Welcome to the Old Princethorpian newsletter, the Princethorpe Foundation's termly e-newsletter for past pupils, staff and parents, old and new.

Our newsletter aims to keep our alumni in touch with each other and news, developments and events across the Foundation.

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

If you have any comments on the e-newsletter or news to contribute to the next issue, which will be published in February, please email us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.

Stay safe and stay in touch this autumn and we hope to see many of you at events over the next year.


Alumni News

OPs Rise To The Marathon Challenge

Old Princethorpians and members of the College staff were out early on Sunday morning, after months of training and mounds of carbs, they were ready to wind their way around the streets of our capital city in this year's London Marathon.

We gave them a shout out on Facebook last week but just wanted to say congratulations to them all on their super human efforts.

We are aware of several Old Princethorpian runners this year including:

Imo Butler (Class of 2018) who rose to the challenge of this year’s test of endurance for Sarcoma UK. Imogen ran in memory of a family friend Ellen, who sadly lost her battle with sarcoma cancer last year. Having struggled with injuries Imo managed to complete the course in just over 6 hours and you can find out more and support her here.

Rich Sibbick (Class of 1994) ran the virtual 2020 London Marathon last year and took the challenge on for real this time on behalf of the NSPCC, he managed to complete the course in 5 hours 11 minutes and you can find out more and support him here.

Then Joe Holmes (Class of 2014) ran a virtual marathon completing the distance in just 3 hours 40 minutes!

Two staff members also ran the London Marathon:

Assistant Head - Director of Digital Strategy, Andy Compton, ran for the UK Sepsis Trust in memory of his good friend Rich. Andy completed the course in sub 3 hours 45 minutes and you can find out more and support him here.

Head of MFL, Stella Keenan, who missed out on running when last year’s event was cancelled, asked people to support her by donating to the school’s fundraising for Mary’s Meals. She completed the course in 4 hours 30 minutes, you can support her here.

A truly amazing effort by them all!


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Princethorpe Hosts Its Own ‘Any Questions’

Princethorpe College hosted its own ‘Any Questions’ on Thursday 24 June and was delighted to welcome an MP and local councillors to the school.

Conservative MP for Stoke North, and Old Princethorpian, Jonathan Gullis was joined by Jonathan Chilvers, Green Party Councillor for Leamington Brunswick, and Tim Naylor, former Councillor and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Rugby to take part in a panel style question session with the College's  Lower Sixth.

Chaired by Politics and History Teacher, Abi Adams, our visitors answered questions on a range of topics including Climate Change, Child Poverty and Education and it was a great opportunity for the students to listen to and contrast the different points of view.

Organised by Rod Isaacs, Assistant Head of Sixth Form, the event was a part of the school’s CORE programme that encourages Sixth Form students to think critically, logically and constructively about the world in which they live.

Abi Adams said, “Many thanks to our visitors for a very constructive session – we ran out of time before we ran out of questions. Our ‘Any Questions’ was both informative and interesting and will have given our students plenty to think about and discuss.”

St. Joseph’s Class Of ’85 Reunion

We were delighted to welcome a lovely group of past pupils to Crackley Hall after 36 years. Sarah Vasey (nee Dewsberry) contacted us, hoping to visit the school and grounds as part of a reunion with her old school friends who attended St Joseph’s Convent School in the 1980s. We were more than happy to oblige, and Headmaster, Mr Duigan, met with the group of seven on a sunny Saturday afternoon back in August.

Sarah commented on how they were ‘surprised’ by the changes to the grounds and gardens, however they could see the positive additions with the ‘multi-purpose hall, up-to-date music rooms, a lovely Early Years Department and a Forest School in the woods.’ The friends reflected on how the original convent buildings give a ‘sense of history and tradition’ whilst the new, shows ‘the school is moving forward into an exciting future.’

School friends, Sarah, Karen, Sangeeta, Rachel, Christine, Rebecca and Julie, were so grateful to Mr Duigan for giving his time on a Saturday during the holidays. Their visit to the school was followed by a pub lunch and then a walk around Abbey Fields before heading back to the pub for an evening of cocktails and for some, a stay over in a hotel. Even after 36 years, time was of no consequence, and they very much enjoyed laughing and sharing memories of their sixteen-year-old-selves which were extremely positive. Sarah has a particularly fond memory of the orchard in the convent gardens and a specific year when she was chosen to help pick the crab apples. Delighted to miss lessons, Sarah spent the morning in the garden with the nuns who lived in the convent but didn't teach, then joined them in the kitchen to make crab apple jelly. A couple of days later she was given a mini glass jar with her name on that she proudly took home. That Sunday, she remembers eating it with roast lamb and all her family said how delicious it was and how impressed they were with her achievement!

We were thrilled to hear how enjoyable their reunion was. In Sarah’s words, ‘the current pupils are very fortunate to attend Crackley Hall and long may the school continue for future generations of children to benefit from a nurturing and rounded education.’

We look forward to welcoming them, and other past-pupils, back next year for the postponed 75th Anniversary Celebrations. Firstly, the 75th Anniversary Open House and St Joseph's Day Mass on Saturday 19 March 2022 and all-being well, the 75th Anniversary Ball on Saturday 14 May 2022.

If you would like to register your interest for these events, or to add your details to the alumni database, please go to https://connect.princethorpe.co.uk/.


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OPs Sports Day Kicks Off The College's Sporting Calendar For The Year

It was lovely to see so many familiar faces at the OPs vs College Sports Day on Saturday 4 September - this popular annual fixture traditionally kicks off the College’s sporting calendar for the year ahead.

The staff and leavers of 2021 football team started with a great victory over the older OPs. Honours were split in the hockey with the College winning the girls’ match and the OPs coming out on top in the boys’ match. The OPs showed their experience in the netball with a high scoring performance beating the college.

In the OPs v College 1st XV (John Shinkwin Trophy match) the teams, OPs (leavers of 2020 and 2021) and the College played the newly formed version of Ready for Rugby, with the OPs having a fast start and ultimate victory with the College always chasing the game.

The results of the matches were as follows:
Football – Staff/College 3 v OPs 1
Netball – College 16 v OPs 31
Boys’ Hockey – College 1 v OPs 5
Girls’ Hockey – College 3 v OPs 1
Rugby – College 10 v OPs 16

At the After Match Awards, the OPs proudly raised both the Alex Wallis Memorial Shield and the John Shinkwin Cup.

Lee Cassell, Foundation Director of Sport, commented, “It was great to see this day take place after a hiatus due to the pandemic. Once again it showed the true spirt of the Princethorpe community and gave staff, pupils, OPs and parents the opportunity to watch five entertaining matches over the course of the day. A huge well done to all those who played and made the day so special. I look forward to seeing them all again next year on Saturday 3 September 2022 for the next OPs vs College Sports Day.”

It was also lovely to welcome back OP Martin Nwanga (Class of 1986) and his family. It was Martin's first visit back for 35 years and he even brought along his old school scarf, Austin tie and whole school photo. Another OP back for a visit was Edward Hunter (Class of 2006) along with his wife, Emily and 7-month-old baby Hettie. The family were back in the UK after a long stint living and working in Australia.

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

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The Princethorpe Connect Community Now Has Over 900 Members

Princethorpe Connect, the Foundation’s online alumni community, passed another amazing milestone in September with membership numbers reaching 900. Our congratulations go to OP, Ben Fish, whose name was pulled out of the hat as our latest membership prize draw winner.

Ben was pleased to hear the news and to receive a voucher from the Foundation as his prize. Ben left the College back in 2011 and he told us:

‘This year marks 10 years since I left Princethorpe College and thinking about it, I can’t believe where those years have gone. After Princethorpe, I undertook a Real Estate degree in Bristol and I now work as a Chartered Surveyor at Avison Young in Birmingham.

I look forward to attending the rescheduled Old Princethorpians’ Summer Supper Reunion and OP’s Sports Day next year to catch up with old friends and teachers.’

The Foundation is now well on its way to celebrating what will be the huge milestone of 1000 online members on Princethorpe Connect. Our alumni community is a great way to stay in touch with former  pupils, staff and parents and to network with alumni from across the ages.

Using the link below, you can join in, so do sign up and get connected, and you never know you might be the next lucky prize winner!


OP Gina Asks Princethorpe Community To Support Her Clinical Psychology Research

OP Gina Bannister, who left Princethorpe 10 years ago in 2011, has asked from some help from the Princethorpe community with a piece of research she is doing. After leaving Princethorpe Gina went on to study Psychology in Liverpool and she is currently training to be a Clinical Psychologist. For her thesis she’s researching Dads experiences of parenting.

She’s looking for Dads with a child under 2 to complete a short survey about their experiences and how they manage their emotions. It should take approx. 20 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

Comments Gina “We’re hoping that research like this will help towards increasing the support available for Dads in the future.”

If you are interested in assisting with the research just follow the link to find out more and to take part: https://lancasteruni.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2fNrHKmy1rpc0Rw

Mentoring Platform On Princethorpe Connect

Don't forget that our online alumni system, Princethorpe Connect, offers a mentoring platform that allows Old Princethorpians to connect with other alumni and the wider Princethorpe Community to network and seek professional advice.

The mentoring platform currently features over 240 featured mentors who are happy to provide advice to others in the Princethorpe Community. Those looking for a mentor can search based on industry area or employer and send a mentoring request through the platform.

It's a system that allows alumni to easily ask for and offer support for each other. We hope the mentoring platform will be of help to recent Old Princethorpians, but also to those already established in their careers who are looking to expand their professional network.

The mentoring platform is free to use and you can find out more about it here.

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 2021 with OP Friendly Faces across the UK. We've successfully matched leavers heading off to Oxford, Leeds, Exeter, Loughborough, Plymouth, Reading, Nottingham and Edinburgh to name a few, huge thanks to all the Friendly Faces for supporting this important initiative, it really does make a difference to those first few weeks away from home! 

Our OP Friendly Faces has been running for a couple of years now, it 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.  

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We really are delighted that we have been able to match up more of our leavers with OP Friendly Faces. We hope everyone has enjoyed Feshers Week and is enjoying their first few months away from home."




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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.

Don't forget there are also fine art prints and cards of a painting by local artist, Debbie McLaughlin - The Soaring Redbrick Tower. That makes a lovely gift.

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College News

First Review For Princethorpe By Prestigious Good Schools Guide

Princethorpe has received its first ever review by the prestigious Good Schools Guide. The Guide, which selects schools to be included on merit alone, is famous for its unbiased and candid reviews of state and private schools, and is trusted by families worldwide. Princethorpe is now one of just 1,300 schools currently reviewed by the Guide, out of over 30,000+ schools in the UK.

An editor from the Guide visited the College in May, interviewed Ed Hester, the Headmaster, toured the campus, observed lessons and spoke with pupils and parents.

The 2,500-word review, which now appears on the Good Schools Guide’s website and will be included in the next hard copy edition, includes a pen portrait of the Headmaster, plus insights into exam results, teaching and learning, co-curricular life, discipline and the College’s ethos and heritage.

Commenting on the College's approach to pastoral care, the Guide says: 

“There are two rules at the school: be kind and do your best. The whole school runs on this ethos and it appears to be all that is needed as pupils and staff adhere to it. The school is renowned for its pastoral care and kindness. Every parent we spoke to mentioned it and for virtually all of them it was the reason they chose the school. ‘It really is like a family and we are included too.’ These two old fashioned values shape the school. It’s open minded and all are very welcome but the Catholic teaching permeates throughout. Every child is treated as an individual ‘and they really are,’ said parents. The overall feeling that this is a kind school, we would concur.”

The very comprehensive and positive review concludes with a Last Word, which sums up the Guide’s findings:

We have the impression that Princethorpe College just gets on with things, modestly feeling no need to blow its own trumpet. But during the long-term tenure of this head it has gained in confidence, reputation and status and parents have sat up and taken notice. They know that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to educating their children and have found the school that agrees with them; a good outcome for all.

To read in full What the Good Schools Guide says click here.

Comments Ed Hester, Headmaster, “It was a pleasure to welcome the Good Schools Guide to Princethorpe. We are delighted that they have recognised our ‘spirit of family’ and found us to be a ‘kind school’ and that every parent they spoke to was ‘hugely impressed by the diligence and commitment of our staff’. They have successfully managed to get under our skin and paint what we feel is an accurate picture of life at the school.

He continued, "Thank you to all the parents and pupils who kindly spoke to the Guide's editor about their experience of the school."

Princethorpe College Celebrates Excellent Exam Results

In spite of the unprecedented challenges that the last 16 months have presented, Princethorpe College is celebrating another year of excellent exam results.

Out of a cohort of 104 Sixth Form students who completed their A-levels, BTEC and Extended Project Qualification this year, at the top end 55% of all A-level grades were A* or A and overall 95% of grades were A* to C. Impressively, 39 high-flyers achieved three or more A* or A grades. Special mention must go to Sophie Cheshire, James Gallagher, Charlotte Lister, Lauren Mason, Grace McGrory, Prajeet Prabakaran, Alex Rejali, Carmel Spelman and Daisy Walker who all achieved straight A*s.

At GCSE Princethorpe pupils also performed well, from a cohort of 137 pupils over two thirds of all entries were graded 9, 8 or 7 and 56 Year 11 pupils received nine or more 9, 8 or 7 grades. There were many exceptional personal achievements, special congratulations go to Joshua Apaya, Keira Eaton, Amélie Friess, William Hawkins, Freya Mills, Eleanor Page, Oscar Page, Pratheesh Prabakaran and Madoc Williams, who all achieved eight or more grade 9s. Overall, over 99% of the grades achieved were levels 9 to 4.

Ed Hester, Headmaster, commented, "This year’s A-level and GCSE results have been arrived at in a very different way to normal. That said we are delighted that the results are a fair reflection of the hard work and achievements of these year groups. Pupils remained resilient throughout periods of lockdown, home learning and self-isolation. It has been an extremely demanding time and all credit goes to our pupils and staff for their commitment and hard work."

He continued, "We are proud of their academic achievements but all these pupils have many other fine qualities: kindness, respect and a strong sense of right and wrong, which will be tremendously important for them as they move on to the next phase of their lives. We congratulate them all on their well-deserved success."

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Father Brown Spin Off Series Filmed At Princethorpe Over The Summer

There was much excitement at Princethorpe College over the summer holidays as filming commenced for a new series – a spin off from the world of Father Brown, The Sister Boniface Mysteries.

BritBox first announced the commission of The Sister Boniface Mysteries in February 2020 as a brand-new period drama.

The official synopsis for the series reads:

“The Sister Boniface Mysteries is set in 1960s rural Warwickshire and follows the investigations of Sister Boniface, Bride of Christ, vintner, and Crime Scene Investigator. Police forensics is rudimentary by today’s standards. DNA is yet to be discovered. Blood testing can take days. The notion of trace evidence is in its infancy and the preservation of crime scenes is shockingly hit and miss. Fortunately the Great Slaughter Constabulary has a secret weapon in its fight against crime.

“Hidden deep in the countryside is St Vincent’s Convent, (aka Princethorpe College) a small community of wine making nuns where ensconced in a laboratory is Sister Boniface. An IQ of 156 and a PHD in forensic science, plus an addiction to popular detective fiction and a fully equipped crime laboratory make Boniface an invaluable aid to Police investigations. Mud, blood, stains, hairs and fibres. If there is evidence to be found Boniface will find it. Poisons, trace evidence, blood stains, etymology. She’s more up to speed on the latest forensic techniques than the Police.”

For those of us a little older it was wonderful seeing the College taken back in time but it was quite surreal to occasionally round the corner and find yourself confronted by a nun.

Coincidentally, OP and actor Emilio Doorgasingh (Class of 1983) will also be appearing in the series, though sadly he did not film any scenes at his old school.

Once we hear more from the producers and know when the new series will air, we will be sure to share the details with you all.

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Issue 30 Of The Pinnacle Just Published

The latest issue of The Pinnacle has just been published, showcasing yet more of our pupils' excellent work. First published back in 2010, across the years the Pinnacle has celebrated our pupils at their best. This bumper edition includes success in Science, Maths and Computing Challenges, news of independent research project achievements as well as excellent examples of da Vinci work. There’s also coverage of the wonderful GCSE and A-level Art, and innovative Product Design and Fashion projects which were featured in our Summer Art, Photography and Design Show in June.

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

Click here to read The Pinnacle and click here if you would like to read The Minnacle.

Heritage Open Day A Huge Success

Princethorpe College was delighted to take part in the 2021 Heritage Open Days festival on Sunday 12 September. The festival, organised by the National Trust, runs annually celebrating England’s local history by giving access to thousands of places usually closed to the public. The College has taken part in the festival for many years and this year’s event was one of the most successful yet.

On the day, the College welcomed 139 visitors through the doors, all safely socially distanced, hand sanitised and masked of course. From near and far, including local neighbours as well as parents of old and new pupils, new staff and those interested in local history, all were made welcome and enjoyed a fascinating tour that took in Pugin’s magnificent Chapel, the Cloisters, Nuns’ Cells, Library (formerly a church) and the unique Roundhouse.

The College was particularly delighted to welcome back former archivist Rev. Nick Baker who joined our current archivist Janette Ratcliffe and Assistant Head (Development) Alex Darkes as the tour leaders sharing wonderful insights into the history of the magnificent building and the amazing people that made it the place it is today.

A huge thank you to all who kindly organised and supported this super community event.

And for those who weren’t able to visit on the day there is still the option of the virtual tour which can be found here: roundme.com/tour/726654/view/2288475/.

Countdown To Entrance Examinations Underway

With just four weeks to go now, the countdown to the College's Entrance Exams for admission in September 2022 is well underway. This year the exams for Year 7 to 10 entry will take place on Saturday 6 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. 

Comments Melanie Butler, Assistant Head, Marketing, Admissions and Communications, "Interest is at an all time high, we had a very busy Open Afternoon and since then registrations have just not stopped coming in. Once again we have had lots of interest from Old Princethorpians who are keen for their children to follow in their footsteps. 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 or call the Registrars on 01926 634201/262/297 or email admissions@princethorpe.co.uk.





July 2021 Staff Leavers And Long Service Awards

As we finish the last academic year, at the end of the Trinity Term it was lovely to have a short event outside to celebrate and thank our longstanding members of staff as well as those leaving the College this year for pastures new.

Long service awards were made to Special Projects Officer, Gill Price and Lab Technician, Angela Morris for 20 years of service, Peripatetic Music Co-ordinator Felicity Coulson for 30 years of service, Catering Assistant, Colin Jamie, Head of Geography, Mike Taylor and Chaplain, Fr Alan Whelan MSC for 40 years of service, Latin Teacher, Rachel Taylor for 45 years of service and last but by no means least Estates Assistant, Gerry Lovely and Cleaner, Judy Vick for 45 and 46 years of service respectively.

Leaving us this year were Health and Safety Manager, Dave Cotton, Teaching Assistants, Laura Baskerville, Maddie Downey, Will Cooper-Harris and Katie Shorten, Graduate Teaching Assistant Jack Forsythe, Teacher of Music, Helen Dean, Teacher of Politics and History, Abi Adams, Teacher of Physics, Peter McLeish, Teacher of English, Nicola Borman, Teacher of Psychology, Jo Powell, Head of Benet House and Teacher of English, Lisa Challinor and Deputy Head – Academic, Dr Michael Reddish.

Thank you to these new Old Princethopians and best wishes to them all.

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Train To Teach At Princethorpe Through School Direct

Thinking of becoming a teacher? Then why not consider training with the Princethorpe Foundation.

Whether you are a new graduate or contemplating a career change, we have a wide range of opportunities available across the subjects including: Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Latin, English, Geography, History, Maths, MFL - French & Spanish, PE, Psychology, RE and at Primary.

Though our association with the Lion Alliance, we offer a year’s training as part of the School Direct scheme, leading to Qualified Teacher Status. Placements would be at Princethorpe or Crackley Hall and also at other schools within the Lion Alliance. Our training is supported by Warwick University, Birmingham City University, Coventry University and by our experienced mentors here at the Princethorpe Foundation.

You can preview the courses on offer here: https://www.gov.uk/find-postgraduate-teacher-training-courses by searching the database using the details: 1K1 – The Lion Alliance

Our Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning, Dr Liz Pyne is happy to offer advice about the different routes into teaching and what Princethorpe can offer you. Please email Dr Pyne at lizpyne@princethorpe.co.uk.

Further information about the Lion Alliance can be found at www.thelionalliance.co.uk.

Applications are through the DfE portal here: Apply for teacher training - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Applications open Tuesday 12 October 2021.

Why Not Hire The College Facilities?

The facilities at Princethorpe College can be hired for a variety of purposes, from sporting activities to day conferences, weddings in our Chapel (subject to approval by our parish priest) and receptions.

Lettings tend to be at weekends, in the evening or during the school holidays, when the facilities are not being used by our own pupils.

Facilities available for let include our Astroturf and Sports Hall, our Refectory and Theatre and our Sixth Form Centre.

It is also possible to erect a marquee in the College grounds.

In addition to the hire of the premises, we are able to provide extensive catering facilities via our caterers Holroyd Howe.

For further information or to discuss your requirements in more detail you can contact us through our website here or call 01926 634200.

Development News

Science+ Campaign

The Science+ Campaign is our ambitious fundraising programme to ensure an innovative, inspirational and excellent learning environment for our pupils today and in the future.

We don’t just want a building; we want to build ground-breaking, aspirational, incredible facility that demonstrate our values as we continue to provide an outstanding education for our pupils. We also want to demonstrate our value in the community and create facilities that can be used by the whole Princethorpe Foundation, to help all our pupils to reach their own goals. By working together, and with the incredible support from our community, we are getting there!

The Science Centre will be an innovative £8m 10 laboratory Science facility. We hope that this spectacular building will be opened in 2023 and supported in part by philanthropists, charitable trusts, businesses and the wider Princethorpe community.

The building is being created in order to replace the current cramped and outdated laboratories currently used by the science department, which have been untouched for many years and are located in a building that isn’t conducive to modern scientific teaching. In 2018, the school launched a campaign to raise £1.5m help to build the Science Centre: an innovative ten laboratory, flagship science facility with flexible, independent study space and latest technology. The Science Centre plans were welcomed by a wide range of STEAM professionals as an important link between the classroom, workplace and university. The fundraising campaign so far has been broad and diverse, and has been supported by Old Princethorpians, Parents and past parents. People have so far given their support in many ways, whether through room sponsorship, special events or by joining one of several fundraising initiatives including buy a brick and the popular periodic table sponsorship scheme.

'The new Science Centre will provide a first-class teaching environment for pupils and the brand new, state-of-the art laboratories will inspire Princethorpe scientists for generations to come.’

Emma Cooper - Head of Science

We hope that the Science Centre will open its doors to Pupils in September 2023 and they will be able to study science in a warm, bright and contemporary science setting, which emulates university and commercial science facilities. The building will transform science teaching and learning, and give all Pupils wishing to study science at A level the opportunity to do so in a first class environment. The innovative building layout will allow for more independent study and greater collaboration between Pupils and with teachers outside of the classroom.

‘This new building is going to be dynamic and interesting, both inside and out – a place which will truly inspire innovation and learning’

Ed Hester – Headmaster 

Please contact us if you are able to support the Science Centre, no matter how big or small. You can also find out more about leaving your mark on Princethorpe by sponsoring a Brick, Element in our Periodic Table display, or Paver here.

We continue to be extremely grateful to our donors and volunteers for your energy and commitment – THANK YOU!

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Princethorpe’s Bursary Fund Boosted By £100,000 Plus Donation

Princethorpe’s Bursary Fund has received a significant boost with a donation of over £100,000 recently pledged to support a new Princethorpe pupil for the duration of their seven-year career at the school.

The transformational bursary has been awarded to a pupil who has joined the College in Year 7 this September, the donation will also cover their school uniform costs and any extras such as books, trips and bus transport.

The generous donors, who wish to remain anonymous, are a current family with two children at the College.

The College committed to expanding its bursary provision during its Golden Jubilee Year and aims to provide fully-funded bursaries for at least ten pupils by its Diamond Jubilee in 2026. At present around 8% of Princethorpe pupils benefit from some form of bursary.

This latest donation brings the total support committed for bursaries to over £200,000, with significant single gifts and pledges and regular giving all playing an important part in funding this life-changing scheme.

Comments Ed Hester, “It is particularly pleasing that this donation comes from a current family who can see the positive effect that Princethorpe is already having on their own children and the transformational experience it could be for others who are less fortunate.”

He continued, “We are most thankful to the donors for their amazing generosity. The deserving pupil we have chosen to receive the bursary has the potential and passion to benefit fully from a Princethorpe education and we will be delighted to update the donor family on the pupil’s progress over the years ahead.”

If you are interested in further information about making a donation to us, please contact Steve Kowal at stevekowal@princethorpe.co.uk or the Development Team at makingadifference@princethorpe.co.uk or call 01926 634265.

Leave Your Mark On Princethorpe

With a new Science Building in the planning, everyone has the opportunity to leave their mark on Princethorpe College for generations to come.

At a projected cost of over £8 million, the College is committed to raising a portion of the build funds through Fundraising and realising this goal is a significant factor in determining the timescale and ability to complete the project, which we hope will open its doors to pupils in 2023.

There are many ways for individuals to support, from a major donation or corporate naming rights to smaller one-off donations for names on a Brick, Element or Paver. Our aim is for the Princethorpe community to join together to make the vision for Science a reality.

We hope you will be interested in supporting this important project and leaving your mark on Princethorpe’s future.

For more information, please visit the school website https://www.princethorpe.co.uk/support-us or contact the Development office at makingadifference@princethorpe.co.uk.

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Foundation News

First Review For Crackley Hall By Prestigious Good Schools Guide

Crackley Hall School has also received its first ever review by the prestigious Good Schools Guide. The Guide.

An editor from the Guide visited the school in June, interviewed the Headmaster, Rob Duigan, toured the site with pupils, observed lessons and spoke to teachers and parents.

The 2,500-word review, which now appears on the Good Schools Guide’s website and will be included in the next hard copy edition, includes a pen portrait of the Headmaster, plus insights into teaching and learning, sport and the performing arts, co-curricular activities, pastoral care and leavers’ destinations.

Commenting on the school’s approach to teaching and learning, the Guide says:

"Pupils and parents praise their ‘lovely’ teachers for ‘listening’, ‘really fun lessons’, and ‘taking every opportunity to find what they are good at and encouraging them’'.

“Parents say teachers manage work levels so that at any one time, ‘there may be three different levels taught in the same classroom, giving individual attention, focusing on each end of the spectrum’ without, as one noted, ‘losing sight of the middle of the road’. Children who need stretching are given extension work within classroom, in small tutor groups and access a regional gifted and talented programme.”

The very comprehensive review concludes with a Last Word, which sums up the Guide’s findings:

In his address to pupils the headmaster tells them, ‘You are valued, try your best at all times, stay involved, be kind to others and the world. Smile!’ That pretty much sums what we saw at Crackley Hall.

To read the full review click here.  

Comments Rob Duigan, Headmaster, “It was a pleasure to welcome the Good Schools Guide to Crackley Hall.  They spent a typically busy day with us and we feel they have captured the warmth and energy of our whole school community.  We are delighted that they have recognised the all-round excellence of our first-class school, and especially our collective enthusiasm for all aspects of learning and the individual care and attention each and every one of our pupils receives.”

He continued, “As Covid restrictions ease, we are looking forward to welcoming prospective families to the school, so they can find out for themselves what a Crackley education could do for their child.”

To find out more visit https://www.crackleyhall.co.uk or email admissions@crackleyhall.co.uk.

Rugby’s Deputy Mayor Declares Crescent’s New Horton Centre Officially Open

Crescent School welcomed Rugby’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Cade, on Friday 1 October 2021 to officially open The Horton Centre. Councillor Cade was joined by his wife Deputy Mayoress, Mrs Catherine Cade, Foundation Head, Ed Hester, Chair of Trustees, Mrs Liz Griffin, and Trustee, Cmdre Bernard Warner, for the opening ceremony.

What was once the old nursery building now includes a new teaching room, break out learning spaces, dedicated Music and Drama rooms and space for the school’s After Care Club. Linked by a new corridor, the fully refurbished block makes a perfect addition to the school’s growing needs.

In a welcome to the gathered audience of pupils, staff, invited guests and trustees, Headmaster, Mr Joe Thackway, thanked the visitors for coming and spoke of the school’s excitement at the new facilities. Led by the Head Boy, Rohan Somerset, and Head Girl, Evie Bierton, pupil representatives from across the school announced in turn all the different activities that would take place within the new centre.

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Cade, spoke of his delight at being welcomed into the school to officially open the new building before the school’s brass band played a celebratory fanfare and the Deputy Mayor cut the ceremonial ribbon and declared the building open. He then posed for official photographs with the invited guests and excited children.

After refreshments the Headmaster, Mr Thackway, took the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress on a short tour of the new building and the school. The Deputy Mayor commented on the opportunities the Horton Centre would provide for the Performing Arts and enjoyed being welcomed into the classrooms by the excited children.

After watching the ceremony from the playground, pupils at the school enjoyed a special celebratory cookie before returning to lessons and the business of the day.


OPs London Meet

Friday 8 October 2021 - 6.30pm to 10.30pm

The OPs eagerly-awaited London Meet takes place this evening. The event is our first face to face function since March 2020 when we had a bumper turnout in Rugby.

This event has proved equally popular as we have had such a lot of interest, that we have had to move from Le Petit to Le Grand Salon Prive on the first floor of French Restaurant, Balthazar, in London’s Covent Garden.

The Old Princethorpians Committee will be laying on some delicious, complimentary food and of course a welcome drink or two for all those attending.

We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up!

Old Princethorpians Events Calendar 2021-22

We are delighted to be able to return to our normal events calendar for the forthcoming academic year.

This year's calendar features all our regular favourites, including our popular local spring meet in Rugby, the Saturday Brunch and of course the OP's Summer Supper.

This year's OPs' Summer Supper Reunion will take place on Friday 24 June 2022, this time celebrating the leavers of 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012, 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 the events page on Princethorpe Connect to register for upcoming events. 

Sixth Form Open Evening

Wednesday 13 October - 6.30pm to 9.00pm

Year 11 pupils and their parents are warmly invited to the Sixth Form Open Evening on Wednesday 13 October 2021 from 6.30pm to 9.00pm. Current Princethorpe Year 11 parents have been emailed with information about the event and need to book their place using the links provided to them.

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. External candidates should register via this link and if they have any questions should contact the Admissions Team via email at admissions@princethorpe.co.uk.






Entrance Examinations Day For September 2022 Entry (Years 7 to 10)

Saturday 6 November 2021 - 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 by email at admissions@princethorpe.co.uk.

Entrance Examinations for 11+, 12+, 13+ and 14+ entry will take place on Saturday 6 November 2021 from 9.00am to 3.00pm. More information is available on our website, please click here.

Old Crescentians' Tour Of The Horton Centre

Friday 12 November 2021 - 5.00pm to 6.30pm

All Old Crescentians are invited to join us for a tour of the newly refurbished Horton Centre.

What was once the Reception classroom and then operated as an independent Nursey has now been returned to the school, linked to the main school building and received a full makeover.

On the evening visitors will be able to see the new facilities for Music and Drama as well as what is now the Year 2 classroom and to see the other improvements and updates that have taken place in recent years at the school. 

Light refreshments will be available.

Please register for the event on Princethorpe Connect here

We look forward to seeing you all.

Crescent School Open Events

Crescent School Reception Open Evening

Tuesday 16 November 2021 - 7.00pm to 8.00pm

Crescent School, Princethorpe's junior school in Bilton, Rugby, is having a specific Reception Open Evening on Tuesday 16 November from 7.00pm to 8.00pm. The school is proving popular so parents are being encouraged to apply early for places in Reception in 2022 and 2023.

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

Thursday 20 January 2022 - 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 18 November 2021 - 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 18 November from 7.00pm to 8.00pm. Parents are being encouraged to apply now for places in Reception in 2022.

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

Tuesday 18 January 2022 - 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.

Prize Giving Ceremony And OPs Pre-Drinks Reception

Friday 19 November 2021 - 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 19 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 2021 to catch up. Invitations will be posted out to the families of Upper Sixth leavers shortly along with instructions on how to RSVP.

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 Melanie Butler, OPs Secretary by Friday 5 November please.


PTA Christmas Fair

Sunday 28 November 2021 - 2.00pm to 4.30pm

The College's annual PTA Christmas Fair will take place on Sunday 28 November 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 Rugby Meet

Friday 4 March 2022 - 6.30pm to 10.30pm 

The OPs annual Local Meet takes place on Friday 4 March 2022. 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 if you would like to attend by registering at Princethorpe Connect, so we can cater for you.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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75th Anniversary Open House And St Joseph's Day Mass

Saturday 19 March 2022

We are looking forward to welcoming old pupils back to Crackley Hall School for our postponed 75th Anniversary celebrations.

On Saturday 19 March we will be holding an Open House event at Crackley Hall School and all past pupils of the school and of St Jospeh's Convent School are invited to join us.

On the day there will also be a celebratory St Jospeh's Day Mass.

Details are still being developed but do please register your interest in attending the celebrations here.

Princethorpe College Open Events

Sunday 13 March 2022 - 2.00pm to 5.00pm

The College will be holding an Open Afternoon on Sunday 13 March from 2.00pm to 5.00pm for families looking at entry to the College in September 2023 and beyond  

All are welcome to visit the College to look around the school. The Headmaster will address visitors and you will be able to visit the different departments around the school. Light refreshments will be available. 

Wednesday 8 June 2022 - 6.30pm - 8.30pm 

The College's annual Summer Open Evening will take place on Wednesday 8 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. The Headmaster will also address visitors during the evening. Light refreshments will be available.

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




OPs And Former Parents Brunch

Saturday 14 May 2022 10.30am - 12.30pm

Next year we are again offering OPs, former parents and staff 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 Saturday sports fixtures, and take an optional tour of the school campus.  

Former parents will have spent a considerable amount of time at Princethorpe over the years supporting their children, 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. Please spread the word!



Old Princethorpian Interview

Hattie Hall

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

I am a Data Scientist for an international financial services group. Living in London, but working with businesses across Asia and Europe.

I got here through a BSc in Mathematics, MSc in Operational Research and an MPhil in Spacecraft Trajectory Optimisation. I am also a Yoga and AcroYoga teacher in my free time.



When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to?

Sixth Form: 2009-2011

What was the school like in your day?

Gosh, 'in your day' makes it sound like so long ago! but it doesn't feel that long.

Princethorpe was very different from the school I had come from. It was an inspiring building and each classroom had its own personality. Even different corridors within the school had their own distinct feel - some that I liked, and would actively try to include in my routes between classes, and others that I tried to avoid as much as possible! they gave me the shivers!

There were some strange rules (and dare I say it - teachers!) but I found it to be an incredibly welcoming place with a positive energy and a lot going on! I genuinely looked forward to going to school every day and participating in school events.

How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

Princethorpe didn't try to mould me into the perfect Princethorpe student. They allowed me to question things and rebel (within reason of course!). So they just helped me to be me!

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Don't let one bad experience of language learning put you off - start learning a language now! It's so incredibly useful and I wish I'd learned a language, sooner!

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

One of my biggest motivators in life has always been people that say I cannot do something. From as young as nine I remember being told I was incapable of a variety of things. A teacher once told me I would never achieve top grades in Physics or Maths purely because I was female. Age, gender, race, personality, disability, it doesn't matter the reason they gave, these people inspired me to prove them wrong and achieve great things. So I should probably thank them!

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this began at age 16. I was diagnosed with a chronic eye condition and I began losing my sight from the outside in. It felt as though overnight the whole world was telling me I couldn't do things anymore. You can't read, you can't navigate, you can't live independently, you can't go skiing. etc. But none of these things are true unless you make them true, by not trying.

What keeps you awake at night?

Climate change and figuring out how to break disability stereotypes.

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

Choosing not to finish my PhD in Maths is probably the single thing I am most proud of. Which sounds odd, I know! I'm proud that I recognised that it wasn't teaching me what I needed, or wanted, to be taught. Instead of sacrificing my mental health to override my instincts and finish it anyway, I chose to leave and pursue other opportunities where I learnt much more and excelled. Maybe It'll be the right next step in a few years, or maybe it won't. The beauty is, it doesn't really matter! Just because it looks good on paper doesn't mean it's the right choice for everyone!

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Chocolate and musical theatre. I love having London's theatres on my doorstep!

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

A vegetarian roast dinner and hot chocolate fudge cake with cold custard!

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

I would be deep in nature with my partner and close friends. Somewhere with mountains, forests, lakes and fast moving clouds I can watch swoop by Canada or Scandinavia sounds perfect for some hiking, kayaking, forest bathing and evenings toasting marshmallows by the fire.

Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

I loved all of my Music experiences at Princethorpe. From the choir tour to Lake Garda, the Sixth Form Jazz Choir's rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody or just composing new music with friends in the practise rooms.

Maths was also a love of mine at Princethorpe. We had a weekly 'biscuit club' with Mrs McBride - we ate biscuits and did Maths. it was a lot cooler than it sounds!

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

The wonders of modern technology mean I have a lot of my Princethorpe contacts on Facebook. We have met up over the years and it's always a lot of fun to see what's new in everyone's lives.


Births, Deaths & Marriages

A Warm Welcome To Elias Paphitis

We were delighted to hear of the safe arrival of baby Elias Paphitis born on Wednesday 18 August at 1.20pm. Baby Elias weighed in at 7lbs 8ozs.

Elias' Mum, Mrs Rod Kefalas Paphitis (Class of 2010) is a very popular member of staff at Crackley Hall School and the children were overjoyed to see her and meet Elias when she popped into school in mid September.

Rod reports that both baby and parents are doing well.

Many congratulations to Rod and to Elias' Dad, Savvas!

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A Beautiful, Healthy Baby Boy For Alice and Tom

We are delighted to share the news that Alice Afford (nee Pickin) (Class of 2012) and her husband Tom welcomed their son William Charles Afford earlier in the summer.

William was born on 15 July 2021 (in that big heatwave!) weighing 8lb 12oz. They are all absolutely over the moon and feel so very lucky to have a beautiful, healthy boy.


A Dreamy Wedding For OPs Kate Whitfield And Matt Adkins

This July OPs Kate Whitfield and Matt Adkins (Class of 2014) tied the knot at their village church (the same church Kate's parents got married in). 60 guests were allowed inside and the rest watched it on live stream outside.  

After the ceremony, they took a short trip to Matt's family's farm in Southam. Kate writes "My husband had spent the past year renovating an old straw shed into a beautiful wedding venue, you would have never known that cows had ever stepped foot in it. He had worked tirelessly with every spare moment he had, if he wasn’t at work he was at the farm, hanging lights, putting up guttering or pressure washing the walls and floors.

It was all worth it, everyone commented on how beautiful it all was, and how well every little finishing touch had been thought through and executed.

Not to be mushy but every moment felt like a dream and if I could relive only one day over and over again, without hesitation, I would pick that one."

Many congratulations to them both and we wish them every happiness for the future.


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Wedding Bells For OP Ellen Wise (Nee Turnock) and George Wise

OP Ellen Turnock (Class of 2016) married George Wise at St Mary and St Egwin’s Catholic Church, Evesham on Thursday 9 September 2021. They held their reception at the Manor by the Lake, Cheltenham, travelling from the church to the manor in their beloved 1968 Series IIa Land Rover called Ethel, pictured. 

Ellen wrote "We had an absolutely wonderful day surrounded by all our friends and family, many of whom we had not seen for several months! We continue to immerse ourselves in the photographs, wishing we could go and relive the whole day all over again -  we could not have wished for anything better!"

Congratulations to you both and we wish you all the best with married life! 

A Perfect Day For OP Becky Redman Peck

Becky Redman Peck (Class of 2011) finally married her partner of seven years, Beth on Saturday 11 September 2021. Like many they had planned a wedding for September 2020 but due to Covid had to postpone it for a year.

After an emotional year of will they/won’t they, they finally tied the knot on Saturday 11 September, at Greenwood’s Hotel and Spa, in Stock, Essex. Becky writes "It was the most perfect day, everything we planned and hoped for our perfect wedding day. Surrounded by our friends and family. We partied to the early hours of the morning and the dance floor was never empty."

We were delighted to hear their news and we wish them both all the very best for the future.

Autumnal Themed Wedding for OP Charlotte

OP Charlotte Ritson (nee Plant) married Maia Ritson on Friday 24 September at her parents' house in an autumnal pumpkin-themed wedding. Charlotte tells us "it was a lot of people's first real chance to be together again after Covid which made for a really lovely atmosphere and everyone was so happy to be out and together again.

She continues "the wedding was really held together by other Old Princethorpians who helped us pull it all together at the last minute!! A special thank you to Princethorpe's Director of Music, Gil Cowlishaw who let Nick Bond collect his electric piano at 8.00am on the wedding day after the band's piano stopped working the night before!

It was a lovely day and myself and Maia are so grateful for all our friends and families help in making it happen!"

Dan Brown - RIP

Sad news reached us in mid September that OP Dan Brown, leaver of 1993, had unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. Dan was 44 years old and leaves a wife and three children.

Prayers were said for Dan at Princethorpe and in a Mass at St Anne's Wappenbury.

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


Memory Bank

Update From The Archives

Hello from the archives here at Princethorpe. After the disruption of the last 18 months and the long summer break, it is such a pleasure to be able to give this update in which I look at some of the ways we are sharing the Foundation’s history.

At the start of September, there was a sense of some return to normality with the first in-person archive event since Covid-19 restrictions were imposed last March. On Sunday 12 September, we held tours as part of the annual Heritage Open Day event. Alex Darkes, Reverend Dr. Nick Baker and I led five tours throughout the afternoon, whilst visitors were welcomed to the College and provided with delicious refreshments thanks to Loretta Curtis and Andrew Williams’ support. Altogether 139 people joined tours during the 2½ hour event and it was so wonderful to meet a wide range of people including interested locals, past pupils, parents of current Princethorpe pupils, and their families. We all finished the afternoon with croaky voices and sore feet but a real sense of satisfaction that everyone had enjoyed the event so much. It was also wonderful to see Nick back here and show him how the archive has continued to progress after he handed the role over to me in 2017.

Keen not to dismiss some of the opportunities that the pandemic highlighted, I also created a new virtual tour so that those who couldn’t (or would rather not) visit Princethorpe in person still had the opportunity to learn about the College’s amazing history. The tour was publicised on the Heritage Open Day website and is still available to view at https://roundme.com/tour/726654/view/2288475/ So far, we have had 784 viewings, beating last year’s viewings at this point by a sizeable amount.

Trying to increase access to the archives remotely also tallies with our archive digitisation strategy and we have managed to have two significant collections relating to St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall digitised in the past 12 months. The first was our collection of Peeper’s Pie magazines, which are some of my favourite items in the archive. They have now been added to the ‘Digital Materials’ section of the archive catalogue (https://archives.princethorpe.co.uk/collections/digital/14) so please go and have a read through them yourself – I hope that they bring back some happy memories of your time at St Joseph’s. School magazines are a vital source of news and information about life at the school but there are significant gaps in our collection pre-1965 and after 1982. If you have copies of the Peeper’s Pie at home that you would be willing to donate to the archive (or even just to lend me so that I can scan), please do get in touch by emailing me at JanetteRatcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk.

I have also had the St Joseph’s and Crackley Hall whole school photographs professionally digitised. Displayed proudly within Crackley Hall today, the photographs date back to 1946, shortly after the Sisters of Mercy moved to Kenilworth. The whole school photographs are a great way to chart the changes in staff, pupil numbers, and even the name of the school over the years. I am delighted that we will be able to share them with members of Princethorpe Connect through our alumni portal thanks to our partnership with SDS, the company that digitised them. To view the images, visit here, or click through using the new ‘Archives’ tab on the Princethorpe Connect homepage and following the link to the digitised material. It is also worth highlighting that digitisation is a good preservation strategy; some of the early photography companies no longer exist so it would be extremely unlikely we could get another copy should disaster ever strike.

Finally, I was very excited to receive a collection of scrapbooks from Crescent School’s annual residential in Derbyshire recently. Whenever I talk to Old Crescentians, their time hiking across the Derbyshire dales stands out vividly in their memories (even if it is not always fondly due to freezing cold weather and torrential rain). These wonderful scrapbooks contain photographs and leaflets from each of the places visited but perhaps my favourite thing about them is the handwritten captions and quotes that the teachers recorded. We now have a complete collection from 1978-1993 and I am looking forward to sharing more from them in a future #throwbackthursday post for Princethorpe Connect.

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Jon Inns Helps Identify Archive Photo

In the last edition of the OP newsletter we challenged our OP community to help us date a photograph of the College site. We had a number of helpful suggestions from our eagle-eyed readers. 

Jon Inns suggested the photo may be from the early to mid 1990s and that the sponsorship on the minibus might help identify a more exact date. Sadly closer examination of the original photo in the magazine didn't elicit any more information, but it did prompt a series of emails between our archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, and Jon Inns that we thought you might be interested to read.

In her email to Jon, Janette said:

Initially, I thought that the minibus might be the new LDV minibus that was purchased in 1994 with a contribution from the PTA, which was bought via Quicks Parkside Garage of Coventry. After showing the image to Alex Darkes, he confirmed your (John Inns) thoughts that it is an image of a Transit mini-bus. The mini-bus belonged to Gwilym Price but was regularly used by the College, and Alex remembers it being sponsored by Corner Coventry, which was a large Ford dealership in the area, and was owned by a parent of a Princethorpe pupil at the time.

That prompted Jon to reply:

I was speaking to Dad (Brian) today about the photo. He was on the PTA 1991-1997 (Treasurer in 1994, just after the new mini-bus purchase through to 1997). He was sharing tales of sorting out the PTA finances and then other projects the PTA was involved with included the purchase of a very advanced computer for the Arts Department that Mr Skiffington was desperate for! He seemed to have lots of gossip from the school too!

And I remember Mr Darkes very well. He was my form tutor in the first year, form AD. That was a tough year for me and I appreciated all the support he gave me. 

Mr Price I didn’t know so well. I didn’t enjoy team sports and wasn’t any good at rugby, cricket or tennis. So I found many inventive ways to 'disappear' during PE and sports! But I was good at running, which I still do now, although unfortunately the school wasn’t big on cross country running at that time. The few times I did cross country I was good at it and it was a lot of fun.

I live in Canada now and enjoy reading the Old Princethorpian when it comes out, as does Dad. It was great seeing the school photo and thanks for sharing the higher resolution photo and the memories it sparked. Dad has a fuchsia growing in his garden which came from a cutting of one growing by Chevalier Cottage. I also had cuttings that grew into bushes in my homes in Nottingham and then Sheffield. Sadly I couldn’t bring it to Vancouver! 

It was great to hear from Jon and hear of his Dad's memories too - our archivist Janette is always pleased to receive pupil memories as they really help to bring the history of the Foundation alive.


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A Spacious Gothic Church In Which The Divine Office Might Be Fitly Celebrated

In her July #throwbackthursday article on Princethorpe Connect, Foundation Archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, told us that while Our Lady of the Angels Chapel and the Tower are iconic parts of Princethorpe but they were amongst the last buildings to be built at St Mary's Priory.

Before 1901, the Nuns at St Mary’s Priory worshipped in a chapel in the heart of the Priory (now the Library and Theatre). For years prior to the election of Mere Marie Evangelista du Breuil O.S.B. in 1895, there had been discussions about how to improve the chapel. Problems included the Lay sisters having to kneel in the antechoir as there was no space for them in the body of the church and there being no way for bedridden or dying sisters to take part in Divine Office leaving them spiritually bereft. Mere Marie Evangelista realised that it would not be possible to adapt the original chapel so when a wealthy individual brought a large dowry upon joining the community, she saw a way to have her vision of a chapel that was both more practical and more awe inspiring realised. It is thanks to that vision that we now have Our Lady of the Angels Chapel here at Princethorpe.

Mere Evangelista’s choice of Peter Paul Pugin as the architect was an inspired one. Coming from a family renowned for their Roman Catholic buildings, he was heavily involved in the build from the start. When changes needed to be made, it was he that made them – most notably perhaps being the redesign of the Tower making it 16 feet shorter in order to save money and maintain the proportions. When builders or craftsmen were needed, he recommended and commissioned them. He made regular site visits to enable him to maintain close oversight on the project and there is extensive correspondence from him up until his death in 1904 in the archive at Douai Abbey.

After the site at the South West corner of the Quad had been chosen and existing buildings cleared, the foundation stone for the new chapel was laid on the 24 May 1898 by the Right Reverend Dr. Ilsley, Bishop of Birmingham. A ceremonial mallet was presented by the builders Foster and Dicksee for the occasion and it was a real delight to have this given to us on Permanent Loan by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart recently. (See gallery)

On the day, the Reverend B Vaughan S.J led a sermon and then a procession took place from the Guest House (now Front of House). Waiting at the site were local children and important guests, including Peter Paul Pugin and Lady Annette de Trafford whose daughter’s dowry helped to fund the project. After the laying of the Foundation stone, the Reverend Mother Marie Evangelista concluded the ceremony by placing objects including a glass bottle containing the Certificates, a Crucifix and other holy objects within the hole.

It appears that despite repeated changes to the initial designs, the external building works on the church and tower had largely been completed by November 1900 and shortly before leaving the site, the masons and workmen were given a feast within the vestibule to thank them for their workmanship and conduct during their time close to the Community. The details and decoration continued inside however. Many of the people who had been involved in the original chapel were also involved in the new one. The notable Victorian stained-glass company, Hardman & Co. of Birmingham, installed the windows which were not completed all at once but as donations were received by generous benefactors. Many of the stained-glass windows actually record the name of these donors within their design. Joseph Pippet, who had designed the mural depicting ‘The Death of St Benedict’ in the original chapel, also painted murals including the altar of the Sacred Heart within the new chapel and he was involved in the design of the elaborate baldacchino over the altar in collaboration with Peter Paul Pugin himself.

The build itself was not without problems and delays. Spiralling costs meant that the design was changed multiple times to try to bring the costs down and every tender was carefully scrutinised for savings. Measures such as moving the marble altar from the original chapel and adapting the old chapel’s wooden stalls to fit in the new space were taken in order to get the chapel finished. The boiler also exploded in November 1900 in which fortunately no one was seriously hurt and repeated issues with the septic tanks failing to work properly continued until the end of 1901; all of which added to the time and expense taken in the build.

Perhaps the biggest issue came after the build had finished and the church had been consecrated. As mentioned early, at least a third of the build’s costs were met through the dowry that Hilda de Trafford brought when she joined the order in 1896. Unfortunately, at some point in the early 1900s, she decided that she did not want to remain a member of the Benedictine order and requested her dowry back when she left. When she was told this was not possible, she took the Priory to court and (as the expectation was that dowries were invested and the interest used to cover any costs associated with living at the Priory), she won and the Priory was ordered to pay her back. This took them until at least the late 1940s to do and this may ultimately have contributed to the order not being able to afford to stay at Princethorpe.

Our Lady of the Angels Chapel was finally consecrated on the 8 May 1901. Bishop Ilsley returned to the Priory and between 8am-9am in the morning, he led a procession to the New Church and the High Altar was dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels and St. John the Evangelist, with the relics of St Fructousa V.M. placed beneath. The occasion was clearly a moving one, with Sister Frideswide’s recounting in her book ‘The History of Princethorpe Priory’:

“No one who was present on that day will ever forget the deep hush and unutterable gladness of the moment when the Blessed Sacrament was brought in and Our Divine Lord came to take possession of the temple raised to His honour with so much love.” (1)

Whilst not permitted entrance into the main body of the church, notable guests and the girls who attended the school at the time were able to witness the service from the galleries.

With the consecration of Our Lady of the Angels, the old chapel became a place where local Catholic parishioners and school girls could worship regularly without encroaching on the Benedictine’s enclosed community. The new chapel continued to be a central part of daily life for the Benedictine order until their departure in 1966. It continues to be a place of worship today with regular services, baptisms, marriages and funerals conducted here. Mere Maria Evangelista also ensured that her name lives on as a key figure in the Princethorpe history.


Included in the gallery are:

Image of St Mary's Priory, showing the Chapel and the Tower

Inscription on the bottom of the ceremonial mallet which was used to lay the chapel's foundation stone. Reference SMP.34.30

Image of the Altar in Our Lady of the Angels Chapel. Reference SMP.24.2.06 



(1) Stapleton, F., 1930. The history of the Benedictines of St. Mary's Priory, Princethorpe. St. Mary's Priory, Princethorpe. (Reference SMP.27.1.06)

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A Local Princethorpe Pioneer

In one of her #throwbackthursday posts, Foundation Archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, explored the impact local farmer Joseph Elkington had on the Warwickshire landscape and on farming in the UK. Her research was prompted by a donation to the archives of An Account of this Most Approved Mode of Draining Land; According to the System Practised by Mr Joseph Elkington and has uncovered a local Princethorpe pioneer!

If you would like to read more on a system that helped make the Princethorpe we all know the countryside it is today, then do check out her post on https://connect.princethorpe.co.uk/

Then And Now Natural Places

Within the school archives there is a huge collection of photos and Foundation Archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, never misses an opportunity to share the treasures within her care. Back in the summer Janette shared a series of Twitter posts on the theme of nature for Mental Health Awareness Week and we enjoyed comparing the then and now images of some of the College’s most iconic natural settings.

Some of the old photos were from a St Mary’s Priory’s prospectus from the 1920s and they included a picture of pupils amongst the trees on the Lime Walk, originally planted in the 1840s, a photo of Switzerland, the lake that was formed when clay was dug out to build St Mary's Priory, and an old image of The Plantation, what we now know as the Mile Walk. There was also an old photo of the Quad from when it was part of St Mary’s Priory’s enclosure. Scroll trhough the gallery to see then then and now photos.

The then and now photos show just how little the campus grounds have changed over the years and are sure to be fascinating to all Old Princethorpians.

If you are interested you are welcome to explore the 11,000 items in archive collection further here: https://archives.princethorpe.co.uk/, or receive regular updates, including lots of old photos, by following Janette’s Twitter feed @PFdn_Archives

The archive reference for the prospectus is SMP.26.6a.

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John Tracey Recalls An Eclipse

We were delighted to hear from John Tracey in June. John told us:

'While waiting for the recent partial eclipse, I remembered being taken from my classroom in Saint Bede's to view a partial eclipse. I am thinking this was the one which occurred on May 20 1966. We each were given a piece of smoked glass to allow us to look at the eclipse.

This memory, in turn, had me wondering what happened after the move from Leamington. I was in the Junior Seminary for the Missionaries of Saint Francis De Sales (MSFS or Fransalians) which was at 29 Kenilworth Road and we were day attenders at Saint Bede's. The Junior Seminary moved to Charlton Kings in 1966 as a consequence of the move to Princethorpe College. On your website I saw about your pupils viewing the recent eclipse.

I see there is Old Princethorpians. Whether I would qualify I am uncertain as I was in the Transition class at Saint Bede's for one year from 1965 to 1966. If my memory is of interest, please pass on.'

John's memory was very much of interest and he definitely does qualify as the Old Princethorpians as do all who attended any of the Princethorpe Foundation's legacy schools. We were delighted to welcome him to the Old Princethorpian community.

In the gallery are two images we have in the archive of St Bede's.

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John Attridge Remembers His Time At Princethorpe

John Attridge attended St Bede's and then Princethorpe College before his family left Warwickshire in 1968 and moved to Suffolk. He followed his interest in Agriculture and after a couple of jobs, then settled into teaching in Further Education and has been happy doing so ever since.

John contacted us after reading the article on Father Fleming in the last edition of the OP newsletter with his memories of Father Fleming and the early years of Princethorpe College: 

'I was interested by the article about Father Fleming in the OP newsletter. Father Fleming was Headmaster at St Bede's before becoming the first Headmaster at Princethorpe. I vividly recall being sent to see the Headmaster at some point in my 1964 to 1966 time at St Bede's for a certain classroom misdemeanour. After what appeared to be a long torturous wait outside his office, he called me in and asked me to explain what had happened. He thought about the matter and told me to come back and see him the following morning. I had the rest of the day, all night and the following morning to dwell on what I had done and the punishment that might be metered out. I duly went to see him the following morning in fear and trepidation. In his office he simply said, don't do it again. He knew that I had received due punishment.

With a small group of other St Bede's students, we were invited to go and have a look around Princethorpe just before "Princethorpe College" started in the autumn term of 1966 with Father Fleming as Headmaster. It was such a lovely location in the countryside compared to being at St Bede's in Leamington. I have two memories of these early days of the College. The first was when term started, we were asked to pick potatoes which I believe we did for three days. These were in the walled garden referred to now as the Orchard. The second was when Switzerland was drained (sadly many fish died) and the base of it was concreted. Once filled again it was used for swimming though the water remained pond-like. The other problem was that because as only the bottom had been concreted, as you climbed out you were climbing up muddy sides which further rendered the water murky. I don't think that Switzerland was used for swimming for very long!

Father Clarkson, from memory, was Deputy Head at St Bede's and likewise at Princethorpe when the school moved there. I recall with others being allowed to camp in the grounds in 1967 I believe. The unpredictable weather forced us to take refuge one day and the next day while playing snooker in the College, Father Clarkson came in and said in his lovely Irish accent, "The Three Horeshoes is out of bounds." Happy days.'

Thank you John for sharing your memories with us - the potato picking story is well known and often recounted by the Headmaster when he speaks to prospective parents at Open Days. Fortunately it isn't on the timetable these days.

In the gallery we have two photos one of Father Fleming with some of the first pupils and then an image from the 1972 Princethorpe Magazine which accompanied an article on the farm here at Princethorpe.

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Do These Photos Bring Back Memories Of School Dinners?

In this newsletter we are sharing some old photos of a very special place at Princethorpe College – the Refectory. Just like an army, a school marches on its stomach and we are sure everyone who has passed through the College will have wonderful memories of the Refectory in some way.

These three images show the Refectory in the 1960s (black and white), 1970s (pupils eating) and we believe early 1980s (colour photo). If you know different or can identify pupils or have your own fond memories of the Refectory to share, then do get in touch with the Foundation Archivist at janetteratcliffe@princethorpe.co.uk

Our archivist would also be interested in receiving copies of your old photos of the Refectory or of the wider school. So please consider sharing them, they can be scanned and returned to you, if you want to keep the originals.

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OP Updates

Marks Barfield Architects Shortlisted For RIBA Stirling Prize

OP Ian Rudolph (Class of 1988) shared the exciting news that his practice, Marks Barfield Architects, has been shortlisted as a 2021 contender for the RIBA Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture award given to the architect of the building thought to be the most significant of the year for the evolution of architecture and the built environment.

Described by the Guardian as a ‘mesmerising wooden mosque’ and a ‘photogenic stunner’ the Cambridge Central Mosque is tipped as the most likely to win this year’s prize.

Capable of welcoming 1,000 worshippers but constructed within a low rise, residential neighbourhood, the defining internal characteristic of the mosque are the timber ‘trees’ which form the structural support for the roof and roof lights. The building is stunningly beautiful, the timber ‘trees’, so powerfully evocative of nature, are both uplifting and peaceful and provide a truly inspiring place of worship.

We offer our congratulations to Ian and his partners and wish them the very best of luck for next Thursday 14 October when the winner of this year’s award will be announced.

You can find out more about the Cambridge Central Mosque on the Awards pages on RIBA’s website here: https://www.architecture.com/awards-and-competitions-landing-page/awards/riba-regional-awards/riba-east-award-winners/2021/cambridge-central-mosque

You can read the Guardian Article on the Stirling Prize shortlist in full here: Stirling prize shortlist: from mosque stunner to neo-neolithic flats | Stirling prize | The Guardian

You can watch the BBC News Channel's short report here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfcBq5VKEgU

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David Jones Recognised With Agricultural Award

Many congratulations to Old Princethorpian, David Jones (Class of 1991), who has been recognised with an Associateship Award by The Council for Awards of the Royal Agricultural Society for his Practice and Development in Agriculture.

David was presented with his award at the House of Lords this week and is pictured here with his partner Vanessa Simpson.

Potential candidates for the Associateship Awards have to be invited by a Fellow of the Society for consideration by a National Panel. The awards are for those deemed to have made truly outstanding contributions to UK agricultural progress.

More information can be found out about the awards here.


Nick Baker Ordained As A Priest

Former Princethorpe Foundation Archivist, Nick Baker, was ordained as a priest into the Anglican Communion by The Rt Rev Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester in a ceremony held at the church of St Thomas, South Wigston on Saturday 2 October.

With Leicester Cathedral’s restricted opening hours, because of ongoing renovation work, the service for four of the diocese’s ordinands was held at South Wigston, part of the Wigston Benefice, in which Nick is currently serving as curate. The church of St Thomas was originally constructed in 1893 as the chapel for the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, with a tower added later in 1901 and is now the parish church of South Wigston.

In addition to Nick’s post at Princethorpe, he previously worked with the historic book and manuscript collections at Eton College and Hereford Cathedral. An enthusiastic and knowledgeable historian, Nick trained for his ministry at St Hild’s College whilst on placement in the parishes of Burbage and Aston Flamville. Nick also co-authored the the Foundation's book A Spirit of Family: The First Fifity Years of Princethorpe College in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

We wish him every happiness and success in his ministry and are pleased that he is near enough to call in to Princethorpe from time-to-time. Nick kindly helped out recently, as one of the tour guides for this year’s Heritage Open Day in September.

Picture shows Nick Baker (4th from left) with Bishop Martyn Snow, the other ordinands and their clergy sponsors.



Lauren Whitfield Graduates And Heads For The Slopes

OP Lauren Whitfield (Class of 2016) bring us up to date with her time since leaving Princethorpe.

"After completing my time at Princethorpe as a student in 2016 and following a year as a member of the College's Marketing and Admissions team in 2017, I went on to Loughborough University to study Retailing, Marketing and Management. After three years of study and one year in industry, and a couple of national lockdowns thrown in for good measure, I have finally graduated with a 2:1 Hons and a Diploma in Professional Studies.

The course was varied and interesting, exposing me to a number of subjects which helped me complete my year in industry with BWX Brands UK Ltd as the Sales and Marketing Assistant for a number of skincare brands such as Sukin Naturals and Andalou. I kept up my passion for dance throughout my time at Loughborough, coaching the Tap teams for three years and securing trophies along the way. The club was supportive and diverse providing me with opportunities to perform, fundraise and socialise.

Since graduating I have enjoyed a summer of freedom exploring England and Wales in true ‘staycation’ style. I have also kept myself busy being an ambassador for Tropic Skincare and working as a Marketing and Media Assistant for my Dad’s company noise.co.uk Ltd.

In August I spent five days at The Orchards Cookery School, taking the chalet host cookery course in preparation for my upcoming ski season. I have now secured a job in a chalet in La Plagne at the heart of the Paradiski area. I am so excited to hit the slopes again and live in France for five months, with such a great company. At the end of the five months I plan to travel through Europe and Switzerland before returning home to decide what step to take next. It might be a summer season job, it might be a masters, it might be neither of those things. Either way it’s going to be an adventure!"

We wish the lovely Lauren all the best on her next steps!

Lily Blunsom-Washbrook Awarded A BAFTA Scholarship

We were impressed and delighted to hear that OP, Lily Blunsom-Washbook (Class of 2018), has been awarded a BAFTA Scholarship. Lily told us:

'I was lucky enough to be nominated for the BAFTA scholarship by my Deputy Head of Acting at RCS (the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) where I’m currently studying for a BA in Acting. The process was intense but lovely and full of learning opportunities; it consisted of written applications, interviews and showcasing my acting ability. I thought it was a complete long shot, that I wouldn't be shortlisted let alone become the recipient of such a generous and esteemed award. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to BAFTA for the incredible opportunity that the scholarship offers. It aids my financial situation as well as offering a year long mentorship with an esteemed BAFTA recognised actor, whose advice and guidance will be invaluable at these early stages of my career. I feel very blessed and so lucky to have had all the support from the Princethorpe Drama Department throughout my time studying at the school, it really cultivated my love for acting and I am unbelievably pleased to have got this far doing something I absolutely love, this truly will make the most life-changing difference and I’m excited for what is to come!'

And we are excited too Lily; we can't wait to see how your career unfolds!

Autumn Wells Graduates With A First Class Honours Degree

Many congratulations to OP, Autumn Wells (Class of 2018), for graduating from Nottingham Trent University with a First Class Honours in Business Management and Leadership. Autumn has spent three years on the Commercial Degree Apprenticeship Scheme at Rolls-Royce and has recently started her first substantive role at the company joining the Risk and Revenue Sharing Partners Team at Rolls-Royce, managing the largest Japanese Partner Account.

Autumn says, "I am looking forward to getting stuck into the next chapter of my career and gaining my Chartered Management Institute accreditation later this year".

It was great to hear Autumn's graduation news; we wish her all the best in her career!

OP Helen Kenyon Celebrates Her 50th Birthday At Princethorpe College

Old Princethorpian, Helen Kenyon who attended the College Sixth Form in the late 1980s returned to Princethorpe recently to celebrate her 50th birthday. She was joined by her friends and had a magical day made all the more special by the company of four of her school friends, who also were at Princethorpe for their Sixth Form years.

Pictured together are the five OPs: Ann-Marie Mangan, Helen Kenyon, Maria Brennan, Sonia White and Claire Davis at the front (maiden names).

Helen explains, “Princethorpe holds an incredibly special place in all of our hearts – we have happy memories of being at a school that was like a family. We made lifelong friendships and returning to Princethorpe made my 50th lunch even more special.”

Helen told us that Ann-Marie is still happily with OP, Chris Cusiter having been childhood sweethearts at school, they got back together after a reunion and they have two amazing daughters. Maria married OP Brendan McDermott in the College Chapel (Helen was chief bridesmaid) and they have three wonderful children and that OP Phil McLean picked the friends up from the lunch on the Saturday too, another great friend from Helen’s time at the school.

For the other guests, all Helen’s closest friends, it was a wonderful opportunity to share lunch together in such beautiful surroundings.

Helen continues, “Andrew (Catering Manager) and his team did a fabulous job for us, the food and service were exceptional. All in all, it was a wonderful day to add to our fabulous memories of Princethorpe College.”

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Lottie Jones Nominated For Next Generation Franchise Award

Congratulations to Lottie Jones (Class of 2014), Franchise Director for East Warwickshire Onside Coaching for being shortlisted for the Next Generation Franchisee Award by the British Franchise Association!

Onside - East Warwickshire, provides local primary schools with high quality PE and Extra Curricular Clubs. Since taking on the franchise back in June 2018, Lottie has grown the business to the point where she is now working with eight different schools. Her company also provides fun, active childcare in Rugby in the school holidays and are looking to expand into Coventry and Daventry. They run an Active course which is a mixture of sports, dance and forest school, a Football course, and a specific Netball course. From starting by herself, she now has a team of five sports and forest school specialists and is looking to expand.

Lottie explains, “I love having my own franchise and enjoy being my own boss. Not having a ceiling on your achievements is the best motivation, there are no limits! Having no business background, it has been important to surround myself with people who can help me put my ideas in to reality. The secret to my success has got to be, love what you’re doing. When you are in full control of your own time, you must be driven and passionate to succeed.”

She continues, “I cannot believe that the business has grown to be such a success and unbelievably has now been shortlisted for an award. This just shows age is just a number!

I am so proud of Onside - East Warwickshire and very grateful for my team.

That is amazing news Lottie. The big award announcement is in November and we will all be keeping our fingers crossed for you. Good luck!

Talented OP Athlete Lloyd Ellis Is Welsh Champion

Talented athlete and Old Princethorpian, Lloyd Ellis (Class of 2017), won the Senior Men’s 400m hurdles at the recent Welsh Athletics Championships.

Lloyd competed in Cardiff on 14 August, running a personal best in what was only his second race back after a break from athletics for three years while he was living and studying in Utrecht in the Netherlands. Lloyd, who used to train at Leamington’s Athletics Club, and currently trains at the University of Birmingham, previously ran sprint hurdles but since his return to racing has switched to the 400m hurdle distance.  

Lloyd has just finished a Masters degree at University of Birmingham where he studied Conflict, State-building and Development. He now has a scholarship to do a law conversion course, with an eye to becoming criminal barrister. 

Congratulations to Lloyd on his Welsh Athletics win and good luck with your post graduate studies.


OP Ollie Graham Is Royal Marine Commando

We were delighted to hear that Old Princethorpian, Ollie Graham (Class of 2019) had, after a long, gruelling year of training, completed his commando test, the 30 miler across Dartmoor, and been given his green beret.

We asked Ollie for an update and he told us: 

'Finishing Sixth Form in 2019, I had planned on going to Uni to study Photo Journalism at the University of Gloucestershire. I deferred my place so that I could take a gap year working three jobs to save money and go travelling. In December 2019, I went on a solo photography trip to Hong Kong. This proved an interesting time to visit as multiple riots were kicking off due to China’s increasing oppression. I went with the intent to build up my photographic portfolio and prepare myself for the University course but learned that nothing to do with being in the middle of a riot is really cool…

After this, Covid obviously hit and all future plans got cancelled. Around this time I was 50/50 between going to Uni and signing up for the Royal Marines, and with nothing to do due to lockdown, I applied and started training for it. The more I trained, the more Uni became a bit of a backup option in case I didn’t make it through the arduous 36 week training course. 

Training itself consists of four stages: a 4-week Recruit Orientation Phase, Phase 1, Phase 2 and the Commando Phase. Ironically the first few weeks for me were the hardest, going from a cushty life at Princethorpe, to 5am wake ups, an incredible amount of ironing, and fitness “till your eyes bled,” not to discourage anyone. 

Phases 1/2 you spend a lot of time out in the field learning all of your basic soldering skills; how to maintain yourself in the field, navigation, observation, attacking, defending and recces. The worst drill though is wet and dry. 3am wake ups to go and get in a pool of water, only to go back to your sleeping bag and get changed back into your dry kit. 

Once that’s out the way,  then you’re into Commando Phase. You get onto doing all the Gucci stuff that you see in the adverts. Jumping between fast moving boats,  attacking whole islands, airports, castles/forts, and my favourite, throwing grenades. 

All of this training leads up to the final four tests, the Commando tests. These consist of an Endurance Course, a 9-Mile Speed March, a Tarzan Assault Course, and the 30 Miler. Each one harder than the other, and fuelled by a diet of Dominoes. They’re no easy feat and most lads, trained Royal Marine Commandos at this point, start crying in the final mile. 

Training all in all was the biggest rollercoaster of physical and mental ups and downs. But passing out was the proudest moment of my life, and I thoroughly recommend a career path like mine to anyone leaving Sixth Form.

If anyone is considering it, they are welcome to contact me with questions. 

Thank you for the encouragement and believing in me in sixth form.'

No thanks needed Ollie, it's your tenacity and determination that got you over the finish line. We were all delighted to hear of your success.  



Lawrence Chapman Cycling Challenge

OP Lawrence Chapman (Class of 2018) took on a 500-mile cycling challenge for the charity The Way Of The Horse back in July. Lawrence cycled from Edinburgh Castle to the Tower of London on a demanding route down the backbone of the UK. His charity bike ride took in southern Scotland, the mountains of northern England, the hills of Yorkshire and long stretches of eastern England before reaching the capital city.

Lawrence, who is studying Law at Leicester University, is raising money for a charity close to his home and his heart. The Way Of The Horse is based in Lutterworth and provides self-help programmes for children and adults facing mental health challenges. Their equine assisted therapies harness the power of the horse to support and enable people to resolve their difficulties, form better relationships with others, and move their lives in a positive direction.

Lawrence told us:

'The ride went really well! I raised around £700 for the charity and it took six days in the end. There were some tough days across Scotland and the North Yorkshire moors - especially with some heavy rain but it soon eased off as we got towards Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. We finished at the Tower of London on Tuesday 6 July.

Charlie Winterton kindly drove us up to Scotland and acted as back up in the van all the way down from Edinburgh to London.'

Well done to Lawrence and you can find out more about the charity here.


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