Welcome to the thirty-first issue of The Old Princethorpian, Princethorpe College's termly e-newsletter for past pupils, staff and parents, old and new.

Our newsletter aims to keep OPs in touch with each other and news, developments and events at the College.

This issue includes the latest Foundation and College news, plus plenty of news and updates from OPs across the decades.

If you have any comments on the e-newsletter or news to contribute to the next issue, which is due out in early October, please email us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.

Coming up soon is our popular London Pub Meet followed by the College's Open Evening in early June. Please see the Events section for more details on all our events.

We hope you will be able to join us.

Enjoy your summer!



OP News

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

Following its successful launch last summer, 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 2019.

OP Friendly Faces aims to link 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. 

As our Upper Sixth go on study leave, it would be good to know 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.  We are particularly looking for help from the leavers of 2018.

Laurence Chapman, who is finishing his first year at the University of Leicester studying Law and benefited from the initiative is keen to take up the challenge, he comments, "I was given an Old Princethorpian contact, Melissa Scott, who is now leaving the university. It was great to have a friendly face and she has been very helpful this year, so I would like to do the same for another Princethorpe student."

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, " We have OP Friendly Faces in around 30 university towns and cities and would like to expand on that significantly this year and 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 oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk by Friday 28 June 2019.



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OPs Leamington Pub Meet Draws Best Crowd Ever

The Old Princethorpian's Pub Meet at the Royal Pug in Leamington on Friday 1 March, was the association's most popular pub meet yet, with some 40 OPs in attendance, including current and former members of staff.

There was a lovely friendly atmosphere as OPs from across the decades socialised and caught up with each other's news over drinks and a delicious buffet. The leavers of 2014 were out in force and the prize for the OP coming the furthest to attend went to a leaver from 1980, Adrian Starbuck,who travelled all the way up from Dover with his wife Charlotte for the event.


Five OPs Enjoy One Final DofE Expedition To The Palace

On Tuesday 26 February five Old Princethorpians were invited to St James’s Palace, London to be presented with their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Charlie Rooney and Mollie Hughes (2017 Leavers) and Laura Baskerville, Erin Dunn-Morgan and Ben Haden (2018 Leavers) received their awards from former professional rugby player, now Welsh Director of Rugby, Cai Griffiths.

Also in attendance at the presentation was the Earl of Wessex, HRH Prince Edward, who spoke to the group about their experiences, and in particular the blood, sweat and tears of their expeditions. He was very engaging and genuinely interested in their stories and adventures.

It will have taken over five years for these young people to have earned their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, as they progressed through first Bronze and then Silver until they finally achieved the Gold Award.  Along the way they have volunteered, learned new skills, taken part in physical activity, and for the Gold undertaken a week long residential, as well as planning and completing self-sufficient expeditions.

Head of Outdoor Education, Will Bower, was delighted commenting, “Completing your Gold Duke of Edinburgh takes 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 St James’s Palace was a well-deserved reward.”

OP Murray Wells Inspires Future Engineers With Tales Of The Bloodhound Supersonic Car

Princethorpe College was delighted to welcome back Old Princethorpian Murray Wells into school on Thursday 28 February to talk to Lower Sixth students and Design Technology pupils about the Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car) Project and its plan to set a new world Land Speed Record.

Murray left Princethorpe in 2014 and went on to study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire.  He had always wanted to be an engineer, his choice of career reinforced by a video he saw explaining just how the Bloodhound was powered.  So he jumped at the chance to work on a placement with the project, amongst the UK’s best engineers, on what can only be described as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Murray explained that the Bloodhound SSC project has two objectives.  To set a new Land Speed Record at or above 1000mph but also to address the shortage of engineers, by inspiring a whole new generation of enthusiasts.  He recounted the history of the Land Speed Record and of British involvement in it.  From the early days of the 20th century; through Malcolm Campbell’s records in the twenties and thirties; how Richard Noble had won the title back from the Americans in 1983 when he reached 633 miles in Thrust 2; before ex-RAF pilot Andy Green finally set the current record of 763 miles per hour in the Thrust SSC in 1997. 

He talked about the Bloodhound SSC project and the design challenges it faces.  How it took two years to design a new body shape, the search for the right engine, the challenges of developing fuel pumps, air brakes and even wheels.  He explained that the car will weigh six tonnes, be three metres tall and larger than a bus and that the plan is to drive at 1000 miles per hour over 12 miles of desert.

Murray even explained about the work done to prepare the race site in Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, South Africa and the positive impact the project has had on the local community.

Assistant Head of Sixth, Rod Isaacs and Head of Design Technology, Paul Scopes both agreed that Murray’s talk was fascinating, saying, “The Bloodhound SSC is one of the most exciting engineering projects in the world, there really is nothing like UK engineering, it was incredible to hear about the project and its achievements so far.”

Our huge thanks go to Murray for taking the time to come into school to talk about the project and his involvement with it.

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Old Princethorpian Nico Shares His Insights On Social Media

Sixth Formers were given an insight into the world of social media when they were visited by Old Princethorpian, Nico McKenzie.

Nico returned to Princethorpe on Thursday 2 May to recount his experiences since leaving the College in 2011.  His talk was thought-provoking and at time humorous as he shared the highs and lows of being a social media influencer, a career path he never foresaw, and the effect of social media on mental health today.

After A-levels Nico went on to study Geography at Newcastle University, followed by a Masters in International Business Management before setting up his own company.  He talked to students about the many different social media platforms and the increasing importance of digital marketing.  He explained how he became interested in social media at university and how this developed into a role as a ‘social media influencer’ and the work his company now does for celebrity and corporate customers.

Nico shared statistics on social media usage and showed examples of fake social media posts.  He talked about the benefits of his work, the free trips and products, but also about the isolation and loneliness inherent in social media.  He reminded students to always be careful with their settings and permissions and stressed how important it is, if you are feeling isolated, to just talk to other people.  He finished his talk with a list of dos and don’ts to help students get the most out of social media.

Thank you Nico for giving Princethorpe’s students an insightful look at the minefield of social media. 

Former Parents' Afternoon Tea Goes Down A Treat

Our Former Parents’ Afternoon Tea on Saturday 6 April 2019 went down a treat with a small group of former parents, staff and OPs from across the decades.

Our catering team put on a wonderful spread of sweet and savoury delights and glasses of Prosecco helped add some extra fizz to the occasion.

In addition to catching up over the leisurely afternoon tea visitors were able to take an optional tour of the school campus and helped our archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, puts some names to faces on some of the old class photos.




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Staff And OPs Take Up The Archive Photograph Challenge

As part of the cataloguing work done by Archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, putting names to the faces in the hundreds of photographs in the collection is key to making the archive more useable.

All of the Princethorpe photographs have now been sorted by subject and estimated date and are ready to be added to the catalogue, adding more detail in the form of names was high on Janette's wish list. 

Of particular interest were the many photographs focussing on ‘Music and Drama’ and ‘Sport’ from the 1980s and 1990s.

In response to Janette's call for help, a small, but committed group of longstanding and former staff including Alex Darkes, John Miller, Mike Taylor, Margaret-Louise O'Keeffe, Fr Alan Whelan, Fr Teddy O'Brien and Colin Morgan, ably supported by OPs Mike Edwards and David Mold (leavers of 1995) took up the challenge.

The group spent two or so happy hours poring over a myriad of photos that Janette had carefully laid out for identification in the Sixth Form Centre. 

Janette Ratcliffe commented, "Thanks to the hard work (and fantastic memories) of the people who came to the event on Wednesday night, it was a huge success! It was lovely to see people working together to prompt memories and many of the people in the photographs that were displayed are now named. This will make a huge difference when it comes to cataloguing the photographs and make them much more usable in the future." 

If you would like any further information about the archive please contact Janette at janetteratcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk.


Wednesday 8 May 6.30pm to 8.00pm - Music, Drama and Sport
as we have a lot of photographs from that period and we would love to see as many former staff, parents or pupils at the event as possible.

To let us know you are able to attend either or both of these events please email Old Princethorpians.

To help energise those brain cells, plenty of refreshments will be available.

College News

Fantastic Response To College's Vision For Science

The College's Development Office has been thrilled by the response to its new Capital Campaign - A Vision for Science, which was recently launched via the Headmaster's Vision for the Future evening and a brochure mailing to the wider Foundation community.

The new Science Centre will provide state-of-the-art science facilities for Princethorpe pupils, and will in turn inspire future generations of scientists amidst this fabulous learning environment.

The Development Office is excited that the Vision for Science Campaign is now underway, and has already received many expressions of interest in the range of fundraising ideas presented. Interest is particularly strong for commemorative stones, chemical elements and naming opportunities. The Menu of Giving for Science, is designed to offer every Princethorpian a chance to become involved in the fundraising programme; there really is something for everyone.

To find out more about ways in which you can support the Vision for Science Campaign, and watch the interactive fly-through of the building, click here

The Development Team will be hosting a Vision for Science Dinner on Friday 27 September and further details will be announced next term. In the meantime if you would like to register your interest in the evening, or would like further information on any of our fundraising ideas, please contact the Development Team at makingadfifference@princethorpe.co.uk

New Look Website Launched

We’re delighted to announce that our new look Foundation website has been officially launched!

Developed in conjunction with website company e4education, the site has a lighter, brighter look and feel and includes features such as a News and Stories wall with social media feeds, an interactive direction map and a live subscribable calendar.

On the Princethorpe College site, you can find the dedicated OPs section on the top menu, with access to OP profiles, the OP e-newsletter, our calendar of events and a fantastic new history timeline to look through. You can also delve into our archive, meet the OPs Committee and check out OP merchandise.

We are looking for more people to become one of our OP Profiles on the website, so please do get in touch if you would like to be involved. 

We hope that the OPs will enjoy browsing the new site and finding out more about the rich and varied life of the College and OP news, events and initiatives too.

To visit the OPs pages on the new website go to www.princethorpe.co.uk/ops

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Longstanding School Bus Driver Stan Retires

Pupils from Princethorpe College welcomed longstanding school bus driver Stan Griffin of Catteralls Coaches into assembly on Wednesday 10 April, the final day of the Lent 2019 term. Pupils wanted to thank Stan who was retiring, for his dedication in driving many of them to and from school.

Stan clearly loved his work as he has driven Princethorpe College school buses for over 30 years; in fact, over that time, he has driven generations of children to the school.

The presentation was organised by four Year 11 pupils, Louis Coleby, Will Marshall, George Ward and Matt Wills, who wanted to show their appreciation.   

The presentation was kept a surprise and Stan was clearly delighted to be invited up on stage to receive his retirement gift – a flying lesson.

After the presentation, there was just time for a quick photo with some of his regular passengers, next to his bus, before Stan drove the S5 home for the final time.

Kenny Owen To Take On New Role At Arnold Lodge School

We congratulate Kenny Owen, Head of Austin House, who has been appointed to the role of Deputy Headteacher at Arnold Lodge School in Leamington from September 2019.

Headmaster Ed Hester comments, “Kenny joined Princethorpe in 2008 and has been a key member of both our pastoral team and the Economics and Business Department.  We congratulate him and wish him all the very best with his new role.”

Popular Singing Teacher Abigail Leaves the Foundation For A New Calling

At the end of March Princethorpe College and Crackley Hall School said goodbye to popular singing teacher Abigail Rhodes. Abigail had worked for the Foundation since September 2012 successfully teaching and mentoring pupils and staff through a range of classical and musical theatre examinations.  In her latest set of examinations both of her Grade 8 students (Juliette Carter and Alexis Draper) gained the highest level of achievement, Distinction.  Abigail even rose to the challenge of teaching Headmaster, Ed Hester and Deputy Head - Academic, Dr Michael Reddish to sing.

Abigail always had a strong Christian faith and left us to pursue a new career or rather a calling as a vicar, having been in training for some months she will be ordained by the Church of England in June thi year.

The fabulous relationship that Abigail had with pupils and staff as well as her professional dedication to supporting each and every one along their own musical journey has always been clearly evident so we have no doubt she will be successful in her new role.

Both music departments will miss Abigail tremendously and we all wish her well.

Job Vacancy - Summer Estates Assistants

We are recruiting for a range of Summer Estates Assistant roles, which may be of interest to some of our younger OPs who are returning home for the summer holidays and looking to earn some extra pocket money!

Part-time and full-time are available, ideally to start in July 2019, on a casual basis.  Applications from candidates interested in working until mid-evening and/or just on a Saturday will be welcome.

The Estates Assistants will work as part of the Estates team providing support services to all schools. Based at Princethorpe College the duties will primarily involve maintenance work, porterage and some cleaning. Applicants with some carpentry, plumbing or decorating skills would be most welcome. Flexibility will be required in respect of working hours.

The successful applicants will need to be able to provide a high quality service to staff, pupils and visitors and be enthusiastic as well as honest, trustworthy and reliable, able to lift and to work on his/her own as well as part of a team. Applicants should preferably have a clean full driving licence.

This is a ‘hands-on’ role facilitating the proper functioning of the schools to ensure a safe and satisfactory working, learning and recreational environment.

Interested candidates should be able to show flexibility and sensitivity to the needs of a wide range of users of the school.

Application: To apply for this vacancy applicants must submit a Princethorpe College application form, together with a CV and covering letter detailing your personal qualities, experience and how you meet the person specification for the role. Applicants must ensure the application form is fully completed, including a detailed career history with specific dates.

Closing date: Monday 20 May at 9.00am, although applicants are advised to apply straight away and interviews will be scheduled accordingly, to be held at Princethorpe College.

Further details and an application form are available from the College website www.theprincethorpefoundation.co.uk/join-us

The Foundation is committed to equal opportunities and safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

Applicants must be willing to undergo child protection screening appropriate to the post, including checks with past employers and the Disclosure and Barring Service.

The Princethorpe Foundation. Registered office Princethorpe College, Rugby. CV23 9PX. Company registered in England & Wales and Limited by Guarantee Number 4177718. Registered Charity Number 1087124

Princethorpe College Raises Over £100,000 for Mary’s Meals Mission In Malawi

Over the last ten years, generous pupils at Princethorpe College have had an enormous impact on the lives of schoolchildren in Malawi.  The school has raised over £100,000 for Mary’s Meals, money that has been used to provide vital help to youngsters in one of the world’s most impoverished areas, by providing them with a daily nutritious meal in their place of education.

Princethorpe College began its support for Mary’s Meals back in 2008 when it raised £7,000 to fund the construction of a kitchen at Lauderdale School in Malawi.  For the last three years the school has sponsored Makalanga Primary School, near Blantyre in Malawi, taking part in Mary’s Meals’ Sponsor A School scheme, providing the financial support to provide all 599 pupils with a daily meal of porridge made from maize and soya beans.

Assistant Head of Sixth Form, Rod Isaacs, commented, “We are delighted to support the life-changing work of Mary’s Meals.  Sponsoring a school has given a real focus to our fundraising.  It costs just £13.90 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a year, so feeding the 599 children at Makalanga School costs £8,326.10.  We are committed to raising that money every year but in practice, we are raise much more.  Alongside the regular updates we receive, it is wonderful to know our school is making such a difference, it all helps to motivate our fundraising efforts.”

Each year the Sixth Form organises all sorts of different fund raising events, from regular break-time cake sales, to the inter-house welly wanging competition and the annual marathon 24/7 and 40 mile sponsored walks.

Just prior to this year’s ‘24 miles in seven hours’ walking challenge the College was delighted to welcome entrepreneur, Peter Higgins, from the board of trustees of Mary’s Meals into school to talk to the Sixth Form about the work of the charity and to express his gratitude for the fundraising the College undertakes.

He said, “Princethorpe’s support for Mary’s Meals has been incredible, they are one of our top fundraising schools, and we are extremely grateful for everything they have done to help us reach some of the hungriest children in the world."

The 24/7 challenge took place on Sunday 10 March and 50 students and 10 staff from Princethorpe College trudged a grand total of 1,476 miles on the day. Fastest on the day was the incoming Head Boy Jack Bent, along with Sixth Formers Joe Hurworth and Tom Parker, they completed the course in 6 hours and 52 minutes.

The 40-mile challenge took place on Sunday 7 April, 17 pupils and five staff walked a big circular loop around Coventry starting and finishing in Meriden, walking in total 861 miles.  First home across the line were outgoing Head Boy, Tom Warne, together with Sixth Formers, James Bunting, Ed Bickerton and Oscar Doyle, the boys completed the 40 mile course in just 11 hours and 28 minutes.  This year the walking challenges have together raised £12,037.74.

Building on the fundraising undertaken for Mary’s Meals the College is planning an expedition to Malawi in July 2020.  Working with a project called Classrooms for Malawi a group of 23 pupils and five staff will visit Lauderdale School, the first school the College supported, to undertake a classroom refurbishment project, whilst in Malawi the students will also visit Makalanga School and the Mary’s Meals warehouse in Blantyre to see just how the fund the College raises are put to use. 

Rod Isaacs, continued, “It will be amazing to come full circle and visit the school where our support of Mary’s Meals all started and also to visit Makalanga School to see the difference our fundraising is making today.”

To find out more about Mary’s Meals, and the College’s fundraising click here.


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Inauguration Ceremony Welcomes New Princethorpe Prefect Body

The new Princethorpe College Prefect Body for 2019-2020 was formally inaugurated into their roles in an emotional ceremony on the last afternoon of the Lent Term, Wednesday 10 April. Parents and friends of the new prefects were invited to College for a celebratory buffet lunch before joining the afternoon’s formal ceremony.  The outgoing Head Boy, Tom Warne, and Head Girl, Elizabeth Carr, gave a poignant speech reflecting on their year in office and time at Princethorpe before wishing the new Prefect Body well, and handing over the keys of office.  The 2019-2020 Prefects smartly attired in their blue prefect uniform for the first time, spoke to the gathered audience of pupils about their hopes for their new roles.

The roles of office are:

Head Girl
Leah Dunkley

Head Boy
Jack Bent

Deputy Head Girls
Amy Gribben
Hannah Porter

Deputy Head Boys
Matthew Walker
Samuel Whittaker

Pastoral Prefects
Katherine Duigan
Madison Downey
Gabriella Proietti Tocca
Sophie Mitchell
Samuel Wycherley

House Captains:
Austin - Sophie Caris and James Crabtree
Benet - Caitlin McBride and Dominic Turner-Burr
Fisher - Isobel Smith and William Cooper-Harris
More - Katherine Shorten and Oscar Phillips

Social Prefects
Scarlet Gladwin and Amy Gordon

Charity Prefect
Ciara Hancox

Chaplaincy Prefects
Joseph Connelly and Louise Way

Junior Chaplaincy Prefects
Thomas Bucknall – Year 7 – Austin
Freddie Hadley – Year 7 – More
Zoe Shayler – Year 8 - Benet

Academic Prefects
Hannah Owens
Millie Hainge
Rajpreet Birdi
Alys Hemmings

Marketing and Communications Prefect
Lara Vohrah

Games Prefects
Ellen Bucknall and Caitlin Parris
Callum Cooke and Sion Murphy

The College wishes good luck to the new prefect body for the year ahead and extends warm thanks to the outgoing prefects, they have given great service and we wish them all the best for their upcoming exams and future endeavours.

Oli Thomas Celebrates England Hockey Call Up

Princethorpe College Year 11, Oli Thomas, made his England Hockey debut when he played for the winning U16 team in a match against Ireland at the Lilleshall Hall National Sports Centre on Thursday 21 February.

As well as playing for the College, Oli also plays club hockey at Hampton-In-Arden and is on the England Hockey player pathway. He trains with the England Squad and supplements that with training at the South Midlands Regional Performance Centre.

Back in the summer last year, Oli played in the Mercia Lynx team in the England Hockey Futures Cup, a high intensity tournament that is an important part of the England National Age Groups selection process, and he was delighted to subsequently be selected for the National U16 Boys’ Squad.

Oli said, “The Futures Cup tournament was incredible, three challenging matches plus training sessions and workshops all in four days.  We even had the chance to meet players from the GB team.  It was fantastic to win but then even better to find out that I had made it into the England squad.”

Since then Oli has attended monthly national training camps before making his successful debut in the amazing 3-2 win against Ireland.  He is looking forward to possible matches against Germany, Scotland and Holland, and to travelling to Belgium to play with the squad.  At the end of the season he hopes to play in the Home Nations Tournament.

Proud Princethorpe Hockey coach, Paul Whitehead, was delighted to be invited to watch Oli play at Lilleshall.  He commented, “Oli’s speed and precision are what makes him special, we are delighted to support him in his hockey ambitions and of course to have him play in the College’s 1st XI.”

Unfazed by the demands of GCSE studies, Oli believes that organisation and focus are the key to his success.  Adding, “It can be tough juggling my studies alongside hockey but if you are determined and work hard you can achieve anything.”

University And Apprenticeship Fair Gets Pupils On The Right Track

Princethorpe’s University and Apprenticeship Fair took place on Thursday 28 March.  Aimed at Year 11 to Sixth Form, it was a new addition to the College calendar and proved to be popular with parents and pupils alike.

On offer was a series of informative talks that addressed subjects such as ‘Why choose University’ and ‘Applying to competitive courses’ as well as advice on ‘Researching University and Apprenticeship Courses’ and the increasingly popular subject of ‘Degree Apprenticeships’.  Led by guest speakers from the Universities of Leeds, Southampton and Warwick and the Head of Careers, Jacqui Quinney, the talks offered useful guidance to pupils approaching higher education and working life.

In addition to the talks, the Sixth Form Centre hosted an exhibition of universities and employers.  Universities, from as far afield as Plymouth and Sheffield to the more local Birmingham and  Coventry, were on hand to answer questions and share information.  Then there were employers from a range of professions such as Accountancy, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Veterinary and representatives from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

The Sixth Form Lecture Theatre was dedicated to organisations offering apprenticeships such as Rolls Royce, with representatives on hand to talk to interested pupils and parents about their programmes.  The Lecture Theatre also had an extra attraction, the Premier League Trophy, kindly brought along by Mondelez International, which certainly encouraged visitors to their stand.

Head of Careers Jacqui Quinney commented, “The University and Apprenticeships Fair was all about getting pupils on the right track.  We wanted to help them explore different pathways and provide information on the choices they have.  It was certainly popular as we welcomed over 400 attendees on the night.”

Feedback has already been very positive with parents and pupils commenting on how useful and informative the event was and exhibitors on how impressed they were with Princethorpe’s pupils.

We are most grateful to all the Old Princethorpians, parents and contributors who supported the Fair and to the Careers Team for their organisation of the event.

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The Tower Souvenir Review

Many of you will remember that The Tower used to be the College’s magazine which provided termly updates on life at school, before the advent of our fortnightly e-newsletter The Flagpole.  A mainstay of the archives, much enjoyed by pupils and parents, past and present, the College has dusted off its much loved magazine and give it a new lease of life, this time as an annual souvenir review.

Charting the College’s year in words and pictures The Tower celebrates the pupils and ethos that together make Princethorpe such a very special place. 

2017-2018 had a lot to live up to following on from the glorious celebrations of the Golden Jubilee year.  It had its own challenges, with some of the heaviest snowfall in a long while but there were many wonderful and memorable moments and plenty of achievements and rewards to record.

The Tower Review was published in March.  An electronic copy is available here: The Tower.  If you would like to receive a hard copy of the publication please email oldprincethorpian@princethorpe.co.uk with your name and address.

Luke Daniel Caps For Great Britain U19 American Football Team

Sixth Former, and Pastoral Prefect, Luke Daniel made College history by becoming the first Princethorpe pupil to earn an international cap playing American Football for Great Britain.

Luke’s footballing career began just two years ago when he started training with the Etone Jaguars Amercian Football Academy in Nuneaton.  After only one season, Luke was selected to train with Great Britain’s development squad.  From an initial 100 players he made the cut to a roster of 55 and after a long haul of training days all over the country, Luke was selected to play Right Guard on the Offensive Line for Great Britain U19s in the International Federation of American Football’s European Championships qualifier against Norway.

Saturday 30 March was a day that will live long in Luke’s memory.  After walking out onto the pitch at the John Charles Stadium in Leeds he said, “It was a huge honour to put on a Great Britain shirt and represent my country.  A real dream come true!”

Sadly, despite all the hard work and huge aspirations, Great Britain lost the game, but the Great Britain development programme continues and Luke is hoping to pull on the team shirt again in the future.  For now it is back to League Football and preparations for the British American Football U19s National Championships in August.

The Pinnacle - Issue 25

The latest issue of The Pinnacle was published in March.  Showcasing excellent work, it celebrated pupils' success in English, Science and Sport, included reports on da Vinci trips to the Challenger Learning Centre and the Geography trip to Sicily and an update on EPQs (Extended Project Qualifications). 

There was also coverage of some of the wonderful GCSE Art, which will appear in our Summer Art, Photography and Design Show in June, which all are welcome to attend. 

A double-sided Minnacle was included too, with equally impressive work by Crackley Hall pupils from Reception to Junior 6 and Crescent pupils from Reception to Class VI. It's super to showcase their talents too!!

Click here if you would like to download a copy of The Pinnacle and here if you would like to see The Minnacle.

Latest Admissions Update Newsletter Now Available

The latest edition of the College's Admissions Update e-newsletter was published in March. It was packed with news to give prospective parents and pupils a feel for College life, information on forthcoming events and helpful advice about the admissions process, particularly for those who are looking at entry in September 2020.

The newsletter is issued twice a year to coincide with key admissions periods and the next edition will be available in autumn 2019 just prior to the Entrance Examinations.

Please click here to go to the Admissions Update newsletter.

Or for further information on admissions to the school please contact the Registrar on 01926 634201 or 01926 634262 or email the team at admissions@princethorpe.co.uk.


Crackley Hall School And Little Crackers Nursery Open Evening

Tuesday 14 May 2019 - 5.00pm to 7.30pm

Crackley Hall School and Little Crackers Nursery, Princethorpe's junior school and nursery in Kenilworth, is opening its doors for a Spring Open Evening on Tuesday 14 May from 5.00pm to 7.30pm. This is an ideal opportunity to experience Crackley Hall School and Little Crackers Nursery outside the school day. 

During the course of the evening there will be two short presentations at 6.00pm and 7.00pm in the hall by Crackley Headmaster, Rob Duigan, about Crackley Hall and Little Crackers. Elsewhere on site there will be plenty to see and do, including sporting displays, instrumental performances, plus the opportunity to visit classrooms and talk to staff. Light refreshments will be available. There is no need to book and all are welcome.

If you can't make the Open Evening but would like to visit the school, please call Admissions Secretary, Mrs Jenny Vaughan, on 01926 514410 or email admissions@crackleyhall.co.uk.

Alternatively please visit www.crackleyhall.co.uk for more information.

Old Princethorpians' London Pub Meet

Friday 17 May - from 6.30pm

For our next Old Princethorpians' London Meet we will be gathering at the Bull Dog Bar at The Clarence, 53 Whitehall, SW1A 2HP.  We used this popular venue for our Golden Jubilee London Pub Meet and it was so good we have decided to return. 

Centrally located just a short wander from Trafalgar Square and with the fair claim to be the Prime Minister’s local.

Partners and friends are welcome. If you would like to attend please RSVP with the number in your party and any special dietary requirements to oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk or call Melanie Butler on 01926 634284 by Monday 13 May.

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Arts Society Trinity Term Programme

Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) - Tuesday 21 May 2019

On Tuesday 21 May at 7.30pm former Princethorpe Foundation Archivist, Dr Nick Baker, returns to present another illustrated talk Sir Henry Rider Haggard: Storyteller, Politician and Country Gentleman.

Sir Henry Rider Haggard was only one of many extraordinary Victorians who straddled many different lives. Inspired by his first-hand experiences of Africa, he went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time, specialising in ‘Lost World’ literature. Works such as King Solomon’s Mines and Shecommunicated stories of lost civilisations in far off lands, and brought much needed escapism to a reading public. He did not limit himself to tales set in Africa, but also wrote about the Vikings in Iceland. Many of these stories have since been transformed into successful films. Who can forget Ursula Andress as ‘She who must be obeyed’ in the Hammer film of the same name? Haggard did more than simply feed the popular imagination. He was deeply concerned with the countryside, especially the farming communities in Norfolk, and argued for a more serious approach to Britain’s agriculture as the clouds of the First World War appeared on the horizon.

This illustrated talk will examine Haggard’s early life in Africa, and loves lost, to show how they shaped his literary output. We will also consider his close friendships with other notable individuals, such as Rudyard Kipling. A display of first editions and signed material will also be on display.

Please click here for booking form.

Organ Recital - Tuesday 2 July 2019 

Once again on Tuesday 2 July 2019 at 7.30pm in the Chapel Tim Campain will play a wide variety of pieces from various genres on the renowned Princethorpe Binns’ organ of 1901. This year promises a special programme to mark twenty-five years of the popular Hugh Page Memorial Organ Recitals.

Please click here for a booking form. 

Tickets - £5.00 for each of the events including refreshments. All Foundation pupils free of charge.

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The Sixteenth Princethorpe-Kingsley Wigley Group National Schools’ Two Day Event

Saturday 25 May – Sunday 26 May 2019

The Sixteenth Princethorpe-Kingsley Wigley Group National Schools’ Two Day Event takes place for the fifth year running on the magnificent Princethorpe estate.

The 80cm class continues again, as well as Novice 90cm and Open 100cm classes. Once again, the event includes Independent Schools' Association Classes. Show Jumping and Dressage take place on the Saturday with Roads and Tracks, Steeplechase and Cross Country on the Sunday.

Please use this link to find booking forms.

We do hope you can come along and enjoy a wonderful weekend of equestrian events.

Summer Open Evening And Taster Days

Wednesday 5 June - 6.30pm to 8.30pm

The College's annual Summer Open Evening will take place on Wednesday 5 June from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

This is an informal opportunity to look around the school and to meet members of staff and pupils. There will be activities in each department for children to participate in, and the Headmaster will also address visitors in the Chapel during the evening. Please do spread the word amongst friends and family, all are very welcome!

Light refreshments will be available.

Taster Days

There are still some places available on our Taster Days for pupils in Year 5 on Thursday 16 May, Wednesday 12 June, Tuesday 18 June and Thursday 20 June.  Further dates for Year 6, 7 and 8 pupils will be confirmed early in the Michaelmas Term.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To enquire about the Taster Days telephone the Registrars on 01926 634262 or email helenmorgan@princethorpe.co.uk.

Come And Say Hello At The Kenilworth Show!

Saturday 8 June 2019 from 9am

Both Princethorpe College and Crackley Hall School will be out in force at the Kenilworth Show on Saturday 8 June 2019.

Always a great day out for all the family, there is plenty to see and do including the Paul Hannam Quad Bike Display Team, The Sheep Show, Heavy Horses, The Grand Parade of Livestock plus the Countryside Arena and displays of farm machinery to name just a few of the exciting activities that visitors can enjoy.

There will also be over 100 trade stands from arts and crafts, jewellery, homewares, through to artisan breads and pies in the indoor trade marquee (where you can also find us!), with clothing stalls, garden furniture, plants and local club stands outside.

Visitors to the show can come and find out about our upcoming open events and admissions for September 2020 and beyond.  We would love to say hello to any former St Joseph School pupils and Old Princethorpians!

Tickets purchased before the event are just £12.50 and under 16s go free! For more information about the event and to buy tickets, please visit: https://www.kenilworthshow.co.uk/

Sudden Impulse Theatre Production Of The Taming Of The Shrew By William Shakespeare

Saturday 8 June - 3.30pm to 7.00pm

The College is looking forward to welcoming back the Sudden Impulse Theatre Company in June for an outdoor performance of William Shakespeare's play, The Taming of the Shrew.

A father has no problem finding a suitor for his youngest daughter, Bianca, in fact there are three of them fighting for her affections. First he must find a husband for his eldest daughter Katherina, a fierce, wild shrew who strikes fear and terror into most men. The three love rivals join forces to find a man who can tackle Katherina and clear the path to their love. Along comes Petruchio who is looking for a wealthy wife, and claims to be able to tame any woman. Of course it is not that easy in this hilarious Shakespeare comedy.

The performance is open to the public and will take place on the Sixth Form Lawn from 3.30pm to 7.00pm

So bring a picnic and, if last year’s performances are anything to go by, enjoy some perfect summer entertainment.

Tickets are available now from https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/suddenimpulsetheatrecompany and are priced at £12 or £10 for concessions.

The Summer Art, Photography and Design Show

Thursday 20 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm and Sunday 23 June from 2.00pm to 4.30pm

A celebration of our pupils GCSE, AS and A2 Art, Photography and Design work will take place in the College's Sixth Form Centre on Thursday 20 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm and on Sunday 23 June from 2.00pm to 4.30pm.

A range of design technology projects, from resistant materials to textiles, will be showcased alongside the stunning art and photography work the College is renowned for.

Comments, Paul Hubball, Head of Art, "This is a great opportunity to share our pupils' fantastic creativity with a wider audience and to welcome more art and design lovers to Princethorpe."
Added Head of Design Technology, Paul Scopes, "We look forward to welcoming all the exam pupils and their families from across Design, Art and Photography to enjoy the fruit of their labours."

All are welcome. On Thursday evening admission is free, on the Sunday admission will be £2 per car including entry to the College's Summer Fete and Motoring Festival.

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PTA Summer Fete And 24th Annual Motoring Festival

Sunday 23 June from 2.00pm to 4.30pm

PTA Summer Fete

The Summer Fête takes place in the Orchard between 2.00pm and 4.30pm, unless the weather is inclement when we retire indoors. There will be lots of entertainment both for children and adults alike including a large inflatable slide for the kids, BBQ, refreshments, bar, ice cream, pupils’ stalls, over 30 external stalls, a raffle and many, many more exciting things for all the family to enjoy.

The Motoring Festival 

The Motoring Festival is open to anyone keen to bring any sort of classic, vintage, veteran or interesting vehicle along for the afternoon. There will be rally plaques for all pre-booked vehicles and awards for self-judged competitions.

The Festival is preceded by an informal morning road run of about 30 miles through the Warwickshire countryside. Vehicles taking part in the run need to arrive at Princethorpe for 11.00am. There is no charge for classic vehicles entering the festival or taking part in the road run.

Barbecued food is available for a nominal charge on return to Princethorpe at lunchtime, or feel free to bring a picnic.

For further information and on-line registration please visit the College website.

Or contact Alex Darkes on 01926 634207 or by email alexdarkes@princethorpe.co.uk

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OPs Summer Supper - Calling The Leavers Of 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 And 2009

Friday 28 June 2019 - 6.00pm optional tour, 7.00pm drinks reception, 7.30pm supper

OPs who left the College in 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009 (or those who were in the same year groups) are cordially invited back to the OPs annual Summer Supper on Friday 28 June to celebrate their respective 50th, 40th, 30th, 20th and 10th anniversaries of leaving.

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We know many OPs are keener to come to these events if they can be sure of seeing some familiar faces.  By focusing on these year groups we hope to get a critical mass of attendees, although OPs from other years will of course be welcome too!"

The Summer Supper is an established event in the OPs calendar, attracting a large number of OPs, former and current members of staff. The supper is preceded by an optional tour and drinks in the Quad. Every year the OPs recognise long-standing members of staff and say farewell to any staff leaving the College.

Numbers are limited to around 100 guests, so if you would like to attend please email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk asap to reserve your place.

OPs vs College Sports Day 2019

Saturday 31 August - 10.45pm to 6.00pm

We are gearing up for the 9th annual Old Princethorpians vs College Sports Day (and 11th John Shinkwin Trophy Match) on Saturday 31 August. 

We are planning to repeat last year's successful format with a relaxing day that mixes of sporting matches with live music, a BBQ and a bar.

As in previous years points will be accumulated throughout the day, with the Alex Wallis Memorial Shield being awarded to the victors at the end of the day.

Format of day:

10.45am to 12.00pm Football OPs vs Staff

12.00pm to 1.00pm Hockey Princethorpe College 1st XI Girls vs OPs XI (x 2)

1.15pm to 2.15pm Hockey Princethorpe College 1st XI Boys vs OPs XI (x 2)

1.30pm to 2.30pm Netball Princethorpe College 1st VII Girls vs OPs VII (x 2)

2.30pm to 3.45pm Rugby - John Shinkwin Trophy - Princethorpe College 1st XV Boys vs OPs XV (leavers of 2017 and 2016)

3.45pm - After Match Awards

3.45pm to 5.00pm Rugby - OPs XV vs TBC

We are keen to get as many OPs from across the generations participating. If you are interested in playing in any of the sports please contact Neil McCollin, Director of Sport as soon as possible.

Heritage Open Days At Princethorpe

Sunday 22 September 2019 2.00pm - 4.00pm

Built in 1832, St Mary's Priory was one of the first Catholic buildings in England after the reformation. Come for a tour of the magnificent building and learn all about its history, including the amazing women that made it the place it is today.

From 1833 until 1966, St Mary's Priory was home to a congregation of Benedictine nuns who ran a boarding school for girls. This community sold the priory in 1966 and a new school was established by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, who had previously run a boys' school in Leamington Spa. Princethorpe College is now a fully co-educational Catholic independent day school.

Our archive team will be conducting free tours of the College on Sunday 9 September from 2.00pm - 4.00pm. Areas open include Pugin’s magnificent chapel, the cloisters, nuns’ cells, library (former church) and roundhouse.

No booking is required; just turn up and join the next available tour. Entrance is via the glazed link off the North Car Park.

Admission is free and there is complimentary tea and coffee available. We would be delighted to see you!

Old Princethorpian Interview

Javier Espinosa de los Reyes 

Bit of background, where you live, what you do for a living

I am from Mexico and live in Dallas Texas.  I married my high school sweetheart and have two girls. I work for Tavistock a private investment group as head of retail.   

Age: 34 

When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to? 1


What was the school like in your day? 

As a boarding student, the school was a unique contrast between the dorms and a wide spectrum of international students from all over the world and the local day students.  

How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

My time at Pricethorpe was one of the most pivotal and enduring experiences of my life. Being placed in an environment that was so different from my own, but simultaneously welcoming and safe changed my entire perspective of the world and my place in it. 

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone will bring struggle but most importantly growth.  

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your life?

Surviving an acute liver failure and receiving a liver transplant. Facing the ultimate price gives you perspective, focus and strength.     

What keeps you awake at night?

Coffee and global warming.   

What has been your proudest moment/greatest achievement so far?

My proudest moments are when I am able to impact people through the execution of an innovative and creative idea.  

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Motorsports and video games 

If you had to have one last meal, what would it be?


What is your favourite TV Show and why?

South Park, because it is unapologetic, wild, clever and funny.  

If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be and who would be with you?

In Lanai with my wife.  

Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

Sneaking around the school at night. Building models aeroplanes on my bedroom window overlooking this single massive tree. Doing homework at the study hall staring at the art on the wall. Walking back from the fields covered in mud from rugby practice. 

Are you in touch with any other Old Princethorpians, if so whom?

Unfortunately not beyond some distant facebooking.  

Is there anyone you would like to track down?

After 20 years it would be great to hear from any of my class and dorm mates.  See gallery for a picture of Javier's form.

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Births, Deaths & Marriages


Delphine Withall (née Kingston) - RIP

The Princethorpe community was saddened to learn of the death of Delphine Withall (née Kingston), OP in her ninety-first year.

Delphine (known affectionally as Del) was born in Coventry to parents who ran a hat & gown shop in Far Gosford Street. In 1939 at the outbreak of war, her parents decided that she would be safer away from the city centre and sent her to St Mary’s Priory at Princethorpe where she remained for the following seven years, making lifelong friends, several of whom attended her funeral. She went on to become a teacher and taught in three schools. She was a keen tennis coach, had a passion for bowls, antiques, crosswords and University Challenge. She lived in Stretton-on-Dunsmore.

Her grandchildren and her son all paid tribute to Delphine, remembering her immense love, keen sense of fun, encyclopaedic knowledge, wise counsel and unstinting support and encouragement. Her catchphrase was “I can and I will”.

Delphine Mary Withall - 5 September 1928 to 13 March 2019

A funeral service at All Saints’ Church, Stretton on Dunmore was held on Wednesday 3 April 2019 followed by a reception at the Oak and Black Dog. Delphine last attended a St Mary’s Priory re-union in September 2014.

Richard Jenner - RIP

Just a few weeks ago OP Richard Jenner died, aged 59, following a battle with cancer.  Below is an extract from the eulogy given at his funeral which was attended by an enormous number of people (he was very popular) including four Old Princethorpians, five counting his younger brother Andrew...

'Richard’s childhood in Dar es Salem Tanzania was “so basic, uncomplicated and full of adventure”. Richard was a fast runner - good at maths, and a competent speaker of Swahili. At eight-years-old he went from a convent school in Dar Es Salam to St Michael's Sony in the Usambra Mountains.

At 11 Richard came to England, to Princethorpe College in Rugby where he was known as ‘JJ’. A school that he loved; where he made life-long friends; and where his passion for sport was nourished. And then to Sixth Form in Kenya, a country that forever after, he loved so dearly.

He moved back to the UK in his 20s and worked in IT, where he met his wife Teresa. Was there ever a more wonderful match? Each the perfect complement to each other. So supportive, so understanding, so loving. They were so lucky to have found each other.

Konor of course was born in 1992 and Ronny in 1995. Richard was an extraordinarily devoted, dedicated and proud father.

Later Richard left IT and started his own business, a really bold move. His work ethic was uncompromising and he had complete commitment to looking after his customers. One of his customers, Juice - said “Richard was never just a supplier but a true friend. It was always a good day when Richard came to care for us.”

Richard remained a keen runner and persuaded many of us to join him on half-marathons; marathons and the 100km Gurkha Trailwalker. His enthusiasm was infectious and he was a wonderful coach, motivator and running partner.

Richard immensely enjoyed family holidays in Scotland and Cornwall - he loved the coast and the sea. Vivid memory of eight of us putting to sea in a 38’ yacht off the South Coast in unexpectedly strong winds and high seas and sailing straight into the Cowes Week racing fleet: hours of weaving through the fleet and beating through wave and wind, helicopters and marshal boats swarming around; a lasting memory of Richard laughing at the wheel through the constant spray and finally making port exhilarated and exhausted, giggling and thankfully clutching a pint.

Many people of course have spoken of the unfairness of it all. How could someone as good as Richard leave us so early. The last time we spoke he said to me in his usual understated way that, “the Doctors are saying they’ve done all they can - which is very disappointing”. The courage and fortitude with which he faced the challenge was extraordinary but entirely in character.

Let me share a few of the messages I have received.

Richard was...
“A gentle kind and considerate spirit”
“A dear, kind, unassuming, lovely friend. Richard didn’t have a bad bone in his body”
“A lovely man, so friendly, so helpful, popular and genuine”
“Such a lovely gentle and happy man. Every time we passed him in his van he gave us a huge smile and ‘thumbs up’. We will miss this.”
“Richard was loved and respected by everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him or had him touch their lives.”

And I think this is it. Richard clearly had the greatest love and devotion for his family but what is extraordinary is that he had so much left for the rest of us. He made us all feel special because I think in his eyes, we all were.

For now, goodbye my dear friend. Or as I believe you would have said in Swahili: Safari Njema'

Richard's friend OP Steve Evans, also wrote some words about their time at Princethorpe...

'Richard Jenner: ‘JJ’ – can't tell you why save for the first letter of his last name; we all had nicknames in those days – was a full boarder in the class of ’77.  We were and are a close year, every one of us still in touch and many of us meeting regularly.  Five of us including JJ had lunch at the Nags Head, Abingdon just before Christmas.

Those of us at the Service learned a good deal about JJ that was new to us, but one theme was totally familiar to those of us who were at school with him: JJ was a natural ‘peace maker’: at home, at work and with his friends.  Whe we heard that he was very ill, there were many exhanges between his old school friends about him, for instance on our ‘WhatsApp’ group. None of us could ever remember having an argument with JJ, witnessing him falling out with anyone, having enemies or being disliked, hearing a bad word from him, or about him or seeing him upset anyone.

He had a prodigious talent for reconciling people.  He didn’t like conflict; he was a ‘uniter’, a ‘harmoniser’,  and he brought people together with his natural good humour and sense of fun. He loved to laugh, to enjoy himself and others, to enjoy life.  It was difficult to be unhappy when he was present, he had such an infectious good nature that it was impossible to be anything other than happy in his complany.  That instinct to see harmony amoungst those he liked and loved – and that was pretty much everyone he met – is a virtue this world could happily stand more of.

Two things I can say on behalf all his friends from Princethorpe, firstly our sympathy, thoughts and love to Teresa, and his wonderful children Konor and Ronny (a credit to JJ and Teresa) – we are here for you, and secondly this: he was our mate, one of us, we will miss him hugely – rest in peace JJ.'

Richard is pictured far right in October 2018 with his OP friends, Robin Abeyesinhe, Mike Loughnane, Steve Evans and Mike Nagaur.


OP Thomas Alexander Announces His Engagement

We were delighted to hear that OP Thomas Alexander, who left Princethorpe in 2002, is engaged to be married.

Tom met his fiancee Becky in Leamington Spa, he was on a night out for a friends 30th birthday and Becky was on a friend’s hen-do.  Tom was in fancy dress as one-half of Wham, the other half was his old Princethorpe classmate Jon Fleming (the theme of the party was the letter ‘W’ … he told us it had seemed like a good idea at the time!)

Clearly, his costume stood out as it got Becky and him talking and it all started there.

Tom is now a company director of a video production company based in Warwickshire whilst Becky is a researcher at Oxford University.   They live together in Warwick with their cat Margot.

Their wedding is taking place in the summer at Wethele Manor and they are both busy making plans for the big day.

We offer our congratulations to them both and wish them every future happiness together.

Wedding Bells For OPs Kate Whitfield And Matt Adkins

News of a Princethorpe fairytale has reached the Old Princethorpians! OPs Kate Whitfield and Matt Adkins got engaged on 20 April 2019 and Kate tells us more...

Matt and I are both Old Princethorpians - we met at Princethorpe and became a couple in 2010, which I believe was Year 9 for us. We met because of Princethorpe and have gone strong ever since. 

Since leaving Princethorpe I went on to study and complete a BA Hons in Fine Art from De Montfort University where I got a first. I am now a Technical Administrator for an acoustics firm - Noise.co.uk, and I also take art commissions on the side.

Matt became a Maintenance Engineer and is currently working for UniPart. He has also completed a HNC in Engineering, an extended Level 3 Diploma in General Engineering and a Level 3 NVQ in Maintenance Engineering.

Matt proposed to me on top of the Worms Head in Rhosilli, Wales on the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

I also dug out this old photo from our Princethorpe days which I believe was taken in an old History classroom on the ground floor.

Huge congratulations to Kate and Matt!

Memory Bank

Update from the Archives

Our archivist Janette Ratcliffe sums up a month in the Archives...

By the time the OP newsletter is published, we will have held our second Photo Naming Event here at the College. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to everybody who was able to attend either event and share their knowledge. This information will be added when we catalogue the photographs. If you weren’t able to attend but are still keen to get involved, copies of the photographs that were on display will be shared as ‘Throw Back Thursday’ posts on Facebook and any help you can give is very much appreciated.

The launch of the new website in March provided an exciting opportunity to delve into the rich history of the Foundation and I enjoyed researching the history of each school for their individual websites, as well as creating an interactive timeline that can be found at the bottom of the OP section of the Princethorpe website. The team have worked so hard to get the website looking as good as it does and I was pleased to have been able to make a small contribution.

We continue to make good progress cataloguing our collections. There are now over 6,700 items on the catalogue and the following collections are now fully catalogued:

St Mary’s Priory

St Bede’ College

St Joseph’s School

Crackley Hall

Crescent School

You can find our catalogue at archives.princethorpe.co.uk and it is easy to search to see what we have. There is also a Digital Materials section which has the school magazines that have been digitised and programmes from some of the plays that have been put on at Princethorpe College. If you spot a gap in our records that you can fill, please get in touch with me at janetteratcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk. I am able to scan and return your originals if you would prefer to keep them.

Spring Has Finally Sprung

Driving up to Princethorpe College is always a pleasure and this is particularly true in Spring. What becomes clear when you look through the magazines and programmes in the archive is that the college’s surroundings have also inspired the generations of pupils that attended the school.

As well as there being an annual prize awarded to a pupil at St Mary’s Priory for the best nature study, the Peeps magazine regularly featured poems and articles relating to the girls’ observations as part of their time here. What soon becomes clear is how little has changed in the intervening years. This poem submitted for the 1913 edition of Peeps (Reference SMP.27.3.06, pg 11) could easily have been written by a current pupil with its references to the bluebells that are so striking in the woods at the moment.

‘At Princethorpe Nature reigns as Queen
She decks the hill and vale with green,
She threads the grass with violets blue,
And gives the moss its verdant hue.

The bluebells nod beneath the trees,
Adding a fragrance to the breeze,
While lark and thrush in rapture sing
Their joyous welcome to the Spring.’

Dorothy Kelly

Nature at the Priory was also an inspiration for the beautiful designs featured on the programmes we hold here in the archive, with flowers proving a popular theme. The programmes were created for the Reverend Mother’s Feast Day each year and it was a time for great celebration with pupils performing plays and songs; a recurring theme for the lyrics was the joy the pupils felt at being able to ‘put away all their books and learning’ in order to just have fun.

Given the beautiful surroundings of the College, I think it is fair to end this article with the quote at the ending of the article ‘Field Botany in the Enclosure’ in the 1928 edition of the Peeps, which states ‘Benedicite universa germinantia in terra Domino’ or ‘Bless all that grows in the ground’. (Reference SMP.27.3.16, pg 22).

If you would like to read the Peeps magazines for yourself to see what else the pupils and nuns wrote about life at Princethorpe, they have all been digitised and can be found in the ‘Digital Material’ section of the archive catalogue at archives.princethorpe.co.uk

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Missing & Found

Christelle Molloy Catches Up With Old St Mary's Class Mates

Following the Lent edition of the OP e-newsletter when we included an update from St Mary's Priory Old Girl Christelle Molloy, we are delighted to say that her appeal to get back in touch with her fellow classmates from 1959 to 1965 bore immediate fruit.

Within a few hours of the newsletter going live and in the days following no less than three former friends, Annette Toner, Maggie McKay and Biddy Baines emailed and their details were passed on to Christelle who was delighted. 

It's lovely to see the Old Princethorpian network in action and making a difference!


OP Updates

Cricketer Bethan Singled Out As Stand Out Performer

We have been delighted to hear about Bethan Ellis’ (Class of 2017) cricketing success. Bethan has been opening the batting for Warwickshire Women this season; she has been in excellent form scoring lots of runs, including the first century of the season in a warm up game with the Women’s County cricket team. She has seen plenty of coverage on the Warwickshire County Cricket Club website and even had a mention in the sport’s weekly newspaper The Cricket Paper.

Bethan was even singled out as a ‘stand-out performer’ on the English Cricket Board’s website report on the opening rounds of this year’s Royal London Women’s County One-Day Cup! They said:

‘The Bears may have lost both games across the weekend but young opening bat Bethan Ellis impressed with her 74 against Kent on Monday.’

The Warwickshire Women's team have another strong OP connection as they are coached by the Warwickshire cricketing legend, Dominic Ostler.

Bethan was always a super skilful sporting star back in her Princethorpe days and we wish her every success in her cricketing career.

Bethan is pictured with teammate Marie Kelly.

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Rory And Carrie's World Tour

OP Rory Aitkenhead, who joined Princethorpe in 1997 and has worked as a qualified architect for the last seven years, departed on an eight month around the world travel adventure with his wife, Carrie.

They set off on 28 December 2018 and began their adventure with a month of skiing and snowboarding in Whistler, Canada. Then drove from Seattle via Portland, Oregon to Rory’s brother’s house in San Francisco. Miles Aitkenhead, also an OP, has lived in the Bay area of northern California for the last five years. After leaving their skis, snowboards and winter clothes in his loft they continued onto Los Angeles via the stunning Route 1 coastal road. From here they flew to Cancun in Mexico travelling south to Tulum and then getting a boat to the island of Caye Caulker in Belize. After time spent snorkelling and diving off the second largest reef in the world alongside nurse sharks and huge loggerhead turtles, they continued to mainland Belize. Here particular highlights included Caracol, one of the largest Mayan cities and the ATM cave, home to in-situ remains of human sacrifice dating from 850AD, including noble children with cranial modification.

Crossing into Guatemala, one of their favourite destinations of the trip to date, they explored the jungles of Tikal, the stunning valley of Semuc Champey, the arid western highland and the beautiful Lake Atitlan. They climbed the volcano of Acatengo and spent the night watching its neighbouring volcano (Fuego) erupt, while also finding time to relax on the pacific beaches. In Costa Rica, they visited the cloud forests of Monteverde and the remote Peninsular of Corcovado home to 2.5% of the worlds bio diversity, teaming with wildlife. They continued their adventure, traveling across the border into Panama visiting the surf Mecca of Bocas del Toro, Panama City and then sailing via the beautiful San Blas islands to Cartagena, Colombia. A month spent in northern Colombia, hiking through the Sierra Nevada mountain forests to the “Lost City” spending time in the equally stunning Tayrona national park along the coast and spending Semana Santa (Easter) at the quaint colonial town of Mompos.

Rory and Carrie flew from Santa Marta via a whistle stop tour of Medellin to Lima, Peru. Here they have continued via bus to Cusco visiting the coastal desert of Paracas and the desert oasis of Huachina where Rory managed to get back on a snowboard. In Cusco they trekked for four days along the Inca trail to Machu Piccu arriving at the Sun Gate on a clear, sunny day for Carrie’s birthday. An experience they had both always dreamed of, and it did not disappoint, also giving them the opportunity to raise funds for causes close to them. They also visited Rainbow mountain before continuing on to Lake Titicaca, visiting the floating reed bed islands and communities of the lake.

They are currently in Bolivia where their adventure will continue south into Argentina flying from Buenos Aries to Auckland in June, then on to Fiji, Sydney and Melbourne. Their final month will be spent in Indonesia before returning back to the UK, with Carrie returning for the start of term where she teaches at a primary school in Bermondsey, London. If you wish to see more of their adventure, click here to visit their travel blog.

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OPs Help England University Hockey Team Win 2019 Home Nations Championships

Old Princethorpians Richard Hill (Class of 2015) and Alexander Rooney (Class of 2014) represented England in the British Universities Home Nations Tournament played in Glasgow at the Scottish National Hockey Centre on the 17 and 18 April 2019.

Richard and Alexander travelled up to Manchester on the Monday for a training day and warm up game against Manchester Brooklands. It was a chance to get experience with the squad ahead of the Home Nations Tournament.  They then travelled up to Glasgow on the Tuesday, there they watched Scotland play Wales before a further training session with their England teammates.

Their first game in the tournament took place the next day, Wednesday 17 April, and the team confidently dispatched Wales in a 5-2 win. The team then cheered on the England girls who in a much closer match won on penalties, leaving both English teams with all to play for against Scotland on the final day. The teams enjoyed a joint meal in the evening but then the boys got some much-needed rest ahead of the important make or break game. The next morning England played Scotland and won convincingly 6-3, making England the 2019 Home Nations Champions.

Alexander said, “It was a fantastic week with a really awesome bunch of lads that made up a convincing squad. It was really great to see how Richard and I had developed as players, and how quickly we rolled back the years with some evident Paul Whitehead coaching behaviours. Richard proved himself a dynamic machine in midfield with some superb tackles and tight technical play, and I was very fortunate to let in only 2 of the 9 goals conceded that week. An awesome week catching up and reminiscing with some ‘just like old times’ moments!”

We are delighted to hear of Alex and Richard's success and that they are keeping up their hockey traditions. Well played boys!

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Felicity Crowned Freelance Finance Journalist Of The Year

OP Felicity Hannah (née King-Evans), who left Princethorpe in 2001, was named Freelance Finance Journalist of the Year for the second year in a row at the Headlinemoney Awards in London on Wednesday 8 May 2019.

Felicity now writes for the Independent, Mirror and Yahoo Finance, with her articles also being featured in The Guardian, This Is Money, Sky News, MSN Money and many others.

Many congratulations Felicity - what a fantastic achievement! 

Ashley's Adventures In Canada

OP Ashley Dodds, who left Princethorpe in 2014, gives us an update on her travels and career plans...

After three years of being a paramedic in central London I decided to take a career break. Last November I left the UK for Canada, placing myself in Whistler, British Columbia. My aims whilst away were to make some long term career plans, have a break from the stress of my profession, gain some perspective, travel and most importantly, improve my skiing. 

Since being in Canada, I have done 50 days on the mountain, completed a four day ski camp and met some wonderful people- most of whom are also on career breaks from different countries. 

Exploring BC has been my highlight so far, seeing the beautiful landscapes, lakes, mountains and beaches, all seemingly so untouched and (at this time of year) with minimal tourist activity. I have ventured across Vancouver Island, through mainland BC and to Banff, Alberta.

I have accomplished most of my pre-trip aims and have applied and subsequently gained a place at Imperial College to start my Masters in September, studying Cardiovascular and Respiratory Healthcare. 

After leaving Whistler this week for the final time I am currently travelling via car, down the west coast of the US. I plan to visit Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA, but the best sections will be in between these cities via many national state parks. This trip will be a mixture of camping and hostels, to enable me to stay wherever I end up. I hope to see the Washington and Oregon coastlines, before heading in to Crater Lake National Park and Redwood National Park before onto a few days in San Francisco.

Following on from San Francisco, I will spend a week in Yosemite hiking and camping, after which I will travel down the California coastline spending time in the smaller towns and camping in Big Sur. 

I am having a great time but I am looking forward to returning to London, returning to work and starting my course in September. 

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Milli's Gap Year Memories

OP Milli Thornton who left the College in 2018 has spent her gap year as a Teaching Assistant at fellow MSC school Downlands College in Australia, she takes up the story here..

Moving to the other side of the world to a town I knew nothing about for a job I have no experience in… was the most daunting thing I’ve done in my life to date. But after an incredible ten months, it's been the most rewarding.

Working in a boarding house with teenage girls has been an eye-opening experience, was I like that at age 14? (most likely). Bringing back very fond memories of my time at Princethorpe, as the similarities between Princethorpe and Downlands College are endless. Both schools teaching the kids that life is not just about your academic grades but making you a better, well rounded person. Which really becomes evident when speaking to the grade 12 (Australia’s final school year), and how what they want to gain from their last year of school is very similar to what my friends and I desired from our last year at Princethorpe.

Although I adore the job I have in the boarding school, is that best part of my gap year? That’s got to be a no, the best part is… travelling Australia.

What a stunning country I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around. The two-month summer/Christmas holiday being the highlight. Starting down in Melbourne I travelled by plane, bus and train all up the East Coast ending up on a weekend trip driving around Fraser Island’s sand dunes and camping with wild dingos just metres away. Two months I will never forget. Although a warm Christmas… I’m not too sure about that!

A definite highlight for me was my visit to the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney. As someone who talks a lot, I am rarely left speechless, but the Blue Mountains definitely had that impact on me. Just mountain upon mountain surrounded by Blue Gum Trees for as far as the eye can see. It was truly mesmerising, watching the sun set behind the mountains will be a sight I’ll never forget.

Australia has so much to offer with what to do and see, at no point this year have I been bored or looking for something to do. With Brisbane just two hours away, I’ve often found myself on weekend trips to the city. This year has been filled with countless memories I will treasure for the rest of my life, from the things I’ve seen to the people that have come into my life for a weekend, a month or the year, they have all left a mark on me.

Gap years are incredible things, and to quote the cliché ‘on your gap year you find yourself’, you really do. Over this year I’ve become more certain in the person I am and the person I want to grow to be. I’ve become more independent and self-sufficient but also have a greater appreciation for my family and everything they have done and continue to do for me. I feel incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to live in Toowoomba and work at Downlands College for the year and have learnt things I would never have if I was sat at home.

I whole heartedly recommend anyone and everyone to throw themselves out of their comfort zone, go and travel and experience a world so different to ours at home.

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Lillie Bleasdale Runs London Marathon In Aid Of Mind

Since leaving Princethorpe in 2014, I undertook an apprenticeship at Hearst UK and I am now a Client Service Manager!

This year, I undertook the London Marathon in aid of Mind, the mental health charity, and have raised over £2,400 in donations so far. I completed the marathon in 3:27:53 - qualifying me for next year's Boston Marathon.

Later this year I will be hitting the streets of Berlin to take part in my second world major, and hopefully secure a championship entry time for London 2020. Next year I'm heading over to the Chicago Marathon as well, having secured a Good for Age qualifying time!

Huge congratulations Lillie! To support Lillie and donate to Mind please click here


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Helen Fitchett Hits The Theatres In Australia

Since finishing up at Downlands College last July as part of the Princethorpe Exchange Program, I was pretty eager to get back to Australia. I returned in August 2018 after a brief month in the UK seeing my nearest and dearest, and I settled in Brisbane with friends I had made in my previous year.

In September 2018, I was lucky enough to grab a job as a Theatre Technician (as was my degree training) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) working at Gardens Theatre, The Loft and The Block. At QUT, I completed roles of Lighting Operator, Stage Manager and worked my way up to become Duty Technician for all three venues. I’ve worked with amazing shows, including The Gruffulo tour, Inferno and plenty of Student Shows.

In December 2018, I was awarded ‘Best New Staff Member of the Year’ at QUT which was a firm reminder of my progress in Australia. In January/February time I had friends from university come over to see me in Australia which was extremely exciting, being able to show my friends around Brisbane and introduce them to Australia (with many trips to beaches included).

In March 2019, I was sad to leave QUT due to visa restrictions but I used the opportunity to branch out and work for other venues in Brisbane including Brisbane Powerhouse & La Boite Theatre Company. I became Venue Stage Manager for Brisbane Comedy Festival working with Australian Comedians Tom Ballard & Tim Ferguson. Most recently, I have just finished working as Stage Manager for a show which was described as 'fully accessible theatre' including full captioning and Auslan-Integration, which was a fun and challenging show to work on.

I’m now hoping to branch out to other venues in Brisbane and gain more experience within the theatre industry. I’m looking to stay in Australia, hoping that visa options will allow me to do that so I can continue the life I have built up here.

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Chartered Quantity Surveyor Sean Updates Us On His Career

As a leaver of 1989 Sean Hedigan received an invite to this year’s OP Summer Supper, sadly, he will be unable to join us in June but he has promised to come for a tour of the College soon.   In the meantime, he gave us the following update on the intervening 30 years.

After leaving Princethorpe Sean studied for a BSc in Quantity Surveying at the University of Wolverhampton and then went on to work in the construction industry.  Over the years, he has worked for and alongside a number of well-known blue-chip organisations including working with Intel Ireland, on the world’s largest and most complex tool install project at the Leixlip Plant.  He is currently working for Alexion Pharma International Operations UC on their Athlone Plant in County Roscommon as Project Cost Controller on a multi-million Euro fully disposable Bio-Pharma New Build and Cell Culture Fit Out Project.

Sean is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

Sean married Fiona Hedigan in June 2006 and moved to Ireland later that year.  His daughter Freya was born in June 2009. He set up own quantity surveyor and construction cost consultancy business in 2013, SFQS Ltd.  This year he has also undertaken his own ‘grand design’ challenge and built his own house.  He told us he often reflects back on the good memories from his Princethorpe days.

Thanks for the update Sean and we hope to see you very soon.

Teach First Takes Hannah Back To Princethorpe

We really enjoyed having OP Hannah van Wyk back in school in March as part of her Teach First training programme.  Hannah left Princethorpe in 2014 and went on to study English Language at Cardiff University.  After completing her degree, she joined the Teach First training programme and now teaches English at Whitley Academy in Coventry.  As part of her PGDE (Post Graduate Diploma in Education) Hannah had to gain experience at a contrasting school and Head of English, Mr Kerrigan, and the English department here at Princethorpe, jumped at the opportunity to support her.

After a very busy week teaching mixed ability groups, and a different exam board, Hannah commented, “It has been good to be back, the children are lovely, so polite and welcoming; I have really enjoyed my week here.  Although I must admit, it was quite surreal to teach a class under the watchful eye of Miss Challinor, my former A-level English teacher!

Matilda Returns To Princethorpe To Retune The College's Piano

It was fantastic to welcome OP Matilda Gannon back to Princethorpe College on Wednesday 20 March.  Matilda left Princethorpe in 2014 and went on to York University to study Music.  After successfully completing her degree, she was encouraged to train as a piano tuner.  Matilda said, “I always had a good ear and decided that piano tuning might just be the job for me.”  After completing a one-year intensive course, she now works as a professional piano tuner.  Matilda was in school today to undertake the important job of retuning the piano in the Roundhouse.  She continued, “It is great to be here, it brings back lots of memories.  My instrument is the violin but I remember this piano well.”