During the Easter holidays a contingent from Princethorpe, comprising Headmaster, Ed Hester, his wife, Tracey, Fr Teddy O’Brien MSC, Development Director, Rachel Hadley-Leonard and Old Princethorpians’ Secretary, Melanie Butler journeyed to Hong Kong to meet with past pupils who had boarded at the College from the late 1960s to the 1990s.
The trip came five years after Fr Teddy O’Brien and Fr Dan O’Connor MSC had been hosted on a very successful visit by former pupils.
The focus of this return visit was a Development Reunion Dinner at the prestigious Hong Kong Club, in Central on the evening of Saturday 14 April, but an amazing itinerary had been arranged around this event to give the visitors a thorough introduction to all the sights and delights of Hong Kong. The OPs behind masterminding the schedule and helping organise the dinner were Alan Young, Vitus Leung, Nelson Ngai and Heman Lam – or the ‘Fantastic Four’ as they soon became known.
All Old Princethorpians living in Hong Kong or the Far East had been invited to the Development Reunion Dinner and the response to the invitation had been very positive, with acceptances from across the generations. Most of the guests are resident in Hong Kong, but others travelled from further afield, including Simon Loasby who now lives in Shanghai, Jonathan Leung from Singapore, Peter Lee from China and Peter Yang (aka Fat Jack) and his wife, Kitty from Australia.
On the Saturday evening after a short drinks reception, a delicious three-course buffet was enjoyed by the 40-strong group in the club’s private Harcourt Suite. Guests were sat at five tables depending on when they had attended and named after key locations at Princethorpe, from the Quad, to the Refectory, the Study Hall, the Orchard and Switzerland. A slide-show of archive photographs played throughout the evening, bringing back memories and fuelling tales of bygone days. Guests also had their memories tested by a special quiz relating to Princethorpe and its past, with points earned being allocated to their former Houses, see results below.
The more formal part of the proceedings saw Headmaster, Ed Hester, take to the floor to address the gathering. He explained his connections with the College, how things had changed over the years, the huge debt owed to the College’s founders, the MSCs and the strong Christian ethos that continues to this day. He also spoke about plans for a new Science building aimed at giving pupils the very best facilities to encourage the pursuit of Science-based careers.
Rachel Hadley-Leonard then introduced guests to the work of the Development Office including milestones and progress since the office was opened in 2016. Rachel spoke about how the College had a very rich history of philanthropy, including support for various improvements at the College, and not least the great act of generosity by the MSCs who gifted the College to the Foundation in 2001. She then showed the ‘Making a Difference’ Film which explains the school’s new Bursary Fund and how that has impacted on pupils’ lives and outlined the new Capital Campaign for Science. She concluded by asking for the group’s support for the College in a variety of ways, whether in terms of mentoring and careers advice or sponsorship of bursaries or supporting aspects of the new Science building.
Melanie Butler, spoke briefly about the Old Princethorpians’ Association, its aims and activities including events and the popular termly e-newsletter, The Old Princethorpian, before emphasising the importance of both parties keeping in touch and how welcome all the OPs would be to visit the College, bringing their families with them.
She finished with a second film entitled ‘Greetings from Princethorpe’, which featured former and long-standing members of staff, Peter Griffin, Bernie Moroney, Lou Skiffington, Alex Darkes and Sean Philpott all reminiscing about the Hong Kong pupils and sending their greetings to the assembled throng.
The evening came to a happy conclusion with the results of the Quiz, a resounding rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to Fat Jack, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday that day, goodie bags full of information, and an invitation to Mass the next day at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception the next day, when Fr Teddy would be co-celebrating.
Over the few short days that the Princethorpe group spent in Hong Kong with their kind and trusty guides, they had a wealth of experiences from the stunning views from The Peak, to a tram ride across town to the Hong Kong Park, climbing 200 steps to see the giant Buddha on Lantau Island, the sights and sounds of Tai O village and fascinating visits to the Hong Kong Government Offices thanks to David Chung and to Hong Kong University, courtesy of Professor Paul Cheung. They also had an amazing array of culinary experiences from a traditional Dim Sum brunch, to Chinese, Cantonese and Thai banquets.
Commenting on the visit, Headmaster, Ed Hester said, “We were completely overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome we received and the hospitality shown to us. There is clearly a huge fondness for Princethorpe within the OP community in Hong Kong and they seemed delighted to be reminded of times past and also to see the many developments that have happened at the College over the intervening years. We hope that the Hong Kong OPs will find ways to support us, keep in touch and come and visit us at Princethorpe soon.”
A huge thank you to all our guests for attending the Dinner and particularly to the Fantastic Four, Alan, Vitus, Nelson and Heman, for their endless good humour, hospitality and friendship.
To view all the photographs, videos and information shared on the trip please click on this link.
1st place – Switzerland – 500 points
2nd place – The Study Hall – 400 points
3rd place – The Quad – 300 points
Joint 4th place – The Orchard and The Refectory – 150 points each
House points earned:
Austin - 273
Benet - 554
Fisher - 343
More - 330
The points earned have been added into this year’s (2018/2019) College House Competition.