Alumni News

Ideas Galore Generated At Alumni Workshop Event

On Tuesday 30 April, we were delighted to host a special workshop event for alumni representing all our Foundation schools and heritage schools to look at the key Strategic Pillars for our alumni and development programme, which cover: Connectivity and engagement, careers and networking, social events, the structure and responsibilities of the committee and how the alumni can best support the Foundation’s development efforts.

Over 40 alumni took part; they were grouped according to their leaving decades from the 1960s right up to the present day. Guided by the Foundation team, they gave their opinions and enthusiastically discussed activity for each of the pillars as outlined above.

We were overwhelmed by the buzz in the room and the positivity and support expressed by the group. Listening to the feedback, the first thing we need to focus on is the structure of the Committee, as we feel this is central to the success of the association going forward.

It was clear that we need representation on the Committee from across all the Foundation schools and Heritage schools (St Mary’s, St Bede’s, St Joseph’s, Abbotsford, Crackley Hall, Crescent School and Princethorpe), as well as from each decade of our existence, from the 1960s to the 2020s. Crucially, we need a current Sixth Former on the committee to ensure a close connection with the school. In addition, it is important that we have former parents and staff represented, as well as overseas alumni.

Some committee members may of course cover more than one category and therefore represent more than one group, and we would ideally be looking for 15 - 20 people who are willing to participate actively in the association.

The members would each be linked to one of the five strategic pillars according to their particular interest or skillset, and as such would drive and support that programme of activity by helping organise and deliver initiatives, enlisting the help of fellow alumni, attending or hosting events, suggesting content, etc.

Such programmes of activity could include creating more targeted communications according to age and interest areas, career industry spotlights and podcasts, additional locations for social meet-ups, e.g. Bristol, events specifically for those who left within the past five years, increased links with and support for the PTA, more testimonials of impact of fundraising, and raising the profile of the OP committee in the wider community.

If your interest is piqued by reading this, and you would like to get involved in the work of the OP Committee, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at to indicate your areas of interest.

We would like to thank all those who took part in the workshop for giving their time so generously. It really bodes well for the future of the alumni association and the continuance of a mutually beneficial relationship with all our schools.

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Caroline Spencer Relishes Her New Role As Alumni Relations And Development Officer

One month into the job, I can happily confirm that embarking on a career change at the age of 41 was absolutely the right choice for me.

I have always loved people, which I know sounds vague, but it sums up my history of being a sociable person who enjoys getting to know people on a deeper level, often at risk of over-sharing details about myself! It explains why I relish working as part of a team, and why I love documentaries and non-fiction that focus on the lives of real individuals (this includes a love of True Crime podcasts!)

For the last 13 years, I have been teaching Drama at Alcester Grammar School. I loved working there, with amazing colleagues and delightful students, but over the last few years I developed a growing desire to channel my strengths and interests in a new direction.

My husband alerted me to the advert for this role and it attracted me immediately. It is a role which prioritises the forging of meaningful relationships and the ability to create the means to connect and engage people; with the intention of sustaining Princethorpe's spirit of family so that all members of the community continue to feel a part of that family even after they move on.

From the moment I started I could see this spirit of family in action. I am part of a team, each member with their own distinct role and skillset, but with the attitude that we do it together and look after each other. I have loved learning the various elements of my role, especially the opportunities to meet our OPs in person, be that at events or by taking visitors on tours around the school. I am excited to continue learning and am particularly keen to get to know our vast and vibrant alumni community.

Thank you to my new colleagues for making me feel so welcome and helping me to settle in so happily. And thank you to the OPs I've met so far, in person or online, for your generosity and kindness as I've made my first efforts to get to know you.

I look forward to more opportunities to know and support you all over the coming months and years.

Caroline can be contacted via or call 01926 634209.

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A Good Evening For All At OPs Local Pub Meet

We had a great turn out of OPs, current and former members of staff at the Leamington Pub Meet on Friday 8 March.

There were OPs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s in attendance, including St Joseph’s alumni, along with Princethorpe legends, Mr Darkes, Mr Hester, Mr McCullough and Mr White. It was also a great opportunity for the OPs to meet Headmaster, Mr du Toit and new Alumni and Development Officer, Cas Spencer.

The meet, upstairs at The Fox and Vivian on Clarendon Street, was a jovial evening for all concerned, catching up and swapping stories over a delicious spread and a drink or two.

Comments OP Chairman, Peter Rollason, "Our local meets are always popular and attract a good crowd. These events really are the lifeblood of the association, cementing existing friendships and forging new ones."

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Steve Calcutt Was Our Easter Winner

Our congratulations went to Steve Calcutt (Class of 2012) who was our Princethorpe Connect Easter Prize Draw winner. Steve’s name was randomly selected from all those who had engaged with Princethorpe Connect from 23 February to 22 March. A host of Bettys chocolate and teatime treats were delivered to him just in time for the Easter weekend. Steve was delighted to hear of his win and we are sure he enjoyed consuming the Easter treats with the help of his wife and daughter.

After leaving Princethorpe Steve completed a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Aston University. He now lives with his family in Hampton Magna in Warwickshire and is a Supply Chain Development Manager at AAH Pharmaceuticals.

It was great to catch up with Steve and here his news. For your chance to win, look out for our next Princethorpe Connect prize draw which takes place in the summer!

OP Guy Minshull Speaks To The Sixth Form About His Amazing Atlantic Dash

Princethorpe College was delighted to welcome OP and current parent Guy Minshull back to school on Wednesday 17 April, as the latest in our series of inspirational speakers for our Sixth Form students. Guy attended the College from 1980 to 1985 and now farms locally. His first teacher at Princethorpe was Alex Darkes who was also on hand to hear Guy speak.

Guy has just completed the challenge of a lifetime, one of the toughest endurance events in the world. Pitting himself against the might of the Atlantic Ocean in the Atlantic Dash, a 3,200-mile rowing race from Lanzarote to Antigua. He spoke to students about his 52-day journey and the life lessons he has taken away.

Guy committed to the challenge to support his long-time friend Rod but with no nautical experience even the journey to the row was hard. After all their preparations, the Brightsides team (Guy, Rod, Anna and Pez) set off on Wednesday 3 January and rowed two hours on two hours off for 24-hours a day. Along the way they endured wild weather, encountered wildlife, including flying fish, dolphins and even a pesky marlin, were blessed with vivid sunrises and sunsets galore and stunning night skies. They also suffered from painful blisters and callouses as they all turned into toughened rowing machines. They finally reached Antigua on Sunday 25 February, cheered in by delighted family and friends.

Before their challenge the team of four rowers had agreed to four simple rules, don’t be late for a shift, give it everything, have fun and to come home as friends and Guy concluded his talk with the message that with the right team pulling together anything is possible. His final advice to his audience was that it is always good to get out of your comfort zone and that no matter how tough things are it is worth keeping going.

Huge thanks to Guy for sharing his experiences with us and congratulations to all the Brightsides team on their superhuman effort, and for together raising over £150,000 for two charities, Meningitis Now and Get A-Head.

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Mr Darkes Teaches In The New Science Centre

Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes ventured into the classroom for probably the last time on Wednesday 20 March when he took over Deputy Head (Academic), Michael Spencer’s Year 10 Physics lesson on electricity. Alex was the Foundation’s lead on the College’s new Science Centre. Taking it from concept through design and construction and all the way to the official handover at the start of this school year. As a Physics teacher himself, it seemed only fitting that before he retired, he had the chance to teach in one of the new Physics laboratories and inspire the latest generation of Princethorpians with his love of physics and science.

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Duke Of Edinburgh's Gold Awards Presented At Buckingham Palace

18 Princethorpians were invited to Buckingham Palace in London to recognise their achievement of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. Across four very special events, they joined thousands of young people and their families celebrating their success.

Many were invited on Friday 10 May, when the charity’s Patron, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, a Gold Award achiever himself, congratulated all who had completed the challenging award, commending them on their perseverance, creativity and resilience.

Head of Outdoor Education, Will Bower, commented, “Completing your Gold Duke of Edinburgh takes real commitment and resolve, and the skills developed along the way benefit both the individual and their local community. All of these young people showed dedication and perseverance and their final expedition to Buckingham Palace is a really wonderful reward.”

Receiving their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award in ceremonies this year are: Amberquay Alford, Joshua Apaya, Dawson Barnett, Frederick Boyd, Thomas Dodsley, Eve Farquharson, Eloise Gray, Molly Harper, Ruby Harris, Evie Headland, Harry Hewitt, Lucy Hurworth, Noah Kemp, Niall Meades, Rahul Samra, Edward Sharpe, Tom Spencer and Charlotte Wildey.

We look forward to news of further awards presentations and don’t forget that the maximum age limit for completing your awards is 25 years.

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Year 10 Explore Good And Evil With OP Tesni Shemilt

Princethorpe welcomed OP Tesni Shemilt (Class of 2016) to school on Wednesday 8 May to talk to Year 10 about life as a prison officer and its challenges and rewards. Year 10 study ‘Good and Evil’ in their module on Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the Modern World in their Religious Studies GCSE.

Tesni last visited Princethorpe on her A-level results day so, before her talk, Head of Religious Studies, Cyp Vella, gave her a quick tour of the College to bring back memories of her school days.

Tesni told Year 10 about her journey to becoming a prison officer and then talked about the skills she needs to do the job and the challenges she faces. She spoke about being a key worker and problem solver and her work to support and help the inmates she works with break the cycle of reoffending.

Tesni gave Year 10 plenty to think about and reflect on as they study the concepts of good and evil and we thank her for delivering such an interesting and informative session. It was great to welcome her back to Princethorpe and to hear all about her career.

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Carys Nicolle Is Our Upper Sixth Princethorpe Connect Winner

Soon-To-Be Old Princethorpian, Carys Nicolle, is the lucky winner of the College’s Upper Sixth Leavers' Princethorpe Connect Prize Draw, winning a £25 Amazon Voucher and a Magnum Of Fizz for her table at the Leavers’ Ball on Tuesday 2 July at Warwick House, Southam.

All the Upper Sixth were encouraged to join Princethorpe Connect over the last few weeks giving them access to our online Old Princethorpians network, careers and mentoring advice, the termly OP e-newsletter and OP Friendly Faces - our initiative to match new undergraduates with OPs at universities around the country. They will also be able to view their Leavers’ Ball photos on the platform after the event.

Any of the Upper Sixth who have yet to join can do so by going to and creating a profile as an Upper Sixth Leaver.

All the Upper Sixth leavers profiles will be going live next week.

Parents of Upper Sixth leavers, for whom this is their last year in the Foundation, are also very welcome to join as a Former Parent and can do so be going to and creating a profile as a Former Parent.

Parents might also like to take a look at the Princethorpe Connect Online Shop and purchase some of our souvenir items which include the OP Tie, Tower Pin, Scarf, Pen and the Soaring Redbrick Tower Fine Art Print. Items will also be available to purchase at the Upper Sixth Thanksgiving Eucharist and Buffet on Tuesday 25 June.

Wishing all our Upper Sixth leavers well as they complete their time at Princethorpe College and begin their journey as an Old Princethorpian. Good luck to them all in their exams and do please keep in touch, we always love to hear how you are doing.


OPs Bluebells And Brunch Was A Real Family Affair

This year's OPs Bluebells and Brunch was a real family affair, with past pupils accompanied by spouses, partners, their parents, children, a bump (and even the odd pet pooch!). It was a real pleasure to have past pupils attending from the very earliest days of the College right up to a leaver of 2023.

All enjoyed a friendly catch up with former and current staff over a delicious brunch, a tour of the school, including spotting themselves in the whole school photos, followed by a leisurely stroll around the Mile Walk. To top it all, the weather couldn't have been kinder to us!

All former pupils, staff and parents are welcome to attend our alumni events, find out more on Princethorpe Connect.

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Super Summer Princethorpe Connect Cream Tea Prize Draw

Online membership of Princethorpe Connect, our alumni network for former pupils, staff and parents from across all the Foundation schools, has been steadily building over the last few months and now stands at just over 1,500.

We’d like to see the number of online members increase and we would also like to see our current members engaging more with the platform. So, to encourage more interaction the Princethorpe Connect Team is inviting you to connect to or interact with Princethorpe Connect by Friday 28 June to be in with a chance to win a delicious Cream Tea Hamper from The Cornish Company.

Online membership brings with it many benefits, members receive the termly OP e-newsletter including the latest news and events, are able to view private photo galleries, connect with other online members and access our Clubs, Careers and Networking pages.

For your chance to win, simply either ‘Create a Profile’, or if you are already an online member add to your current profile with a photo, update your work or contact details or invite a friend to join from your profile page. Do any or all of the above at by Friday 28 June 2024 to qualify for the draw.

The draw will be pulled from all online members who have interacted with the site from Friday 24 May to Friday 28 June and the lucky winner will be notified and their prize dispatched.

Good luck to all!

Six OPs Ran The London Marathon

April is London Marathon month, with runners from all over the country converging on the capital to pound the pavements in aid of their chosen charity. The lucky competitors having trained hard over the winter, hitting the roads on dark, cold and windy nights, to be sure to be ready to take on their challenge on Sunday 21 April.

This year’s runners included six Old Prinethorpians, Flora Courtney, Ben Haden, Will Pullen, Nick Harris, Jenny Vaughan ans Eve Tolley.

We gave a shout out to Flora Courtney, class of 2016, in the Lent OP newsletter. Flora ran for the Carers Trust. A charity that seeks to improve the support and services available for anyone living with the challenges of unpaid caring. She completed the course in 4 hours 31 minutes raising nearly £2,000. Find out more here:

Then back in the Michaelmas newsletter we shared the news that two OPs, Ben Haden and Will Pullen (both class of 2018), were taking on the London Marathon. Ben ran in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity that provides young people with nurses and youth workers to help them cope with their illness. He smashed his target raising over £3,000. Find out more here: 

While Will ran for Anthony Nolan, a charity which makes lifesaving connections between patients in need and strangers ready to donate their stem cells. Will has so far raised over £3,500. You can support his fundraising here:

We spotted that, despite claiming not to be a runner, OP Nick Harris (1989 - 1993) was also running this year’s London Marathon for the Salvation Army, in aid of their refuge and homelessness projects. He successfully completed the course and raised nearly £2,000. You can support him here:

Then OP Jenny Vaughan, class of 2002, who is our fabulous Registrar at Foundation Prep School, Crackley Hall School, ran for Dementia UK. Jenny told us, “I secured my place in the London Marathon 2024 through my running club ballot, with Kenilworth Runners. Having been unsuccessful in the general ballot for the past four years, I had convinced myself another year would go by without being able to run it. When my name was selected, I was shocked to say the least! I have run marathons before, however they have been trail runs over mountainous terrain and completely different to attempting a faster pace on tarmac. Having recently come back from a tendinopathy injury, I have taken a sensible approach to training and aim to simply finish on the day. I have chosen to fundraise for Dementia UK after seeing my Grandma decline in health with dementia and just how cruel the disease can be. The nurses at Dementia UK provide free support and advice to anyone affected by dementia.” Jenny completed the London Marathon in an incredible time of 3 hours and 51 minutes. She said, “It was an absolutely amazing experience with huge support from the crowds to help get me through the final miles. I would recommend anyone to try their luck in the general ballot, or apply for a charity place, even if you're not a runner. It truly is one for your bucket list! I am just about fully recovered now apart from a few sore and very black toes!” You can still support her here:

Finally, OP Eve Tolley (Class of 2018) also ran the London Marathon raising money for the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Children). It was her first ever marathon and before the event she told us, “It is going to be tough but I’m looking forward to race day and raising money for a great cause. The NSPCC are an amazing charity who work tirelessly every day to support the half a million children a year who suffer abuse in the UK.” Eve completed the course in an amazing 4 hours 16 minutes. Any donations to Eve’s fundraising big or small would still be greatly appreciated. Find out more here:  

We congratulate all our OP runners on their superhuman efforts completing this year's London Marathon.

And, if you fancy taking on the marathon challenge next year, then do make sure you share your story with us so we can share news of your endeavour with the wider OP community!


OP Friendly Faces Gears Up To Help The Next Generation Of OPs

This year we were delighted to be able to introduce recent leavers to an OP Friendly Face during the Michaelmas Term. In universities across the UK, as far afield as Bristol, Bath, Loughborough, Cambridge, Southampton and Liverpool to name just a few, the students enjoyed the benefits of a welcoming friendly face whilst settling into their first year.

Our scheme links past pupils established at university with Upper Sixth Leavers as they start their first year. Providing a friendly, familiar face to meet up with over a coffee (compliments of the OPs) or having someone to call in their new university town or city, does, we know, make for a smoother experience in those first few weeks away from home.

Our current Upper Sixth were introduced to the OP Friendly Faces scheme, and to the benefits of joining Princethorpe Connect and the Old Princethorpians Association, shortly before they went on study leave.

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We now have OP Friendly Faces in many university towns and cities but would like to expand on that and get more of our leavers matched up for the next academic year."

We are always on the look out for OPs at University who would be happy to be a friendly face so if you think you could help then do please email

Alumni Merchandise - Gifts For Everyone

Stuck for a gift idea for the OPs in your life? Look no further as items from our alumni range of merchandise make the perfect present for birthdays, anniversaries or even just for yourself!

If you are looking for a gift with a difference you could consider: 

  • Socks with the distinctive Tower design on dark blue background with thin diagonal stripe - priced £9.00 + postage
  • A university style scarf (in 100% wool with navy blue, red and gold stripes) - priced  £31 + postage
  • T-bar cufflinks with a gold Tower design - priced £26 + postage
  • The Old Princethorpian tie. A classic 100% silk tie with a repetitive gold Tower design and thin red diagonal stripes on a dark blue background - priced £19 + postage and packing.
  • Zani hats and neadbands - priced £18 and £15 respectively + postage
  • Tower pin badge. The 2cm high badge in nickel with recessed metal detail is based on the Tower logo - priced £11 + postage
  • A Spirit Of Family: The First Fifty Years Of Princethorpe College - produced to mark the College's Golden Jubilee this beautiful keepsake is a relflection on the first fifty years of Princethorpe College written by Nick Baker and Alex Darkes, it was published on 1 September 2016 - priced £21 + postage.
  • The Soaring Redbrick Tower Fine Art prints and cards sized at A2 for £40, A3 for £25 and as an A5 greetings card for £3. 
  • St. Joseph's Convent and School Fine Art print for £12.

Stocks are available to order online from Princethorpe Connect, please click here.


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