Welcome to the thirty-second issue of The Old Princethorpian, the Princethorpe Foundation'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 across the Foundation.

This issue includes the latest Foundation and College news, including the launch of our exciting new online alumni community, Princethorpe Connect, 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 will be published in February, please email us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.

Coming up on the events front we have our OPs and Former Parents Brunch on Saturday 12 October, Prize Giving and the OPs Pre Drinks Reception for last year's Upper Sixth on Friday 22 November and the College Christmas Fair on Sunday 1 December. Please check the Events section for details of all our events.

Have a great autumn!



OP News

Princethorpe Connect Launches Today - Sign Up Now For Your Chance To Win A Bottle Of Champagne!

We're delighted to announce the official launch of our brand-new online alumni community portal, Princethorpe Connect. Aimed at past pupils, past parents and former staff, Princethorpe Connect will enable you to find and network with old friends and former colleagues from across the Foundation schools and keep up with news and events.

After a soft launch over the summer, we already have over 100 online members. As an added incentive to encourage sign up, we will randomly select one lucky online member from all those signed up by Monday 4 November to receive a bottle of Champagne, so do please register before then.

Connect Now In Five Simple Steps

  • Step 1 - Click here to go to Princethorpe Connect
  • Step 2 - Go to 'Create a profile...'
  • Step 3 - Register with your email address or synchronise with your Facebook or LinkedIn account
  • Step 4 - Your registration will be reviewed and approved by the Community Admins
  • Step 5 - Once approved your Princethorpe Connect profile will be live and ready to go!

You’ll need to answer a few questions on registration to link to your alumni record, but once logged in you’ll get access to a host of features and benefits.

Princethorpe Connect is an exclusive social network for those in the Princethorpe community, giving you the chance to share your own news and stories, photographs, connect with old friends, send and receive individual or group messages with other alumni, sign up for Old Princethorpians and Development events, pay for tickets, make a donation, order merchandise through our online shop, and access exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes and archive photographs.

We also hope you can take a few moments to fully update your profile to provide us with your current contact details and career information, because you may be able to help guide the current generation of Princethorpe pupils towards their future careers and it allows us to stay in touch with you and keep you up-to-date with all things Princethorpe.

We hope you enjoy everything that Princethorpe Connect has to offer. The more people that sign up and interact with each other through Princethorpe Connect, the more dynamic it becomes, so we hope all OPs will sign up and get connected.

This year's calendar of events is already online, so sign up to Princethorpe Connect and click the events tab for more information and to book your place at for instance the upcoming local and London meets or next year's Summer Supper.

OP Friendly Faces Helps The Next Generation Of OPs

Since A-level results day in August we have been busy matching the Upper Sixth leavers of 2019  with OP Friendly Faces across the UK, some 15 freshers at universities ranging from St Andrews to York and Nottingham to Southampton are benefiting from the scheme. 

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. 

Laurence Chapman, who is in his second year at the University of Leicester studying Law and benefited from the initiative last year is now looking after Meera Chauhan who is just starting her Law degree at Leicester, " I am very much looking forward to mentoring Meera this year and helping her settle into the Law School. I am on committees for two law societies next year so I will take her along to some meetings and introduce her to opportunities at the university as much as I can and she would like."

Meera, adds, "Laurence has been very supportive in my transition from school to university.  From subject related questions, for example opportunities available to me and how to go about lectures to more general topics like bus routes. He has been very helpful and indeed fulfilled his responsibility of being a friendly face."

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We are delighted that we have been able to match up more of our leavers with OP Friendly Faces, hopefully the initiative will go from strength to strength over the next few years."



Honours Even At This Year's OP Sports Day

It was lovely to see so many familiar faces at the OPs vs College Sports Day, held this year on Saturday 31 August. It was also great to welcome Old Coventrians (King Henry VIII’s alumni association) to the College for the final match of the day against the older OPs.

The College teams had their most successful day for many years clinching three wins, including a nailbitingly close Netball game and victory for the Staff/College side in the increasingly popular Football, and only suffering two losses in the Girls’ Hockey and the John Shinkwin Trophy Match.

In the OPs v College 1st XV (John Shinkwin Trophy match the OPs (leavers of 2018 and 2019) were clearly physically stronger, and their greater strength proved to be their trump card. As is usual in this fixture, the College team paid their elders far too much respect which the OP side capitalised upon.

At the after match awards, it was honours even with the College proudly raising the Alex Wallis Memorial Shield and the OPs the John Shinkwin Cup.

The OPs v Old Coventrians match ended up being a 10 a side game, due to a somewhat depleted OPs side. The OPs stayed in the game to the last quarter when, a slightly more well drilled Old Coventrians side eased ahead to a comfortable victory.

Special mention must go to Simon Wilkins and Michael Edwards who gamely took the pitch for the OPs vs Old Coventrians side - 25 years after leaving the College in 1994!

Neil McCollin, Foundation Director of Sport, commented, “We were incredibly pleased to see so many familiar faces, all the games were played in true Princethorpe spirit and enjoyed by all who watched and played.

“Post our recent South Africa Sports Tour we knew the College teams would be competitive but we were over the moon to win the Shield after a tough couple of years. Huge well done to all those who played and made the day so special. I look forward to seeing them all return on Saturday 5 September 2020 for the next OPs vs College Sports Day.”

The results of the matches were as follows:
Football – Staff/College 2 v OPs 1
Netball – College 23 v OPs 20
Boys’ Hockey – College 4 v OPs 1
Girls’ Hockey – College 1 v OPs 5
Rugby – College 0 v OPs 29
Rugby – OPs 27 v Old Coventrians 43

Thanks to all the players, supporters, organisers and caterers for making the day such a lovely relaxed affair.

More photographs from the day can be found on our new Alumni Community website here.  

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Sun Shines For OPs Summer Supper

This year's Old Princethorpians' Summer Supper Reunion lived up to its name as the College basked in balmy summer sunshine on Friday 28 June.

This year's event was aimed specifically at the leavers of 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009, celebrating their respective 50th, 40th, 30th, 20th and 10th anniversaries.

The Old Princethorpians had reached out to those OPs on its database by email, post and via Facebook and had a very positive response especially from the leavers of 2009, with nearly 20 from that year's Upper Sixth attending. There were also a small number of leavers from 1979, plus other years represented including guests who had flown in specially all the way from Hong Kong and Nice. The 80 or so guests also included the OPs Committee, former parents, former staff, staff who have worked at the College since 2007 and 2008 and staff who are leaving at the end of this academic year.

After an optional tour of school, ably-led by Alex Darkes and Eddie Tolcher, the guests gathered in the Quad for drinks, before moving to the Main Dining Room for a delicious three-course supper.

Following a very convivial meal, Headmaster, Ed Hester and OPs Chairman, Peter Rollason addressed the throng and as is tradition gifts were given to long-serving members of staff and those leaving us this year, including Greg Hunter, Suzy Ellis and Chris McCullough. As a finale to the evening, Alex Darkes or Mr Princethorpe as Headmaster, Ed Hester referred to him, was recognised for 40 years service and presented with a Fortnum and Mason hamper to a well-deserved and rapturous standing round of applause!

Nelson Ngai and his wife, Rowenna, were the guests who travelled the furthest from their home in Hong Kong to attend the event and and celebrate Nelson's 40th year of leaving.

Nelson comments, "It was a wonderful event that Rowenna and I thoroughly enjoyed. To see the changes at Princethorpe College was undoubtedly the highlight of our tour of England. All the improvements from academic to sports achievements are admirable. The sports centre, science laboratories and Sixth Form common room are just a few facilities that I wish we had back in the 1970's. Meeting fellow Princethorpians, academic staff, and Fr O'Brien again was priceless."

Commented OPs Chairman, Peter Rollason, "A good time certainly seemed to be had by all. It was particularly pleasing to see such a large number of leavers from 2009 celebrating their tenth anniversary with us and to hear how well they are doing.

"Next year's OPs Summer Supper Reunion will take place on Friday 26 June 2020 when we will be celebrating the leavers of 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. If you would like to come along please email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk. Leavers of other years and partners are most welcome too.

More photographs from the evening can be found on our new Alumni Community website here.

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Old Princethorpians Enjoy Annual London Meet

Just before the May half term the Old Princethorpians held their annual London Meet, this year at the Bulldog Bar in The Clarence on London's Whitehall.

The evening was hosted by members of the OP Committee including the Headmaster, Ed Hester, Assistant Head, Alex Darkes and Foundation Bursar Eddie Tolcher.

It was lovely to see some of our London stalwarts along with some new faces catching up with each other and the latest Princethorpe news. It was particularly good to welcome Former Director of Boarding, Fr Teddy O'Brien, MSC and Chris Lee, leaver of 2004, who has returned to the College to take on the role of Foundation Development Director.

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21 Princethorpians Presented With Duke Of Edinburgh Gold Award At Buckingham Palace

In May 21 Old Princethorpians, were invited to Buckingham Palace in London to be presented with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.  They joined 3,500 young people in a special ceremony in glorious sunshine, in the gardens of the Palace. 

It will have taken them over five years and 450 hours to have earned their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, progressing first through Bronze and then Silver until they finally achieved the challenging Gold.  Along the way they will 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.

In turn the 21 were presented with their awards by explorer and adventurer Andy Bartlet who urged them to be proud and to keep making life memorable.  After receiving their awards, the group then had the chance to meet and talk with Sophie, Countess of Wessex. 

Head of Outdoor Education, Will Bower, was very proud, commenting, “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 was a wonderful reward.”

Receiving their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award were:

Georgina Bannister
Imogen Blackhall
Joseph Berry
Helen Busfield
Meera Chauhan
Nathan Golsby-Taylor
Megan Harcourt
Imogen Hornsby
Jessica Hornsby
Alex Hutcheson
Eleanor Jennings
Megan Jones
Megan Lewis
Alexander Mackinnon
Aimee Sen-Gupta
Charlotte Silvester
James Tolcher
Tom Warne
Edward Williamson
Christie Wukics
Tiarnan Wukics

Congratulations to you all!

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Duke of Edinburgh Award Completion

Last year a record 160 Duke of Edinburgh Awards were achieved by Princethorpians. Our completion rate placed us top in the county. 21 of these were Gold Awards, an outstanding achievement by all involved. 

Do you have an award you haven’t quite managed to finish?  We would love you to get things signed off and see your achievements recognised. Please see the eDofE Guide and FAQs below, which explains the process further.

The photo shows recent Upper Sixth leavers Ellie Jennings, Aimee Sen-Gupta, Meg Harcourt and Charlotte Silvester receiving their Gold Awards at Buckingham Palace in May this year.  This could be you next year!!

Will Bower
Head of Outdoor Education and DofE Manager

eDofE Guide and FAQs  

Crackley Hall To Celebrate 75th Anniversary In 2020

Crackley Hall, formerly St Joseph's Convent School, the Foundation's junior school in Kenilworth will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020.

A committee of past pupils and staff is being formed to plan the celebrations and we will be sharing news of these with past pupils and former members of staff early in the New Year.

Plans are likely to include, a special Mass, afternoon tea, musical performances and possibly a Gala Dinner or Ball.

If you are be interested in being kept up to date with the plans please register on Princethorpe Connect, email Jenny Vaughan at pastpupils@crackleyhall.co.uk or call 01926 514410.

OP Ian Bell Coaches Crackley Cricket Masterclass

One of Princethorpe's junior schools, Crackley Hall was delighted to welcome, Old Princethorpian and Cricket Ambassador for Complete Cricket, Ian Bell MBE into school on Tuesday 11 June for a special Batting Masterclass.

Ian put the awestruck boys through their paces. From the start he stressed the importance of getting the fundamentals right, looking at grip, stance, backlift and alignment, his message was ‘cricket is simple if you get the basics right’. Over the two-hour session, you could see the boys’ cricket really improve as they worked in groups to put Ian’s advice into practise.

The masterclass finished with a special question and answer session. Ian was enthusiastically quizzed by the boys, with questions ranging from ‘Who was the most challenging bowler you faced?’ and ‘Where were the most difficult pitches to play on?’ to ‘What was it like to play with Freddie Flintoff?’ They even quizzed Ian on his time at Princethorpe. Ian answered all their questions good-naturedly explaining that he had always enjoyed sport and had first played for Warwickshire in their U10 squad. He encouraged the boys to play all sports, talking about all the opportunities he had at Princethorpe and the inspiration and support he had received from the College’s former Director of Sport, Gwilym Price. He said, “I loved sport and at Princethorpe I played everything - rugby, football, hockey and cricket. I was 16 when I finally decided that cricket was what I wanted to do.”

Crackley Hall’s Assistant Head – Co-curricular, Charles Lamprecht said, “Huge thanks to Ian and Jamie and Sam from Complete Cricket for such an inspirational masterclass. The boys were thrilled to have a cricketing legend coaching them."

Many thanks to Ian for coming into work with the boys.

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OP Merchandise - The Perfect Christmas Gift!

Stuck for Christmas present ideas for the OPs in your life? Look no further as items from the OP range of merchandise make the ideal gift for Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries!

Popular items include:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Stocks are now available to order online from Princethorpe Connect, please click here, or alternatively email Old Princethorpians.

Foundation News

Another Year Of Excellent Results For Princethorpe’s A-level And GCSE Pupils

Princethorpe College is celebrating another year of excellent examination results.

This summer 30% of all A-level grades were A* or A and over three-quarters of grades were C or better; at GCSE the College celebrated its best ever GCSE results with 48% of all entries graded 9, 8 or 7 ( the old A* or A) and 36 pupils achieving eight or more 9, 8 and 7 grades.

Ed Hester, Headmaster, said, “Our students have worked so hard and we are incredibly proud of their achievements.”

A-level summary:

  • 94 candidates
  • 17 students achieved 3 or more A* or A grades
  • 30% A* and A
  • 75% grade C or better

Ed Hester continued, "We were particularly pleased that in addition to their A-levels, this year over half the Upper Sixth cohort completed the extended project qualification, which is so highly respected by universities and employers alike. It was also lovely to receive amazing feedback from the A-level Art moderators who were bowled over by the quality of the artwork by all our six A* A-level art students.”

At GCSE Princethorpe pupils performed well in all the core subjects, but the College is again delighted with its English results - this year 62% of pupils achieved 9, 8 or 7 grades. 

GCSE summary:  

  • 127 candidates
  • 48% of all grades 9-7 
  • 96% of grades 9-4 or better

There were many exceptional personal achievements, with stand-out performances at GCSE from Grace McGrory, James Gallagher, Lauren Mason, Alex Rejali and Prajeet Prabakaran, who all achieved an outstanding eleven or more grade 9s.

Headmaster, Ed Hester, continued, “All credit goes to our pupils and staff for their commitment and hard work.  Our 2019 A-level and GCSE results are very strong indicators that the school’s academic achievements across the ability range continue to go from strength to strength."

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Development Capital Campaign Ready To Lift Off In November

The Development Team at Princethorpe is getting ready for the next phase of our Capital Campaign which will be lifting off in early November.

In the last few weeks we have had a meeting of our volunteer-led Science Campaign Board, made up of friends from across the Princethorpe Community, who are driving the fundraising objectives of the campaign. The Campaign Board includes two representative Old Princethorpians, Tim Douglas and Mary Wheildon. We hope you will get to meet Tim and Mary at OP and Development events over the next few months to speak to them about the campaign.

The Development Focus Group met recently too and have helped guide decisions on fundraising options for the Capital Campaign.

There will be some fantastic, unique fundraising options available, offered for the first time ever at Princethorpe including; engrave a paver or brick with your or a family name or sponsoring an element on our giant periodic table. More details on how to secure your option will be coming soon.

We are also working hard to link in with local businesses on partnership work around the new Science Building – if you have any contacts in business or industry that you think we should be speaking to please let us know by emailing makingadifference@princethorpe.co.uk.

The Science building will not only secure the future of Science at Princethorpe it will also transform and modernise Art, Geography, Maths, Business Studies and our dining facilities.

For more information on the Campaign, contact Chris Lee, Development Director on 01926 634265 or email makingadifference@princethorpe.co.uk.

Princethorpe Clock Undergoes Major Restoration

Over the summer holidays a lot of work goes on behind the scenes readying the College for the start of the academic year. This year was no exception, with amongst other things improvements being made to the first floor teaching corridor and the installation of new boilers to keep everyone warm and cosy once summer is a dim memory.

One other part of the school receiving some much needed TLC was the College clock, which was manufactured in 1861 and has been lovingly tended for decades by former Head of Chemistry, John Miller and Estatesman, Gerry Lovely.

The clock takes the form of a cast iron chair frame design movement with hour strike and ting tang quarter chimes, it drives the two external dials with an anchor escapement with pendulum action.

A phased restoration is currently underway starting with the stonework around the clock tower, which has been looking rather sorry for itself and refurbishment of some of the internal workings and the dials.

The weight driving pulley system was in need of restoration, particularly the top pulleys & timber support above the weights, the pulleys needed to be removed for overhaul and the top fixing timber replaced, so it was decided that converting the movement to automatic winding was the best way forward, this allows the movement to work all as original.

The Cumbria Clock Company, church and public clock specialists, were entrusted to undertake the work and fitted a new autowinding unit this summer and next year the clock movement will be dismantled and taken off site for cleaning.

The scaffolding remans and work on the stonework continues, as we await stone from a quarry in Shropshire which should arrive early in October, but it's been good to hear those distinctive chimes ringing out again.

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Cycling Pilgrimage Challenge #2 Raises Funds For Mary's Meals

An intrepid band of Princethorpe College staff, parents, Old Princethorpians and even our Chair of Trustees bravely took on an epic challenge over the May half term holiday when they cycled between the French towns of Saumur and Amboise in support of the College's chosen charity, Mary's Meals.

This was the second time the College has undertaken a cycling pilgrimage, the first one being during the College's Golden Jubilee Year, two years ago.

The 22 cyclists and their supporters travelled to France by coach and cycled the 110 miles over two days, with a rest day in between in the beautiful chateau town of Azay-le-Rideau. Over the course of the challenge the cyclists encountered monsoon like rain, punctures, chain breaks and their fair share of drama and injury.

They travelled along country roads and canal paths, through lush meadows and poppy fields, beside the beautiful Loire and up steep hills in order to complete the challenge.

Comments, Headmaster, Ed Hester, who led the trip, “110 miles in two days is no mean feat and all the pilgrims deserve to be congratulated. Once again there was a fantastic sense of camaraderie, which really epitomised Princethorpe’s spirit of family. We were received most warmly by the French people on our route, who were fascinated by the challenge.”

Thanks go in particular to our wonderful coach driver, Keith Price from Catteralls, the route master general, Peter Griffin and French liaisons, Andy Compton, Alison Gallagher and Miriam Isaacs.

The cyclists raised over £1,500 in aid of their chosen charity, Mary’s Meals, amazingly enough to feed over 100 children at Makalunga Primary School in Malawi for a year.

If you would still like to support them please go to their fundraising page here.

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Little Crackers Nursery Celebrates Natural New Look

On Wednesday 18 September Little Crackers Nursery invited Warwickshire Wildlife Trust into school to help celebrate the nursery’s exciting ‘back to nature’ makeover.     

Over the summer holidays Little Crackers Nursery, at Crackley Hall School, has been transformed with a new natural look in its spacious rooms that includes new furniture, flooring, decoration and a completely new indoor/outdoor Garden Room with a decked area, a sunken sand pit, a glazed roof and retractable folding doors that open up to the woods behind.

In the morning the nursery’s Parent and Toddler group, Stay ‘n’ Play, explored the new look accommodation and took part in wildlife themed activities in the bright rooms.  Outside they went into the school’s woods and joined in wildlife themed activities run by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The children really enjoyed searching for toy hedgehogs and making hedgehog homes.

In the afternoon the nursery children had their own party, with wildlife activities inside that included snail studies, bird watching and woodland craft before also joining Warwickshire Wildlife Trust outside for some wonderful Woodland Fairy Folk fun.

The summer makeover has also seen improvements to the front nursery playground and the nursery children are now enjoying regular visits to the newly opened woodland at the back of the main school.  The ‘back to nature’ summer makeover means that the children now enjoy outdoor learning experiences in three very different settings.

To celebrate the new look Little Crackers has adopted new animal names to reflect the ‘back to nature’ theme, with the Terrific Twos becoming Dormice, the Thrilling Threes changing to Hedgehogs and the Fabulous Fours transforming into Badgers.

Comments Susan Glen-Roots, Assistant Head – Early Years and Key Stage 1, “This is an exciting project which will transform our children’s experiences in nursery.  A more natural environment inside creates a sense of calm whilst stimulating interest and providing the children with a blank canvas in which to learn and develop. This, coupled with more opportunities to take their learning outdoors and explore the wonders of the natural world will reap fantastic rewards in terms of self-confidence, imagination and physical development.”

The Warwickshire Wildlife Trust had lots of fun with the youngsters helping them explore the natural surroundings and encouraging their interest in wildlife.  

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Superb Aerial Views Of The College

Many thanks to a member of our support staff, Keren Andrews, for sharing these wonderful aerial photos of the College in all its glory with us. Keren and her family had won a very special flight from Coventry Airport in a four-seater plane and in glorious sunshine in mid September they flew over the College and on down to Southam and back enjoying fantastic visibility all the way. They could see across Warwickshire as far as the Malvern Hills!

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Countdown To Entrance Exams For September 2020 Entry

With just five weeks to go now, the countdown to the College's Entrance Exams for admission in September 2020 is well underway. This year the exams for Year 7 to 10 entry will take place on Saturday 9 November from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

Our friendly Admissions Team have been kept busy over the summer and so far this term accepting registrations for the examinations from prospective parents. 

The College now needs registrations as soon as possible to enable the seeking of references from junior schools before the Admissions Panel sits.

Comments Melanie Butler, Assistant Head, Marketing, Admissions and Communications, "Interest is at an all time high, we had a very busy Open Morning last week. The results of the examinations will be out for the end of November, making for an exam-free Christmas holiday, which has got to be good news."

For more information on the admissions process click here to visit our Admissions Update newsletter.

If you have any queries relating to admissions please feel free to email the Registrars at admissions@princethorpe.co.uk or call them on 01926 634201.

Latest Admissions Update Newsletter Now Available

The latest edition of the College's Admissions Update e-newsletter was published in September. 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 spring 2020.

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.

Latest Editions Of The Pinnacle And Minnacle Showcase Super Work

The latest edition of the Pinnacle was published at the end of the Trinity term.  It showcased ability and flair across many subjects and year groups, including an award winning poet and a number of Princethorpe's budding sports stars. It also includes some superb examples of Modern Foreign Languages work and there is coverage of the wonderful GCSE and A-level Art and Photography, which appeared in our Summer Art, Photography and Design Show.

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

Click here if you would like to download a copy of The Pinnacle, here Crackley Hall's Minnacle and here for Crescent School's Minnacle.


Old Princethorpians Events Calendar 2019-20

We have great pleasure in unveiling the OPs' events calendar for the forthcoming academic year.

This year's calendar features some of our regular favourites including the Saturday Brunch on 12 October, this year open to both former parents and Old Princethorpians. The popular London and local meets return with a spring meet in Rugby, upstairs at Inside the 22 on Friday 6 March and an early summer gathering in London's Covent Garden in a private room at French restaurant, Balthazar on Friday 15 May.

The OPs' Summer Supper Reunion will take place on Friday 26 June 2020, this time celebrating the leavers of 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010, although leavers of other years are also most welcome.

All OPs, past parents and staff are welcome to participate in any or all of the events. Click here to download the calendar or visit Princethorpe Connect, our new online community to register and book on events.

Click here to download the calendar or visit the events on Princethorpe Connect to register for upcoming events. 

OPs And Former Parents Brunch

Saturday 12 October 2018 10.30am - 12.30pm

This year we are again offering OPs and former Parents the opportunity to visit the College and catch up over a croissant or two. As well enjoying a leisurely complimentary brunch (served until 12.00 noon) visitors will be able to watch Rugby against RGS Worcester and Girls Hockey against KEHS, and take an optional tour of the school campus.  

OPs and Parents will have spent a considerable amount of time at Princethorpe over the years, and may be missing their involvement in school life. The Old Princethorpians' Association organises the brunch as an opportunity for all to reconnect with both the College and each other in an informal, friendly environment.

If you would like to attend please register on Princethorpe Connect or RSVP with the number in your party and any special dietary requirements to oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk or call the OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, on 01926 634284 by Monday 7 October.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please spread the word!



Arts Society - Autumn Term 2019 Programme - Who Was Dante Anyway?

Tuesday 15 October - 7.30pm

In advance of the 700th anniversary in 2021 of Dante’s death in exile, this illustrated talk, by Margaret Louise O'Keeffe, which is the first of three lectures, will provide an introduction to Dante Alighieri, the greatest Italian writer of them all, an extraordinary personality who lived a remarkable life in particularly turbulent times.

Dante was a passionate human being who can inspire, entertain, educate and profoundly move us with the beauty of his language and imagery, the power of his imagination, the control of his material, the intensity of his emotions and the magnificent array of his characters and stories.

Active in the literary and political life of his beloved home city of Florence, Dante's heart was captured by Beatrice Portinari who died young in 1290. His enduring love for Beatrice became the bedrock of La Vita Nuova, (The New Life), and perhaps the main inspiration for his masterpiece La Commedia, (now known as The Divine Comedy).

The talk will take place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 15 October 2019 in the Sixth Form Lecture Theatre followed by wine and light refreshments in The Atrium.

Tickets may also be purchased at the door; but advance notice helps catering, please. Princethorpe, Crackley Hall and Crescent School pupils free of charge. We are happy to receive provisional bookings by e-mail, please, at alexdarkes@princethorpe.co.uk

For a booking form please click here

The other illustrated talks will take place on Tuesday 21 January 2020 and Tuesday 12 May 2020 - please save the dates.


Sixth Form Open Evening

Wednesday 16 October - 6.30pm to 9.00pm

Year 11 pupils and their parents are warmly invited to the Sixth Form Open Evening on Wednesday 16 October 2019 from 6.30pm to 9.00pm.

The evening will focus on the key events and dates in the Sixth Form application process, specific A-level subject information with advice provided by the Heads of Departments and general information on the Sixth Form experience at Princethorpe.

It will include brief talks from Ed Hester, Ben Collie, Head of Sixth Form, and some current members of the Sixth Form in the Clarkson Theatre.

External candidates are very welcome at the event, so please do help spread the word.


Entrance Examinations Day For September 2020 Entry (Years 7 to 10)

Saturday 9 November 2019 - 9.30am to 3.30pm

The College's Entrance Examinations will be taking place in November.  Those wishing to register their child for the Entrance Examinations should now do so as soon as possible, to facilitate the gathering of references from junior schools. Registration forms are available from the Registrar, Mrs Vanessa Rooney on 01926 634201 or email admissions@princethorpe.co.uk.

Entrance Examinations for 11+, 12+, 13+ and 14+ entry will take place on Saturday 9 November 2019 from 9.00am to 3.00pm. More information is available on our website, click here.

Prize Giving Ceremony And OPs Pre-Drinks Reception

Friday 22 November 2019 - 6.30pm to 7.15pm (Pre-Drinks) and 7.30pm to 9.30pm Prize Giving Ceremony

This year's Prize Giving will be held on Friday 22 November in the Butterworth Hall at Warwick Arts Centre, beginning at 7.30pm.

Traditionally, the vast majority of last year’s Upper Sixth return to collect their A-level examination certificates.  Most will have embarked on their first year at university, apprenticeship, employment or gap year and this is an opportunity for the class of 2019 to catch up.

The OPs Committee hosts a special Drinks Reception before the ceremony for the Upper Sixth leavers, their parents and other invited guests. This is a very popular occasion and we have a limited number of seats available for any other OPs who would like to join us for the Pre-Drinks at 6.30pm and later for the ceremony itself.

To secure your seat please RSVP with the number in your party, stating that you are an Old Princethorpian, to carmelhopkins@princethorpe.co.uk by Friday 8 November please.


Crescent School Open Events

Crescent School Reception Open Evening

Tuesday 19 November 2019 - 7.00pm to 8.00pm

Crescent School, Princethorpe's junior school and nursery in Bilton, Rugby, is having a specific Reception Open Evening on Tuesday 19 November from 7.00pm to 8.00pm. Parents are being encouraged to apply now for places in Reception in 2020.

This is an opportunity to look around the Reception class and to meet and talk informally to staff. There will be a short presentation at the beginning of the evening and light refresments will be available.

Crescent School Open Day

Friday 24 January 2020 - 10.00am - 3.00pm

This is a great chance to look around the school during a normal working day and to chat to staff and pupils. Light refreshments will be available.

If you can't make the school's Open Evening or Open Day but would like to look around, please call our Registrar, Mrs Helen Morley on 01788 523851 and come on a day to suit you, we welcome visitors on most days.

For more information please see our Admissions Update.

Crackley Hall School And Little Crackers Nursery Open Events

Crackley Hall Nursery And Reception Open Evening

Thursday 21 November 2019 - 7.00pm to 8.00pm

Crackley Hall, Princethorpe's junior school and nursery in Kenilworth, is having a specific Nursery and Reception Open Evening on Thursday 21 November from 7.00pm to 8.00pm. Parents are being encouraged to apply now for places in Reception in 2020.

This is an opportunity to look around the Nursery and the Reception class and to meet and talk informally to staff.  There will be a short presentation at the beginning of the evening and light refresments will be available.

Crackley Hall School Open Day

Thursday 23 January 2020 - 10.00am - 3.00pm

This is a great chance to look around the school and nursery during a normal working day. Come and visit the classrooms and chat to staff and pupils. Light refreshments will be available.

If you can't make the Open Evening or the Open Day but would like to look around, please call our Admissions Secretary, Mrs Jenny Vaughan on 01926 514444 and come on a day to suit you, we welcome visitors on most days.

For more information please see our latest Admissions Update.

PTA Christmas Fair

Sunday 1 December 2019 - 2.00pm to 4.30pm

The College's annual PTA Christmas Fair will take place on Sunday 1 December from 2.00pm to 4.30pm.

As well as the 'must visit' Old Princethorpians stand, there will be an array of stalls full of present ideas, games and activities, festive music and refreshments plus, of course, Santa in his grotto!

We can't promise snow but there will be lots of Christmas bargains.

This is a lovely opportunity to visit the College at a weekend and all the family are very welcome to come along.

OPs Local Meet

Friday 6 March - 6.30pm to 10.30pm 

The OPs annual Local Meet takes place on Friday 6 March 2020. This year we will be meeting upstairs at Inside The 22, on Lawrence Sheriff Street, Rugby, CV22 5EJ.  

The OPs Commitee will be laying on a delicious hot and cold buffet, so do let us know registering at Princethorpe Connect or by emailing oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk if you are able to attend so we can cater for you.

Partners and friends are most welcome. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Princethorpe College Open Events

Tuesday 17 March 2020 - 10.30am - 12.30pm

The College will be holding an Open Morning on Tuesday 17 March from 10.30am - 12.30pm.  

All are welcome to visit the College to look around the school on a normal working day. Year 8 and 9 pupils will act as tour guides and light refreshments will be available. 

Wednesday 3 June 2020 - 6.30pm - 8.30pm 

The College's annual Summer Open Evening will take place on Wednesday 3 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. Light refreshments will be available.

Please do spread the word amongst friends and family, all are very welcome! 




Old Princethorpian Interview

Tim Douglas

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

I live in Rugby but have been lucky enough to live and work all over. I’m a Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer for Propertymark, and lead on all their campaigns. Propertymark is a professional body so I work with its members to help them understand key legislative changes and I also lobby across local authorities, Westminster and the devolved parliaments and assemblies to help shape the rules for property agents, landlords and tenants.

Age: 33

When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to? 1997 - 2004

What was the school like in your day?

I’ve recently come back to the school to help with the Capital Campaign for the new Science Building, and it’s great to see recent improvements. When I started, we had boarders and when I left the AstroTurf had just been built. The Sixth Form back then had just two small rooms on the first floor and the tuck shop used to sell a lot of chocolate bars – mainly Chomps! It was, and still is, a great school.

How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

I still love rugby and sport, having only recently stopped playing semi-professional rugby. Ending up working in policy and politics will probably come as no surprise to my old teachers, as I always enjoyed expressing my views, a good debate and public speaking.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Probably to wear less hair gel.

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

My parents and my older brother are a big influence and always on hand to give me advice and support what I am doing. My old rugby coach, Mike Umaga also helped me a lot and radical thinker Guy Verhofstadt has motivated me politically.  

What keeps you awake at night?

Staying up to watch Newsnight.

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

I’ve worked in Westminster for an MP, won National Two with Nuneaton RFC and completed a Masters distance learning whilst working full time, but my proudest achievement was being elected as a local Councillor in 2016 for the ward where I grew up. 

What’s your biggest indulgence?

White chocolate buttons.

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

My mum makes a cracking Shepherd’s Pie.

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

Sitting in Lyon with my girlfriend Laura and a glass of red. We recently visited and it’s a lovely city.

Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

I was lucky to have so many great friends and amazing opportunities – playing rugby for the county and Midlands, the Christmas production and I played violin in the school orchestra. It’s also great to see that the House polo shirts that I and the other prefects introduced are still being worn. Getting to do the double of Head Boy and Captain of the First XV was very busy, but what a great experience.

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

I’m still very good friends with Michael Thomas, Chris Lee and I attended David Moroney’s wedding last year.

Is there anyone you would like to track down?

It would be great to know what some of the old teachers are up to and that the rugby team is still winning and beating our local rivals.

Births, Deaths & Marriages

Engagement for OP Toby Harper-Lawrence and Emma Munns

Congratulations to Toby Harper-Lawrence, who left Princethorpe College in 2014, and Emma Munns who announced their recent engagement.

Comments Toby, "We met at university through the Christian Union and we are now both working part time for St. Swithins Church in Lincoln.

I am also working part time in a school and Emma is working part time on a trauma and orthopaedic ward as a nurse. Our wedding is planned for May 2020 in Lincoln."



Wedding Bells For Clark and Lucy McCallum

Congratulations to Clark and Lucy McCallum who got married on 10th August 2019 at All Saints Church in Stretton-on-Dunsmore.

Clark, comments, "It was an amazing day shared with some of my great friends from Princethorpe College along with family and friends. We are both very excited for the future.

We wish the happy couple all the very best.

Summer Wedding For Grace Pugh

Congratulations to Grace Pugh (leaver of 2008) and Will Hale on their recent summer wedding.

Grace writes, "Will and I got married at St Mary’s Church, Carlton-on-Trent on the 29th June 2019.

The wedding reception was held in a marquee in the grounds of Carlton Hall in the beautiful sunshine. It was a real family occasion with my brothers Michael and Tom acting as ushers, my sister Hannah as chief bridesmaid and Will’s brother as best man. We had the most wonderful day celebrating with our family and friends."

We wish them all the best for the future.

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Amy Thorne Marries Calum Davidson

Many congratulations to Amy Thorne who left Princethorpe in 2009 and married Calum Davidson in Edinburgh in March 2019.

The wedding service took place at the historic Greyfriars Kirk with the wedding reception at the Waldorf Astoria: the Caledonian Hotel.

Amy met Calum when she was studying for her Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh. She is a Social Worker working for Edinburgh City Council.

Amy’s bridesmaids were her best friends and Old Princethorpians, Lucy Coulson and Becci Morris. Lucy is a Barrister and Becci is a Pharmacist. The girls still share many happy memories of their days at Princethorpe, including their Gold Duke of Edinburgh experience.

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Vicky and Tom Ellis Welcome A Daughter

On Friday 27 September at 06:12am, Tom and OP Vicky Ellis, nee Smith, welcomed their baby daughter Sadie Ellis into the world, weighing 7lbs 3oz. 

Congratulations and best wishes to them all.



RIP Mark Rowley

Sad news reached the Old Princethorpians in September of the sudden passing of OP Mark Rowley, aged 54 years. Mark was at the College from 1978 to 1981.

His funeral took place on Friday 27 September at 2.00pm at Poole Crematorium.

Mark’s widow Kate was keen for Gavin Parish, John Beauchamp and Neil Surmon to be informed, so if you are in touch with any of them we would be grateful if you could make them aware.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mark's family and friends.

Katie Jensen Welcomes Baby Otto

OP Katie Jensen (nee Scott) and husband James share news of their latest family addition.

A son, Otto Jensen, was welcomed into the world on Wednesday 18 September 2019 at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. 

Congratulations, Katie and James!

Memory Bank

The Air Cadets Return To Princethorpe

This autumn the Air Cadets have returned to Princethorpe College as one of Coventry’s oldest Air Cadet Squadrons, 84 (Coventry Airport) Squadron, formed 75 years ago in 1945 and based at Coventry Airport since 1963 has relocated to the College campus.

Princethorpe has previous connections to the Air Cadets having been the home of a Detached Flight of Southam 2028 Squadron back in the early 1970s, which went on to become 2514 Princethorpe Squadron, so the College is delighted that 84 Squadron is choosing to make its new home with us.

Trawling through the archives has uncovered plenty of fascinating references to the Air Cadet’s previous incarnation here.     

First mention is way back in July 1969 when the Southam Air Training Corps Officers and Cadets visited the College to give a talk to the boys, the talk was followed up with a visit to 2028’s headquarters in Southam.  The first pupils joined the squadron in the September with the creation of a Detached Flight based here at the College (one that is too small to operate individually so instead acts as a satellite of a larger squadron).

By February 1970 the boys had received their first uniforms and by April most had their First Class Wings, showing they had completed their initial training, allowing them to visit RAF camps for events.  By July 1970 the Detached Flight had had four NCOs based at Princethorpe who took on the training of the boys.

In January 1971 the ATC got its first headquarters in the village at the ‘Old School’.  Previously they had been meeting in classrooms (and in the tower briefly). 

The air cadets took part in many different activities with gliding, flying, shooting, night exercises and even morse code mentioned alongside the regular drills, lectures and parades. They also enjoyed visits to RAF camps and there is even mention of the Air Cadet international exchange programme.

In March 1973 the Detached Flight was visited by Squadron Leader Swift with regards to becoming an independent squadron and shortly afterwards they became 2514 Princethorpe Squadron.

Members of the ATC are also mentioned in the Prize Giving Programmes from 1971-1974.

In 1975 Flying Officer Penn (who appears to have been involved from the start of the ATC) left to join another squadron in Coventry. He was replaced by Flying Officer Hall. According to the article at that time there were 20 boys from Forms C to E involved in the Air Training Corps and it was a stable number. They had plans to refresh their HQ and build a new cadet room after exams.

From there the story goes cold as there is then no further mention of the Air Training Corps in any magazine or Prize Giving Programme after 1975.

Southam 2028 Squadron’s website refers to 2514 Princethorpe Squadron, stating that in school holidays cadet members often disappeared to the four corners of the globe, sometimes never returning, and attributes the squadron’s demise in part to that.

Extracts from the archive can be seen here:

1969 The Tower - Story of the RAF

1971 Prize Giving Programme

1971 Princethorpe - The Sky's The Limit

1972 Prize Giving Programme

1972 Princethorpe - ATC and Trip to Shawbury

1973 Prize Giving Programme

1973 Princethorpe - The Air Training Corps

1974 Prize Giving Programme

1975 Princethorpe - Air Training Corps

Do you know what happened to the squadron?  Or can you tell us any more about their previous time here at the College?  Our archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, would be delighted to hear from you please email her at janetteratcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk.

And if you know anyone who would be interested in joining the Air Cadets then 84 Squadron will be meeting every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning at the College, further information is available from oc.84@aircadets.org or visit https://www.facebook.com/84SqnATC/


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Update from the Archive

Our archivist Janette Ratcliffe gives an insight into her role...

You might be forgiven for thinking from recent ‘Updates from the Archives’ that I spend all my days cataloguing. For this edition, I thought that I would share an equally interesting part of my job, which is using the archives to research and promote the history of the College.

One of the key parts of my role is using the archives to answer enquiries. Some of the interesting enquiries I have had in the past year include:

  • Finding the names of Princethorpe men that were killed in World War I before the Year 8 History trip to Belgium and the Somme at the end of June. Year 8 were then able to pay their respects to Private Leonard Tracey who died in 1916 and was listed on the Thiepval Memorial. Leonard Tracey had worked on the grounds at the Priory.
  • We regularly get requests for information about or from past pupils. The son of a past pupil contacted me to see if I had information about his mother’s time here when it was St Mary’s Priory. I was delighted to be able to share multiple references to his mother from the Peeps magazine which showed her to be a talented artist, scans of handwritten articles by her from the Junior Debating Society magazines, an image of her name on the hockey trophy from when she was awarded her colours in 1951, and even a photograph of her that was in the one of the albums. Her son was thrilled as it far surpassed his expectations.
  • If you have visited the college recently, you will have spotted the scaffolding around the clock tower in what was the original chapel at the Priory (which has been a study hall, library, sports hall and theatre in its time since the MSCs opened Princethorpe College). A straightforward enquiry about the original colour of the clockfaces turned out to be anything but simple. It turns out that the current clock was purchased in July 1861 by Reverend Charles Comberbach, who was Chaplain here from 1849 until 1863. It replaced a 30-hour turret clock that was already in place and it had a slate face, 4 feet in diameter. It was bought from William Roskell, Late Robert Roskell and Sons, in Liverpool. It appears that the clock acquired its distinctive blue and gold faces when it was renovated in 1959 at a cost of £400 for Reverend Mother Mary Augustine’s Golden Jubilee. What I haven’t been able to discover is where the black and gilt clock faces that are stored here at the college fit in – did they replace the slate face and were they then replaced again by the current blue and gold ones? If you know the answer, please do let me know.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, I answered 113 enquiries, compared to the 61 I received in my first year here in 2017-2018. The number of external enquiries also more than doubled between the two years.

By the time this newsletter is published, all six of the new Year 7 classes will have had an ‘Introduction to the History of Princethorpe College’. Alongside the talk, they will have looked at a selection of items from the archives and considered what it tells us about the life at the school and the pupils will have thought about what they would like to add to an archive to tell future generations about themselves. This is the first year that I have been involved as part of the Year 7 induction process and I am really excited to see what ideas the pupils come up with.

The Princethorpe Foundation archives now has its own Twitter account. It can be found at @PFdn_Archives and I will be sharing extracts and images found within the archives regularly. It would be great to get lots of Old Princethorpians following it and I am always open to suggestions for the types of content you would be interested in seeing – you can contact me at janetteratcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk

Also, a reminder that you can find our catalogue at archives.princethorpe.co.uk. If you spot a gap in our records that you can fill, please do get in touch. I am able to scan and return your originals if you would prefer to keep them.

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Missing & Found

Alan And Ian Reconnect After 40 Years

Hong Kong based OP Alan Young had been wanting to reconnect with fellow past pupil Ian Higham for many years. A chance contact with another OP, Ian Watts, who is now based in Chicago, over the Summer Supper, brought Ian's name up in conversation and through the magic of the OPs network and Facebook the pair were put back in touch earlier this summer.

Alan comments, "Ian Higham shared the boarding room with me and Martin Smith back in 1978 when I was in Form 5, just nine months before the GCE O level exams.

Ian corrected my English every time I got it wrong and we played in the Chapel each Sunday. I used to play guitar and he sang the hymns. We sadly lost contact after GCEs until recently when Melanie, the OPs Secretary, reconnected us. Through Ian, I am now able to connect with Martin Smith too. It’s so nice to be able to be back in touch with each other after 40 years."

OP Updates

What Has Happened To Hong Kong?

Dear Old Princethorpians,

What has happened to Hong Kong? A simple question that keeps most citizens up at night these days. I thought of this long and hard the past few days and concluded that there is no simple answer to this seemingly simple question?!

The simple cause, or fuse, if one chooses to believe, is the well intended proposed amendment of our law to allow extradition of criminals to face prosecution in Taiwan, China etc. How and who took advantage of the simple law amendment proposal and turned it into present political agenda since early June is way too complicated for my simple mind to understand. My daily readings from both sides only lead me to believe that fake news is a way of life these days, and there are forces at work behind the scene to portrait their 'truth' to the audience. I do not know what happened to unbiased reporting, but I am 100% sure the news agencies, from main stream newspapers to bloggers are mostly biased and often choose to report what fits the story that they are selling the public.

Since the supposedly most effective way to collect accurate unbiased facts is no longer available, it seems logical to collect as much information as possible, read both sides of the story, and then try to make sense of it? Unfortunately, the information available is so overweeningly unrestrained, it only serves to fuel the confusion! When one thinks to have 'seen it with our own eyes' when shown a video clip of an incident, usually one finds another 'truth' of the same incident recorded by another video clip?! Amazing video editing capabilities by some unsavoury characters, no doubt.

There are numerous theories as to who is behind this so called freedom movement that are equally confusing. From the initial claim on individual freedom and democracy seekers band together by a common cause, to cynical suggestions of the freemasons, the CIA, the Real Estate Barons, and George Soros wanting to destabilize Hong Kong/China in seek of political, economical, or personal gains. While the real truth might never be known or proven, my personal feeling is the analogy of the Great Migration in the Safaris - we do not know which spices started the movement, but the predators are sure to benefit from the event? May be Hong Kong just happens to be the feeding ground at the moment?

Looking externally for a reason can really get one's head spinning and keep you up all night. I tried. Maybe it is time to forget about external forces we cannot control, and start to think about what went wrong internally, in Hong Kong, among our brothers and sisters, our families and friends, our Government, our Legislative Council, our media, our education, our religious beliefs, and our legal system? How does a Police Force that ranks among World Top Five and have a approval rating of over 80% in Februaru 2019, become what the rioters choose to hate so much in just a few short months? How do some schools, universities, and religious institutions tolerate violence and sometimes even promote hatred? How come our dysfunctional Legislative Council failed to work with our Government for the people and by the people? How our Government failed in our long term plan and system upgrades such as housing supply, patriotic education, and law reform?

Again, too many why's with very little clear and simple answers. I am afraid this is undoubtedly the darkest moment of our city since the hand over in July 1997. As a law abiding citizen, and tax player, born and raised in Hong Kong, I can only state that it saddens and worries me enormously to see my beloved city, my home, my community under seige. While I have no idea on the real reason for such madness to continue. Do not understand how rioting, destroying public properties, and attacks on innocent bystanders can be the answer to anything. I am absolutely sure it will be a very, very long road to recovery, if we can recover, and the scar left will haunt us for generations.

When we attended Princethorpe, one of my favorite classes was Fr.Kennedy's Bible Study. Apart from the Irish coffee in the class, one of the class teachings that benefited me to this day is his teaching on faith and repentance. It seems fitting to me that we need to have faith in our resilience and love for our city, and we much seek for our future through repentance and self-reflection?

God bless and pray for Hong Kong.

Yours sincerely

Nelson Ngai (1979)
Alan Young (1981)

Owen O’Shea Shares His Rollercoaster Life Journey

Having just turned 40, Owen O’Shea who left Princethorpe in 1998 wrote to the Old Princethorpians over the summer, wanting to share his rollercoaster life journey with us and to reconnect with Moira Weir, his English Teacher who had so inspired him.

He is now Dr O’Shea and CEO and Principal Research Scientist at The Centre for Ocean Research and Education based in the Bahamas.  We were relieved to hear that Owen and the Centre had escaped largely unscathed from Hurricane Dorian’s rampage, though sadly many thousands did not.

Owen takes up the story:

I left England in 2002 to go travelling for a year and am, essentially, still on that journey. In this period, the longest I spent back in the UK was three months between October 2003 and January 2004.  

During these travels, I had learnt to SCUBA dive, and so became obsessed with the ocean and the concept that creatures existed and ecosystems thrived out of sight, beneath the oceans' waves. A kind of secret yet romantic notion of a hidden world, yet so fundamentally important for our own world. After around 19 months and 11 countries later I returned to the UK, and after a two-week stint in a call centre that consumed me with depression, and a yearning for the adventure I had just left, I accepted an offer to go stay with my mother who had since moved to Cornwall. I felt a change of the familiar, somewhere new with no historical record in my brain or memory would perhaps appease this overwhelming feeling of being just totally lost in life. 

I had left Princethorpe College in the summer of 1998 after six years, with average GCSE scores, two appalling A-levels, a suspension and a failed academic career at Thames Valley University where I was kicked out after one semester for attending zero classes or exams. So, come the autumn of 2003, I felt I was starting again, and the realisation that this was all my own doing - or lack thereof - was a harsh reality. 

The oceans and her creatures were the fantasies I withdrew into during this time; SCUBA diving in Cornwall, and developing my skills by taking further classes and reaching PADI Rescue diver became my goals and focus. And so, rather impulsively, one day, I made a decision to apply to study undergraduate Marine Science at university - in Australia (where I had spent the greatest proportion of my time travelling). 

I applied to ten universities all over the country for an anticipated January 2004 start. I was turned down by nine, considering my academic record at that point, and the fact I was applying as an international student. However, one university had recently (at that time) established a brand new program called 'Uni-Gateway' which was designed for people in my position - those without the A-levels, and so after speaking with the university an offer of enrolment was made for me to join their BSc programme with a major in Marine Biology, conditional on my taking and passing A-level Maths, Chemistry and English. The deal was I would arrive at campus two months before the semester started, and undertake these three courses as intensives, and subject to passing all three, I would be admitted into their Bachelors programme. Failure, at this point was not an option.

That school was James Cook University in Townsville, North Queensland, and later I would come to learn, probably the best in the world for undergraduate Marine Science.  

Never had I worked so hard: six days a week full time, plus additional evening classes needed for the Maths element, no respite, tears, beers and fears and an emotional journey like no other as failure of even one of these classes meant my visa would be cancelled and I would be back on the slow, arduous journey back home, and probably back to that call centre. But during this journey, I became engrained in a small group of people and we formed strong bonds; young people from all over the world trying to do the same thing as me. I was awarded an HD (High Distinction > 85%) for English, a C (Credit > 65%) for Chemistry and a P (Pass > 50%) for Maths. And so, my undergraduate Marine Biology journey started. 

I achieved one of the highest grade point averages in my third year, and was listed on the Dean's list of academic achievement. I had met a lady and became so obsessed with academic success, marine science and environmental conservation. Due to this GPA, I was invited to submit a research proposal for a post-graduate 'honours' program that is the equivalent of a UK MSc and I was successful in my application. So, in 2006 I graduated with a BSc with a major in Marine Biology from James Cook University and I then started my first post-graduate degree in January of 2007. I was married in March of 2007 and after a rigorous 10-month program of applied marine research, I wrote and submitted a 22,000 word, five-chapter thesis entitled 'The ecology of cleanerfish and their clients'. 

After a gruelling peer review process, an exit seminar and a poster presentation I was graded on my efforts and in December of 2007, I was awarded the highest honour for this program – A first class, and began working on my very first manuscript, which I submitted to peer review and eventual publication shortly afterwards (Tide-related periodicity of manta rays and sharks to cleaning stations on a coral reef). January 2008 saw my new wife - Michelle - and I move to Perth, Western Australia as she pursued her career in Hydrogeology, and I promptly got a position as a research technician at The University of Western Australia, and later started working for the Marine Ecosystems Branch of the WA government's Department for Environment and Conservation. We were approved for a mortgage, adopted a labrador from a shelter and I was awarded almost half a million dollars in international graduate scholarships to enable me to begin a PhD program at Murdoch University in Perth's southern suburbs, in a project sponsored by the Australian Federal Government's tropical marine research agency, The Australian Institute of Marine Science - AIMS. 

I had published the paper from my honours thesis - life was good. I started my PhD in March 2009 and after three years and ten months I handed in a 55,000 word, nine-chapter thesis entitled 'The ecology and biology of stingrays (Dasyatidae) at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia’. I presented my thesis to the American Elasmobranch Society meeting in Vancouver in 2012 and I was officially conferred in March 2013; publishing my entire thesis within six months. After several months of unsuccessfully applying for post-doctoral positions, academic tenure and marine consultancy roles, Michelle was made redundant, and so all of a sudden, we lost our home, security and slowly the fabric of our nice normal lives became frayed and cracks started showing in our marriage and our sanity.

We exhausted dozens of options on how we could pick ourselves back up and regain some traction, and then out of the blue a job opportunity found its way to my very empty inbox. There was a tiny island in The Bahamas called Eleuthera (derived from the Greek word 'freedom') and in south Eleuthera was a research institute and school, and they were seeking candidates with a PhD for position of Research Associate with the Shark Research and Conservation Program, with teaching commitments at their sister organisation and outreach on this tiny, agricultural island 300 miles east of Miami, Florida. 

I went through an exhaustive selection process, including three interviews and eventually I was offered the position some three months after I applied. After discussions with Michelle, we sold our car, all our furniture and pretty much 90% of our material possessions and packed our lives up into seven cubic meters of branded moving company boxes, sent Bob (the rescued labrador) on ahead of us with his own moving company (:)) and in June of 2013 we moved to a small, impoverished community called Deep Creek in the far south of Eleuthera Island, and I started work at The Cape Eleuthera Institute and Island School. In January 2014 I established my own research program with a focus on stingrays, started taking on graduate students from the UK and the USA, and undergraduate students from Newcastle, Plymouth and Exeter. In December 2016 I was promoted as director of the research program, but in January 2017 I handed in my notice due to a thousand reasons, but ultimately because I felt the time was right to establish my own organisation with a specific focus on providing education to the communities of this wonderful island in which I lived, to build capacity and share my passion for conservation – something really needed here.

And so, The Centre for Ocean Research and Education (CORE) was born. I worked an eight-month notice and during this time developed the website, wrote a business plan, started garnering interest and investment, and on the 1st September 2017, I left my professional role as a scientist after four years and two months and set up my own organisation - still on Eleuthera, but in a wonderful little community called Gregory Town, about two hours north and famous for its pineapples. 

Fast forward almost two years to August 2019 and I sit here writing to you. 

So, in the last two years since CORE started, we have gone from a concept and website, to an internationally recognised centre for excellence in marine research and education. 

We have a board of six directors from all over the world and recently acquired our 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, meaning we are a tax exempt public foundation. I serve as the CEO, Principal Research Scientist and Director of Education.

In our first full year of being open and operational (2018) we had almost 600 visitors, including students and visiting scientists come through our doors and I provided free education to almost 300 Bahamian children from the ages of 7 - 18. I currently have several undergraduate and graduate students, both Masters and PhDs, from all over the world, including the Netherlands, the UK and Italy. I am currently managing seven major marine research projects including assessments of seagrass, corals, seahorses, octopus, conch, turtles, sharks and stingrays. I have a fully functioning marine research station and community education centre where we host science events, community outreach presentations, classes and where visiting researchers and collaborators stay. 

We rely significantly on science and education grants, philanthropic donations, in-kind support and in 2018 we were awarded $6,500 in grant monies and we separately raised $13,000 through a go-fund-me campaign to get the building, and to establish our research station. Already for 2019, we have been awarded almost $70,000 in science and education grants to conduct our conservation driven marine research and deliver our education programs to the communities of this wonderful island. However, we are constantly trying to raise money to keep our doors open, fans and lights running, and eventually, one day the plan is that I can take a salary!  

My wife and I separated in 2014, were divorced in 2017 and we remain firm friends as she pursues her own journey in Sydney. I live way out in the bush with solar and rainwater, 100% off grid, with a wonderful Jamaican woman called Petagay and we are celebrating five years together this year. We have two acres, 70 feet of our own private beach and water front and Lenny Kravitz is our neighbour and huge supporter of CORE (seriously). Bob, the Labrador that I rescued in 2008, lives with us, and while he is portly and slow, he is still very much the sweet puppy I rescued 11 years ago.

Currently, I have over thirty published papers, articles and technical reports in peer reviewed, international science journals, including four more currently in review including my very first in the journal NATURE. I have presented my research findings at 15 international conferences since 2011. Have filmed Blue Planet with the BBC and had our work beamed live into over 7,000 schools across the UK as part of their high school learning that you can access here. We have also filmed documentaries with Nat Geo and WIRED and have also published several short documentaries of our own, that you can access here, that perfectly explains who we are and what we are about.  Our first ever annual review for 2018 can be accessed here. Currently, CORE manages projects, educational initiatives and collaborative partnerships with around 12 national and international organisations, universities, institutes and NGOs, including The Smithsonian Institution, The University of Tampa, University of Essex, University of Padova (Italy), Florida International University and the University of The Bahamas.

Our mission is simple: To involve Bahamian students and communities in the data collection process of an Applied Scientific Marine and Environmental Research initiative, that furthers our understanding of ecologically sensitive habitats, ultimately promoting the Conservation of Biodiversity, through Education and Outreach in The Bahamas. 

Turning 40 allowed this introspection, and I am lucky, of course, but I have worked hard, and some that knew me from Princethorpe might have said this whole journey would have been impossible. I hope others can find inspiration from this, by learning that anything really IS achievable if you back yourself and work your arse off. Personally? I am obsessed with cricket, love drinking beer, keep fit and active, have around 60% of my body tattooed, grew my hair out after shaving it for 22 years (starting at Princethorpe and immediately being challenged by Father Whelan), have a huge red beard and have turned into a bit of an old hippy who is deeply content in life. I get to swim in the warm, tranquil, tropical waters every day, teach young people the value of these resources, travel extensively for work, and dictate my own hours.

I was 13 when I started at Princethorpe; Father Sweeney was in his final year, before Father Whelan assumed the head role, and of course I remember Mr Darkes and along with Mr Philpott, Father Terry, Father Mike, Mr Skiffington and Mrs O'Keeffe who were among my favourite 'teachers'/adults. My all-time favourite teacher however, and one who continues to inspire me to this day and is the main motivational reason for me wanting to share my story with you is Moira Weir. 

My time at Princethorpe was tumultuous. I was popular, but academically inferior to almost everyone, was bullied a lot during my first year, but formed life-long bonds with people I now consider my brothers; James Ackrill, Chris and Nick Todd among many, I am still very close with. I felt that many teachers considered me disruptive or a bad influence and I am sure thought that I would make nothing of my life. Perhaps that is what motivated me and propelled me to achieve, albeit six years after leaving.

But, among every teacher, every negative relationship, every bad grade, or terrible life decision I made, including my three-week suspension, Moira Weir I felt, always believed in me, or at the very least believed I had something in me that was worth her time. I adored her, and still to this day, get emotional when I think about my classes with her, and how after all these years, I still think of her often and how she continues to motivate me to be the very best educator I can. I remember everything from her classes, still read TS Elliot's The Wasteland from time to time, and remember all of the Shakespeare we studied.

Thank you, Moira for your inspiration, your love and support and above all, your teaching.

If you would like to learn more about Owen’s work or get involved in his mission at the Centre for Ocean Research and Education click here.

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Laura Brazier Begins A New Adventure In Dubai

Laura Brazier, who left Princethorpe in 2014, updated us as she embarks on a new adventure.

"Having completed a degree apprenticeship at Mondelez International, I decided I wanted to embark on a new path within sales. My research led me to Allsopp and Allsopp, a real estate company based both here in Warwickshire and also in Dubai.

Having successfully secured a job in their Dubai offices I’m starting my new job today, Friday 4 October!

My first two weeks will revolve around training and passing my RERA exam. I will then get into the full swing of things.

It’s been a scary step moving into a new industry and also moving to a country, I have never even been to before.

However, I am very excited to see what the future holds for me at Allsopp and Allsopp out here in Dubai."

We wish Laura every success in her new role.

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OP Awarded National Teaching Fellowship

An eminent professor from Rugby and former Princethorpe pupil, has been given the most prestigious individual award in higher education.

Professor Richard Wilding OBE, who started at Princethorpe in 1976, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by higher education charity Advance HE following a rigorous selection process.

The Rugby resident – a world-renowned Professor at Cranfield University – was one of just 54 academics nationwide to receive the title, which showcases outstanding individuals who teach in UK higher education.

He said: “It is an honour and privilege to receive this national award.

“Teaching and education is not an individual activity, it also reflects on the dedicated professional colleagues I work with at Cranfield and within the logistics, transport and supply chain profession globally.

“Through our educational endeavours we have created significant economic, environmental and societal impact.”

Prof Wilding is Professor of Supply Chain Strategy at Cranfield School of Management and Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

Previously, when winning the Logistics100 award at the annual Logistics Awards in 2017, he said: “Rugby is a critical location for the logistics industry as recent investments demonstrate. I am incredibly proud to live in Rugby and support this industry here.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Cranfield’s Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is richly deserved recognition of Richard’s impact in his 20 years as a member of the Cranfield community.

“His expertise in the logistics, transport and supply chain management is recognised internationally and his contributions to the sector have continued to improve learning and teaching for the benefit of today’s students.”

Nominees for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme are peer-reviewed by teaching and learning professionals, and must provide evidence of reach, value and impact to students, and excellence within the teaching profession.

Each National Teaching Fellow has a role in becoming an ambassador for the scheme and supporting the ongoing enhancement of learning and teaching.

Alison Johns, Advance HE’s chief executive, said: “Becoming a National Teaching Fellow is a huge achievement. It can be truly life-changing.”

Prof Wilding will receive his award at a special ceremony in Manchester on October 16.

Three Familiar Faces Return To Princethorpe

Three Old Princethorpians, Meg O’Gorman, Sophie Jones and Lucy Butler are all adjusting to life on the other side, having returned to work at their former school, Princethorpe College.  Meg is teaching Religious Studies and Sophie and Lucy are training with the Lion Alliance, teaching Maths and Geography respectively.

Meg first came to Princethorpe in 2007 when she joined in Year 8, after she finished Upper Sixth she went on to Durham University to study History, English and Theology (Liberal Arts).  After graduating, she worked on the education programme at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, before working as a cover supervisor at a school in Harrogate and it was there that she decided to go into teaching.

Meg explains, “I studied for my PGCE at York University and then moved back home to Warwickshire and completed my NQT year at Bishop Ullathorne in Coventry.  I am really enjoying being back at Princethorpe and being part of the community again. It is great to work with some of my old teachers, although it took a bit of getting used to being on the other side of school life!”

Sophie started at Princethorpe in Year 10 and left in 2013 after completing A-levels in Maths, Chemistry and Physics.  She went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nottingham and then, for the last two years, worked for Atkins, an engineering consultancy firm, supporting their Aerospace, Defence, Security and Technology business.  This September she commenced her teacher training with the Lion Alliance.

Sophie said, “I’m really enjoying being back at Princethorpe and having so many fantastic teachers helping and supporting me with my training.”

Lucy joined Princethorpe for the Sixth Form.  In 2015 she went on to study Geology with Physical Geography at the University of Birmingham.  After completing her degree, she lived in south west Germany working as an English-speaking educator in a Kindergarten.  Now back in the UK she is training with the Lion Alliance as a Geography teacher,

Lucy commented, “Coming back to Princethorpe has been incredible – it really feels like I have come home.”

We have been delighted to welcome all three back and wish them all well in their new roles here at Princethorpe College.

Rob Rollason Graduates from Swansea

Rob Rollason has updated us on his success at university and his future plans.

He writes, "I finished at Princethorpe four years ago in June 2015, after finishing my A-levels. I secured a place at Swansea University, studying for a BEng Civil Engineering.

Swansea was named the 'Welsh University of the Year' by the Times Good University Guide for the second time in three years, as well as being in the Top 5 for student satisfaction (NSS 2018) and graduate prospects (Guardian University Guide 2020), and most importantly is the closest university to the beach in the world, with the relatively new Bay Campus, where I studied.

I graduated in July, with a 2:2, and have been working on the estates team at Princethorpe over the summer, before I go on my ski season in Alpes D’Huez at the end of November, where I will be working as a chalet host until April. I’m looking forward to this time off from studying before diving into the big bad world of work in the future."

Josh O'Brien Abseils For Alzheimers Research UK

Hard hats off to Josh O'Brien, leaver of 2013, who recently too part in a charity abseil to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

He comments, "I was part of team from Ricoh UK who all descended from the side of Broadgate Tower in London, which is the site of one of our offices. The building is 161m high and the descent took about five minutes, it was fantastic experience and the view of the London skyline was an added bonus.

"The team raised over £2,000 for the charity, which is a superb achievement for such a worthwhile cause."

Class of 1975 Annual Dinner

Lovely to see that the Class of 1975 Annual Dinners are still going strong. Melvin Glynn kindly forwarded this picture of the gang enjoying a catch up in London at the Royal China Club on Baker Street over the summer, thanks as ever to chief organiser Martin Holland.

Pictured are Melvin and his wife, Carole, Martin Holland, Philip (Clem) Clements, Lorenzo Argentieri, Peter Yang (Fat Jack), Rabbi Demelo, P.J.McCormack and Dominic Flynn.

Melvin also brought us up to speed on his company, which has now changed its name to Cheese Innovations, to better reflect their mission to bring excitement to the cheese world.

Lovers of the Golden Jubilee cheese, Princethorpe Blue, will be pleased to hear that it is still going strong, although mostly sold abroad in Malta, Lithuania, Spain and Canada. It can however be found stocked in some small shops in the south of England.

Trip Down Memory Lane For Lawrence Kwoh

Down Memory Lane - some things change, but some things remain the same. 

I attended Princethorpe from 1977 to 1980 when it was still an all-boys boarding school.  It was very different back then compared to what I saw when I visited the school on a bright and unusually warm May this year. 

As I got closer to the school, the imposing clock tower looked the same. It felt as if I had only left the school very recently. Once I stepped inside the front building, the atmosphere felt completely different. The décor was warm and I was impressed with the artwork from the students on the wall - very different from what I remembered. I was greeted by Melanie Butler who showed me around the front office. I also met Headmaster, Ed Hester and Bursar, Eddie Tolcher. The conversations flowed easily and we covered topics ranging from mutual school mates to the transformation that has occurred over the last few decades. It occurred to me that I had never had these kinds of easy conversations when I was in school, perhaps because I am older and I am not a student (in trouble!) sitting in the headmaster’s office.

Next, Melanie had arranged for Fr. Teddy O’Brien to graciously take time out of his busy schedule to show me around the school. For those of you who don’t know Fr. O’Brien, he was the boarding master while I was at Princethorpe. I actually recognised the sound of his footsteps before I recognised him as he walked down the hallway on the cobblestone floor where pictures of Old Princethorpians line up. I think it was from the days when we looked out for Fr. O’Brien in order not to get caught while sneaking around after lights out curfew.

A number of things caught my eyes as Fr. O’Brien showed me around: the chapel still looks immaculately maintained and updated and so is the inner courtyard. 

On the second floor, the boarding rooms now have been converted to offices. There used to be wash sinks outside the rooms where the boys would wash up and now they are gone. Again, I noticed the colour schemes. They seem much warmer in tone than what I remembered.

The cafeteria was the next stop. The food was much better than what we had in our boarding days in terms of the choices, quality and quantity. In the “good” old days, we had a gentleman who prepared meals with probably the assistance of two helpers for some 200 boarders. Looking back, it could not have been an easy job. I liked the round table seating arrangements which makes for better social interaction. We had rows of tables in those days.

I also noted the physical space is much better laid out and I enjoyed touring the new school building, the new gym and the theatre. I was sorry to see that the outdoor swimming pool no longer exists. Last but not least is the fact that the school is now a co-ed institution which would have been unimaginable in our boarding days, but a sign of the times.

I ended the day with a visit to Fr. O’Brien’s residence situated in a neighbouring village. It retains the charming quality of an English village which you normally see on TV, well, at least for someone who lives in the US. One last tidbit I’d like to share with my readers: when I showed the photos of the school, the school uniform and house ties to my daughter, she told me I went to Hogwarts School!

Lawrence Kwoh

Tom Ashley Leaver Of 2018 Takes to the Stage

I recently performed in two shows in the Camden Fringe, as part of my Fourth Monkey Training. This was part of a cult season 909, in which I played a character called Mickey. The performance was about Jim Jones and Jonestown set in the 1970s. My other role was in a performance about David Berg and The Children of God set in the 1960s.

I thoroughly enjoyed performing in both shows and my year spent at Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company. Having come straight out of Princethorpe, it was definitely hard to transition to London life, but the performing made everything worth it. Having never actually been in a show since I was in Year six, it was amazing and something I cannot wait to do again. I am extremely grateful for all the support I have had so far along my journey, however it is only the beginning...

Having graduated from Fourth Monkey, I am now out of training and back in Wellesbourne for the time being. I am currently keeping myself busy with self tapes and auditions, having signed with an agent. I am also auditioning for further training at three year courses at drama schools. 

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Visit Impresses Leavers Of 1980s

Earlier in the summer Ian Rudolph and Ian Ingram, leavers of 1987 and 1989 who work in London in the fields of architecture and chartered surveying respectively paid a long overdue visit to the College.

Ian Rudolph takes up the story: 

As a full boarder for seven years at Princethorpe in the 1980s, I have always seen the college as a place of my early formative years. Therefore, I remained curious about how the school itself may have developed. I recently visited the school for a comprehensive tour and enjoyed Friday Fish and Chips!

As a practising architect, who designs schools, I advocate that the building and education philosophy need to work closely together to create an effective learning environment. Our University of Cambridge Primary School and University Training School is a recent example of this happy fusion of architecture and education.

I was impressed that the modifications, improvements, and new additions to the college had not changed the character, spirit and atmosphere of the Princethorpe I knew. More importantly, the modifications create healthy places in which to learn. It’s good to see it remains very recognisable in most parts, yet magically disorientating as ever, as experienced in my first visit when 11 years old! 

A common challenge facing many independent schools is to adapt boarding accommodation into useful spaces for a day school, and also becoming completely co-ed (there were only a handful of girls in the Sixth Form when I was there), and it takes time for all phases to become established. But the educational transformation seems to be almost complete at Princethorpe.

Despite the changes, some areas instantly bring back memories; Switzerland is still as mountainous as I recalled on every cold and wet cross country run; and the library (previously the study hall) remains quietly studious whilst constantly uncovering the history of the old chapel.

I remember having to get to the next class on time, walking the corridors and meandering between buildings, and sometimes arriving late! The walk however brought a connection with nature which still remains, and I now feel biophilic design is essential for any educational campus.  It was great to see the grounds looking so healthy and cared for.

Good luck with the next phase and the new Science block.

Ian Rudolph RIBA

Visita Al Colegio Princethorpe - Contreras Brother Retrace Their Steps

We arrived back at Princethorpe on a sunny August morning with all our family, to show our children and partners the school where we spent five wonderful years in our teens. We met up with Melanie Butler, Chris Lee and Ed MacFetridge, who so kindly took us for a comprehensive tour of the school. It was not the first time that we have been back, but this time we saw significant changes to the school…

During our time at Princethorpe, the school had around 600 pupils and a boarder's section (where we stayed - as our parents lived in Spain), It is with nostalgia that we see that this boarder's section no longer exists, although we fully understand that it's a necessary evolution.

There are now around 900 students in a mostly renewed school, where older rooms and buildings are giving way to new or refurbished facilities. It was great to revisit our time at Princethorpe while commenting on old and shared anecdotes, visiting the chapel, sports-hall, dining room and orchard.

We were impressed by the new Sixth Form building (would have been great to have it back in our time), the updated facilities in the sports hall and the new Science Block project that is underway, it looks impressive and it will certainly bring added value to the school. It is also great to see how many of those members of staff that were there 25 years ago retain links to the school. Whilst the Spanish community keeps a close watch on Ed MacFetridge and Paul Adams, it was great to meet up with Mike Taylor, who is still Head of Geography and see that so many others are still very much involved with the College.

We will try our best to make it to other OP reunions, so that we can all catch-up. We plan to keep connected through the new Princethorpe Connect, a site which many of our other Spanish friends will use too.

Wishing the school the best in the coming years and all OPs, friends and Princethorpians a great start to the academic year!

Juan & Jose Contreras


Elliott Seal Looks Forward To Fifteen Years Reunion

I was the youngest of five brothers who all attended Princethorpe College. I left after completing my A-levels in 2005 and studied a degree at Cheltenham, where I met my future American wife. We were married in 2010 and Cat Burns, a former Head Girl, attended as one of the guests. We are now blessed with a daughter and three boys...possibly some future Princethorpians!

For the last ten years I have been working with three of my brothers in our family business in the Cotswolds, where I look after sales for our export business.

I have excellent memories of Princethorpe College and recently bumped into Mrs O'Keeffe, a former Deputy Head, at Birmingham Airport. She explained that the school has gone from strength to strength.

Next year will be 15 years since I left...maybe our Head Girl will arrange a reunion!

Callum Panton's Travels

On leaving Princethorpe in 2015 I gained entrance to Leeds University, where I began to study Biology. My first year was a rollercoaster ride and it took me a while to adjust to the studying and lifestyle. Once I had fully thrown myself into university life I really thrived, but my course wasn't working for me, so I switched to a Zoology degree to fuel my academic drive. Alongside this academic change I switched from a high involvement in the Snow Sports Society to rowing. I was on the Rowing Society committee and also trained 10 times a week. This helped me build on my passion for sport, which had begun whilst at Princethorpe.

My third year of university was more serious with my dissertation due and a lot of work. Rowing still remained a big part of my life, alongside snow sports, which made for a very productive year.

I graduated with a 2:1 in Zoology which was a very proud moment. After university it was time for me to follow one of my previously mentioned passions of skiing. Over the summer I undertook a cooking course to prepare me for a winter of chalet hosting. I then got a job with a ski company in Courchevel France where I lived for five months. In this time I hosted a 26 person chalet and skied every single day which was absolutely amazing!

Now back from my time in France, I am going travelling around South East Asia and Austrailia for an open ended period of time. This is both exciting and nerve racking, but I am looking forward to the next part of my journey.

OP Fred Dadson Starred In Mojo At The Waterloo East

We were delighted to hear that OP Fred Dadson, who left the College in 2015, starred in the fast-paced black comedy Mojo over the summer. Running for five nights in early August, the production took place at the intimate Waterloo East Theatre in London and saw Fred perform with the newly formed Dogs Out Theatre Company a group of upcoming young actors.

Fred played Baby the psychotic son of the club owner and radiated a menacing aura that gripped the audience as the story unfolded. It was an excellent production by all reports and it was great to hear of Fred's success treading the boards for the first time on the London stage.



Christian’s Hockey Career Started At Crackley Hall

We were delighted to hear that one of Crackley Hall’s past pupils, Christian Starkie, was selected to play hockey for Australia U21s. 

Christian attended Crackley Hall from 2007 to 2011 before moving on to Princethorpe College.  He started playing hockey in Junior 4 when Mrs Vaughan gave him a go in goal at an ISA hockey tournament.  Crackley won the tournament, without conceding a goal, and that was the start of his hockey career.

At Princethorpe, Hockey Coach Colin Dexter took him under his wing and he regularly played for the College and for Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club until April 2013 when he left the school as his family emigrated to Perth in Western Australia.

Over the years, Christian has represented Western Australia at Under 15, Under 18 and Under 21 levels as well as playing for the senior State team.  In April 2018, he represented Australia at the Oceania qualifiers for the Youth Olympics in Papua New Guinea and then in October he played in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In May Chrisitian was selected to play for Australia in an eight-nations invitational tournament that took place in Madrid in June.

Christian’s father, Neil Starkie, shared his news, he said, “Christian’s hockey career started back at Crackley Hall and grew with the brilliant coaching from Dex – Christian knows how much he owes to his coaches in those early days.  Since arriving in Australia his hockey has gone from strength to strength.”

Christian, it was great to hear of your success and to know that it all started at Crackley Hall.