of our plans.”

Recordings of the reunion including the virtual tour and archive presentation are available to view please email and we will send you the link.

It was wonderful to reconnect with all our friends across the pond and if anyone is still in touch with former pupils Richard Burke, Mickey Hindley and Alistair Rumbold (at Princethorpe in the seventies) and Paul Brennan (who attended in the late eighties) then they have some old friends Stateside who would very much like to get back in touch.

Zainah Was Our 700th Membership Prize Draw Winner

Princethorpe Connect, the Foundation’s online alumni community, passed another amazing milestone in March with membership numbers reaching 700. Our congratulations go to OP Zainah Darr whose name was pulled out of the hat and was our latest membership prize draw winner.

Zainah was delighted to hear the news and to receive a lovely spring bouquet of flowers from the Foundation. She left Princethorpe back in 2018 and gave us an update on what she has been doing.

She said, “Since leaving Princethorpe, I have been studying Neuroscience at Queen Mary University of London. I have thoroughly enjoyed my degree and it has been fascinating to explore an area of science where so little is understood. Studying in such a dynamic and exciting city has also been amazing and I couldn’t think of a better place to be! With my university being in one of the most multicultural areas of London, I have formed friendships with people from all walks of life. Alongside my studies, I work part time at Selfridges on Oxford Street, which again, has allowed me to interact with a diverse range of people and even serve the odd celebrity! Over the past three years, I have also occasionally helped out at Save the Children in Leamington Spa on the weekends when I have come back home.”

“As fascinating as my degree has been, I have decided to pursue a career in law and have been accepted to study the GDL Law Conversion Course at the University of Law, starting this September - I will be studying at the Moorgate Campus so will be continuing my education in London. I am extremely passionate about child safeguarding and wish to specialise in family law, specifically, child protection as I believe all children deserve to excel towards a thriving future."

It was lovely to hear from Zainah and to hear of her future plans. The Foundation is keen to engage with all former pupils, parents and staff and build a thriving alumni community so please do encourage all those you know to register on Princethorpe Connect. They can do this easily themselves by going online to and you never know they might be the next lucky winners in our next membership milestone prize draw.

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