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.

We have a number of alumni events coming up including Bluebells and Brunch on Saturday 14 May and the OP Summer Supper on Friday 24 June. 

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


Alumni News

A Very Warm Welcome To Fernham For The VSOPs

A small group of former St Mary’s Priory Old Girls, or VSOPs as we like to call them, received a very warm welcome when they visited the former convent of the Benedictine nuns in Fernham, over the recent Bank Holiday weekend.

The community of 33 nuns, led by Mère Benedict, moved to Fernham in 1966 after they sold the estate at Princethorpe to the MSCs for £160,000. Over the years they extended the property to include a Chapel and additional nuns’ cells, but as the property became too large for their needs, the decision came to sell the property and around 2003 the remaining sisters joined various other communities, including Minster Abbey in Ramsgate, Benedictine Abbey in Chester, Oulton Abbey in Staffordshire and Boarbank Hall in Cumbria. We are delighted to keep in touch with Srs Mary Bernard OSB, Mary Catherine OSB, Mary Lucy OSB and Mary Stephen OSB.

The house, still named St Mary’s Priory, has undergone significant changes since the nuns were in residence and is now the family home of well-known impressionist Rory Bremner and his talented sculptor wife, Tessa Campbell Fraser. The Bremners could not have been more welcoming and friendly and were delighted to show the group around the grounds, the nuns’ graveyard (where 24 of the nuns are buried) and inside their beautiful property.

With its private setting and wonderful views over the Vale of the White Horse, the party, some of whom had visited during the nuns’ tenure, could easily understand why the house had appealed so much to the community all those years ago and what a wrench it must have been when the time came to leave.

Over coffee and cake outside in the sunshine, the group who had been taught by the nuns during the 50s and 60s, reminisced about their experiences and swapped stories with the Bremners, whose current postman used to deliver to the nuns.

After thank yous and farewells, the visit organised by Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes, was rounded off with a delicious pub lunch nearby.

The party comprised, Biddy Allen (whose father, Princethorpe home farm bailiff, Lewis Baines had helped the nuns find the property and moved them in 1966), sisters Mary Holgate and Liz Hughes, Marianne Horne, Judy Povey and Mary Wheildon. Supported by Loretta Curtis (Princethorpe), Alex Darkes (Princethorpe) and Melanie Butler (Old Princethorpians Secretary, Princethorpe).

Comments Alex Darkes, “This was very much something of a highlight for me. Meeting our VSOPs from the days of St Mary’s Priory always enables us to add more pieces to the Princethorpe jig-saw puzzle. These past pupils hold very dear the Princethorpe ethos and friendships as we do and this was a marvellous opportunity to enjoy a reunion with the wonderful hospitality of the Bremners, in a house which is still central to the Princethorpe story.”

The day was very much enjoyed by the VSOPs:

Marianne Horne, said, "Thank you very much for arranging the outing to Fernham on Saturday. It was a most enjoyable day - the Bremners were so hospitable and the weather was perfect."

Liz Hughes, added, "Many thanks for organising our trip to Fernham. It was such a great day - far beyond the expectations of any of us I’m sure." 

Mary Holgate, agreed, " Thank you all so very much for organising our visit to St Mary’s Priory last Saturday. It was really interesting to see the house and garden and we had such a welcome from Rory and Tessa. We were also very blessed with such good weather."

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OP Clemmie's Dance Troupe Wows Britain's Got Talent Judges

Many congratulations to OP Clemmie Milnes, her fellow directors and students at the Born to Perform Dance School.

Fans of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent will have seen Born to Perform’s amazing audition last Saturday which earned them a golden buzzer and a ticket through to the live Semi-Finals. Dancing to Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop The Beat, the troupe of young performers aged 14 to 24 absolutely wowed the judges with their performance.

Born to Perform is an inclusive dance and performing arts school specialising in disability and SEND, based in Northampton. The sessions the school runs aim to improve its students’ confidence, communication and overall mental and physical wellbeing.

One of three directors at the dance school, Clemmie, who left Princethorpe in 2008, has worked in the Performing Arts industry for over 12 years. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Choreography, specialising in Contemporary Dance and also worked towards a Master’s Degree in 'Drama and Movement Therapy' whilst studying at the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama in London. Whilst there she worked on placements within the SEN sector and found her passion for bringing the best out of people with disabilities with her unique and personalised approach.

Comments Clemmie, “We are overwhelmed with pride for our students and school! It’s a huge achievement and the group are working endlessly now on their semi–final piece.”

We wish them all the best and can’t wait to see them dance again!

To watch Born to Perform's audition click here.

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College Honours Boards Updated

What with all that has been going on, it has been several years since the school’s Honours Boards have been updated, but that changed over the Easter holidays when the names of recent Heads of School, Deputy Heads of School and the Games Captains were added.

Situated in the Refectory, the Honours Boards celebrate the achievements of students past and present and are a grand sight along the walls watching over generations of pupils as they make their way through the school.

In the gallery we have included photos of all the Boards from the 60s to the present day in the Refectory and on the Main Corridor – can you spot your name in lights?

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New London Club On Princethorpe Connect

We have just launched a London Club on Princethorpe Connect giving our London based OPs the opportunity to network, build contacts, find opportunities, socialise and meet others. There is always a good turnout for our London OP meets as we have a thriving community of Old Princethorpians living and working in the capital city.

We would be particularly interested in hearing from any London based OP who is interested in joining the OPs Committee, even virtually, in order to help us organise our London event and be a link person for anyone new to London.

The London club joins our club groups for Old Princethorpians in Hong Kong, USA and North America and Spain.

If you would like to join one of these Clubs, visit Princethorpe Connect, go to Clubs and click Join Now, then get connecting with your fellow Club members and share your news!


If you would like us to set up a Club for your group please let us know by emailing oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.

The Bluebells Are In Bloom

Springtime is the season for wildflowers and here at Princethorpe that always means bluebells. The bright violet-blue perennials carpet the woodlands around the College site every year from late April to late May. They are at their best now, so we had to share a few pictures for you all to enjoy.

For many of our Old Princethorpians the bluebells are a reminder of their time at Princethorpe, and we hope that they enjoy the photos. It's always a joy to see them bloom and, as always, they look just magical.

If you would like to see them in person there's still time to do so, simply click here to sign up for our OPs Bluebells and Brunch event on Saturday 14 May.

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Foundation Bursar And OP Eddie Tolcher Donates Beech Trees

Foundation Bursar and OP, Eddie Tolcher, took time out of his busy schedule on Tuesday 29 March, to plant two new beech trees. Helped by Foundation Grounds Manager, Edd Robertson, the five-year-old trees were soon in the ground ready to be watered in.

The trees are replacements for two that Eddie originally helped to plant nearly fifty years ago when he was a pupil at Princethorpe College.

Running along the Coventry Road on the College’s sports field, the row of 10 beech trees were planted back in 1973 and 1974 by former Biology Teacher Richard Whittle and pupils attending the College at the time. They were part of the British Government sponsored scheme, ‘Plant A Tree In ‘73’, that encouraged the population to plant trees to replace loses across the country from a virulent new strain of Dutch Elm disease.

Eddie said, “Over the years I have watched these trees mature and always taken great pleasure from the sight of them. I wanted to replace the two that hadn’t survived and was delighted to personally donate the cost of purchasing the new trees. I hope they give future generations of pupils just as much pleasure as they have always given me.”

75th Anniversary Celebrations A Great Success!

Former pupils of St Joseph’s Convent School were welcomed back to St Joseph’s Park in Kenilworth on Saturday 19 March, some two years later than originally planned, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of a school on the site.

Now known as Crackley Hall School, the current Headmaster, Rob Duigan, and staff and pupils from Years 5 and 6 were on hand to help celebrate the anniversary.

The Open House was well-attended with pupils and teachers from across the generations including former Headmistresses Sr Philomena Bowers and Lesley Cox, and teachers Maureen Hazelwood, Rachel Taylor and Brigitte Wood, whom old pupils were delighted to see. While many of the visitors were local, a number travelled from afar including Mary Taylor, née Darby, who had made the journey from Spain to attend.

On their arrival the guests were treated to a performance by Crackley Hall’s talented Chamber Choir in the new school hall. They sang a series of specially prepared pieces to an appreciative audience and provided a magnificent start to the morning. The visitors were able to admire the beautiful stained-glass window and ceiling boss relocated from the original school Chapel. Then, Mr Duigan welcomed them formally speaking of the long history of the school and its ethos that remains to today, nurtured by the latest generation of staff and pupils. Father Kevin Hooper then led the gathered guests in a celebratory St Joseph’s Day Mass to give thanks for the anniversary.

With the formalities over and the sun shining, visitors headed outside to the top lawn where a group photograph was taken. They were then invited to explore the site. Crackley Hall’s young pupils were on hand to guide the guests and throughout the school the classrooms were filled with displays, and there were whole school photos and honours boards displayed on the corridor walls to the delight of visitors. There was also a display of memorabilia from the Foundation’s archives and many were delighted to see old school magazines and other treasures from the past. Refreshments were laid on in the dining hall offering a perfect opportunity to sit and reminisce.

Feedback on the day has been extremely positive with visitors commenting:

“It was lovely to see the old haunts and also the new buildings. The schoolchildren were so polite and confident and delightfully enthusiastic when we went on our tour - a credit to the school. All the staff we met were so welcoming and any initial nerves I might have had about ‘going back to school’ were immediately dispelled.“

“Two young ladies and one young gentleman showed me round your warm and busy school and pointed out their favourite classrooms and best artwork.  I enjoyed my tour very much, and it was heartening to hear my guides enthusiasm and supportive comments. Thank you too, to you and Mr Duigan for taking the time to host and organise the event. 75 years is a splendid milestone.”

Our sincere thanks go to all the current staff, pupils and parents who contributed to the celebrations and also to all the past pupils and teachers who attended and made the event such a great success. We do hope they enjoyed their walk down memory lane and look forward to welcoming them in 2025 when the school will celebrate its 80th Anniversary!

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Our Popular OP Local Meet Returned

Our annual local meet took place in Rugby on Friday 4 March.

We had a good turnout for our first face to face Local OPs Meet at Inside the 22 in Rugby.

A lovely mix of OPs from across the generations attended plus a sprinkling of Old Crescentians for good measure.

All enjoyed great company, delicious tapas and a drink or two, courtesy of the OPs Committee.

It was great to see everyone and we are delighted to finally be able to return to our normal schedule of events.

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The Latest News From Princethorpe Connect

Princethorpe Connect, the Foundation's online alumni community portal, was launched back in the summer of 2019 and some three years later now has over 1000 members. Aimed at past pupils, past parents and former staff, Princethorpe Connect enables you to find and network with old friends and former colleagues from across the Foundation schools and keep up with news and events.

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

Over recent months we have been developing the portal to meet the needs of our growing alumni community. The news pages have had an overhaul with new sub-sections added to allow our alumni to find the news stories that interest them the most. As well as Top Stories and Most Read, there are now news sections dedicated to Old Princethorpian News, Foundation Archive news, School News, Events News, Support Us News, Old Crescentians News, Old St Joseph’s News and even Landscape and Nature News. We are also working on an In Memoriam News section as well as a section on our regular OP Interviews.

There is also a new Publications section which can be found on the main site tabs. In recent years we have introduced annual reviews for all the schools and electronic copies are now available within the Publications tab. Over the years they will build into a wonderful collection providing a lovely memento of school life. Within the Publications tab you can also find copies of the recent anniversary reviews the Foundation has produced.

We have more plans too, such as a new videos section to add to the Photo Galleries so do take a look at Princethorpe Connect. Your membership brings with it many benefits, in addition to the termly OP e-newsletter including the latest news and events, you can also view private photo galleries, connect with other online members and access our Careers and Networking pages.

Why not have a quick look at what Princethorpe Connect has to offer here.

Winner Of Princethorpe Connect Easter Prize Draw Announced

Congratulations go to OP Lizzie Watson (Class of 2018) who was randomly selected as our Easter Princethorpe Connect Prize Draw winner.

A host of chocolate treats were dispatched to her in time for the Easter weekend.

We touched base with Lizzie to let her know of her win and this is what she had to say.

“I am absolutely delighted to have won the Easter hamper and can’t thank Princethorpe enough! After finishing Sixth Form in 2018, I went on to study Automotive and Transport Design at Coventry University where I achieved a 2:1 and graduated in May 2021.

Within three weeks of finishing my degree I packed my bags and moved to London to start a job at Savills Head Office within the client services team. I have been in the role almost a year, creating relationships with clients and colleagues while dealing with the craziness of the property market - which hasn’t stopped!

Having built up my LinkedIn network, I was recently offered a new role within Savills as a Prime Sales Assistant within the St John’s Wood Team, which I start on Monday 11 April. I look forward to keeping in touch with all those at Princethorpe.“

We now know who to contact when we need a new home in London and wish Lizzie all the very best with her new role!

Alumni Merchandise - Gifts For Everyone

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

If you are looking for a gift with a difference you could consider sponsoring a Brick, Paver or Element in the new Science Centre click here for more details.

Other popular items on our online shop 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.
  • Zani hats and neadbands - priced £18 and £15 respectively + postage
  • Tower pin badge. The 2cm high badge in nickel with recessed metal detail is based on the Tower logo - priced £11 + postage
  • A Spirit Of Family: The First Fifty Years Of Princethorpe College - produced to mark the College's Golden Jubilee this beautiful keepsake is a relflection on the first fifty years of Princethorpe College written by Nick Baker and Alex Darkes, it was published on 1 September 2016 - priced £21 + postage.
  • The Soaring Redbrick Tower Fine Art prints and cards sized at A2 for £40, A3 for £25 and as an A5 greetings card for £3. 
  • St. Joseph's Convent and School Fine Art print for £12.

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


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Looking Forward To Crackley Hall And St Joseph's Diamond Anniversary Gala Ball

As part of the school’s postponed 75th Anniversary celebrations we are looking forward to Crackley Hall and St Joseph's Convent School's Diamond Anniversary Gala Ball on the evening of Saturday 14 May 2022.

This event was originally scheduled for March 2020 but due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it was postponed. Two years later we are pleased to be able to host the event at Crackley Hall to celebrate this milestone. The event will give past pupils, current and former parents and staff the perfect opportunity to celebrate the school’s success and rich history.

The Gables will be transformed into a party venue for the occasion and guests will enjoy a red-carpet welcome, champagne and canapes, a delicious hot gala buffet, with a choice of desserts, cheese and tea and coffee, followed by speeches and live music and dancing. There will be a pay bar with the facility to pre-order drinks. The fun will kick off with a reception at 7.00pm and carriages will be at midnight.

Heading up the evening’s entertainment will be Revolver, a versatile five piece Midlands-based band who perform classic rock and pop covers from the 50s to the present day.

The dress code for the evening will be black tie and the equivalent for ladies.

It's going to be a wonderful event and we look forward to sharing photos from the evening with you in the next edition of the OP e-newsletter!


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

Our OP Friendly Faces scheme aims to link new first year university students to past OP pupils already established at university. Providing a friendly, familiar face to meet up with over a coffee (compliments of the OPs) or having someone to call in their new Uni town or city, does, we know, make for a smoother experience in those first few weeks away from home.

We have just contacted our current Upper Sixth with more information, to introduce them to the OP Friendly Faces scheme and to the benefits of joining Princethorpe Connect and the Old Princethorpians Association.

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We have OP Friendly Faces in around 30 university towns and cities now and would like to expand on that this year and get more of our leavers matched up for the next academic year."

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

College News

Grove du Toit Appointed As New Head Of Princethorpe College

The trustees of the Princethorpe Foundation are delighted to announce that Grove du Toit has been appointed as the new Headmaster of Princethorpe College with effect from January 2023.

Mr du Toit went through a rigorous month-long selection process to secure the post against a strong field of candidates.

Mr du Toit is currently Deputy Warden (Senior Deputy Head) at Forest School, a co-educational independent day school for children aged 4 to 18, located on the edge of Epping Forest, a position he has held for five years. He is responsible there for the day to day running of the school, which comprises some 1,500 pupils and more than 300 staff. His extensive remit encompasses oversight of many elements of school life including staffing, recruitment, operations, professional development and staff wellbeing. He also teaches Religious Studies to GCSE and A-level.

Married to Marike, with whom he shares two daughters, aged 13 and 10, Mr du Toit, 42, is a practising Christian. South African by birth, he moved to the UK in 2005 and after a brief period teaching in the maintained sector, he has held a variety of leadership roles in HMC independent schools in and around London.

Mr du Toit has two degrees from the University of Pretoria (a BA in Educational Guidance and Counselling and a BA in Biblical and Religious Studies) and a BEd from the University of South Africa in Educational Management. He also holds an MA in Educational Management from King’s College London and is currently studying for an MBA at Salford Business School.

He has a strong background in the co-curricular life of the school, in particular sport and the performing arts and in his spare time Mr du Toit loves to spend time in the outdoors with his family and dog and his interests include golf and outdoor cooking.

Current Princethorpe Headmaster, Ed Hester, who has been in post since 2009, will take on a new dedicated role as Head of the Princethorpe Foundation when Mr du Toit takes up office. This will allow him to focus on the strategic direction of the Foundation as a whole.

Comments, Liz Griffin, Chair of Trustees, “The Foundation Trustees were unanimous in the decision to appoint Grove to be the next Headmaster of Princethorpe College. His passion for education and young people shone through throughout the selection process. He has immense vision and energy combined with a wealth of experience and leaderships skills, but most importantly his personal values marry perfectly with the ethos of the College. We are delighted to welcome him and his family into the Foundation and will introduce him to staff, pupils and parents at the earliest opportunity.

She continues, “Our thanks go to Ed Hester, who has done an outstanding job as Headmaster of Princethorpe College over the last 13 years. Of course, Ed will continue to have a very keen interest in life at Princethorpe and will be on hand to ensure a smooth transition and successful handover to Grove, who will be supported by Princethorpe’s excellent Senior Leadership Team.”

Comments, Grove du Toit, “I am excited and honoured to take on the Headship of Princethorpe College and lead the school into the next stage of its development, building on the excellent work of Ed Hester. I recognise and fully appreciate what a special community Princethorpe is and upholding its ethos and spirit of family will be central to my role. I look forward to immersing myself in school life and building relationships with staff, parents and pupils alike.”

Current Headmaster, Ed Hester, adds, “Grove is a great fit for Princethorpe and brings with him a vast amount of experience and skills. I am delighted to be able to hand over the reins of running the College to him and am really excited at the prospect of working with him over the years ahead.”

Turf Cutting Marked The Start Of Work On College’s New Science Centre

In March, the start of work to create a brand-new state-of-the-art Science Centre at Princethorpe College was officially marked with a turf cutting ceremony.

The new building situated on the College campus to the north of The Limes building, will house ten laboratories, serving Biology, Chemistry and Physics teaching at the school. It will ultimately transform the College’s entire campus allowing other areas to be redeveloped and departments clustered within the main school building.

The turf cutting took place on Tuesday 1 March with the Headmaster, Ed Hester, and incoming Heads of School, Pratheesh Prabakaran and Freya Mills, donning hard hats and hi-vis jackets to perform the official ground-breaking ceremony. They were joined by Trendgrey Construction Ltd MD Nick Henderson, Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes, Chair of the Old Princethorpians Association, Peter Rollason and long-standing VSOP, Mary Wheildon.

The new £8 million Science Centre is due for completion in mid-2023, ready for opening at the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year. Trendgrey Construction moved onto site just over a week ago and have already established a large self-contained compound and the access road for the construction traffic at the back of the tennis courts in preparation for the real work commencing.

Since then, thanks to the hard work of the construction team and plenty of fine weather the new Science Centre project has made excellent progress. The foundations are now finished with the take-offs for the steels complete. Work continues with excavations for the new netball courts and the dumper trucks were kept busy over the Easter holidays relocating 1500 tonnes of spoil elsewhere on site where it will be used to level up the land.

The team have been finalising the lab designs with a specialist supplier and work is just about to start on the drainage. Work continues offsite on the steels which are currently scheduled to start being craned into place on Monday 23 May. The steels are being supplied locally by Warwick Steel who are based just south of Southam in Deppers Bridge.

The IT team have erected a time lapse camera to capture the build as it happens day by day, and we are looking forward to sharing the first footage of the project soon. It will be exciting to see our plans for Science coming together.

To find out more about our new Science Centre visit: www.princethorpe.co.uk/science-centre

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MSC Superior General Visits Princethorpe College

Princethorpe College was delighted to welcome Fr Absalón Alvarado Tovar MSC, Superior General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, to school on Tuesday 3 May.

Father Absalón was visiting from Rome, and he met with Father Alan Whelan MSC and Ed Hester Headmaster before speaking with pupils and staff.

At Tutor Time, Fr Absalón met with the Junior Chaplaincy Prefects and was presented with a College Prayer Book. Then during break, he spoke to the College staff thanking them for the work they are doing and reminding us all how the world is transformed through education.

We were honoured to be able to show Fr Absalón our school.

Inauguration Ceremony Welcomes New Princethorpe Prefect Body

The new Princethorpe College Prefect Body for 2022-2023 was formally inaugurated into office at an end of term ceremony on Tuesday 5 April. Parents and friends of those who have accepted their roles of office were invited to College for a buffet lunch before the afternoon’s formal ceremony began.

Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie, introduced the incoming prefects who were presented with their prefect badges by Ed Hester, Headmaster. The outgoing Heads of School, Anthony Convey and Caitlin Mason, handed over the keys of office to the incoming Heads of School, Freya Mills and Pratheesh Prabakaran. The College extends warm thanks to the outgoing prefect body, they have given unstinting service this last year.

The 2022-2023 Prefects smartly attired in their new uniform for the first time, spoke to the gathered audience of pupils about their hopes for their new roles. We wish them all well as they take up their duties.

The roles of office are as follows:

School Leaders
Freya Mills
Pratheesh Prabakaran

Deputy Leaders
Eve Farquharson
Annabel Koster
Edward Moon
Toby Pearton

Pastoral Prefects (incorporating House Pastoral Prefects)
Laurel Arkesden
Jasleen Birdi
William Butler
Amelia Greig
Zara Hendy
Helaina Holt
Wilf Sansum
Jamie Smith

Austin Captains
Edward Foster
Ruby Harris

Benet Captains
Eleanor Page
Grace Thomas

Fisher Captains
Will Gibson-Sexton
Keira MacRae

More Captains
Evie Phillips
Lara Tripp-Smith

Social Prefects
Zoe Wallis
Amber Williams

Charity Prefects
Noella Mbanga
Maddie Wilde

Academic Prefects
Joshua Apaya
Erin Arriordaz
William Hawkins
Madoc Williams

Marketing and Communications Prefects
Amber Cowie
Millie Giffin

Environment Prefect
Tom Paling

Games Prefects
Molly Harper
Mia Johnson
Harry King
Lucy Randall
Evan Ridd

Long-standing Head Of More House Steps Down

In March, the long-standing Head of More House, Simon Robertson, stood down. Simon had been a key pastoral leader at Princethorpe College for twelve years, having previously been Head of Year 10 and Year 11 before taking on responsibility for More when the College moved to vertical tutoring. Over the years, Simon has played an important role in the Princethorpe family, with a huge number of parents and children benefitting from his support. His commanding voice and calm demeanour always bringing a sense of order to the community. We offer our heartfelt thanks for his commitment to and support of pupils. Simon will continue as a Biology teacher at the College. He has been replaced as Head of More House by Sociology teacher, Lizzie Caisey.

The Princethorpe Foundation Welcomes Trustees

Over the last year The Princethorpe Foundation has welcomed two new members to the Board of Trustees. Mr Jatinder Birdi and Mrs Helen Knight have both joined the governing body to work with fellow Trustees to oversee the overall management and strategic direction of the Foundation.

Mr Jatinder Birdi is an accountant, with his own practice since 1998. He has two children, the eldest left Princethorpe College in 2020 and is now at University, while his youngest daughter is in the Sixth Form. Since June 2006, Mr Birdi has chaired the Warwick District Faiths Forum working to promote equality and diversity through mutual understanding and co-operation between faiths groups.

Mr Birdi, commented, “Both my children have thoroughly enjoyed their time at Princethorpe College. I am grateful for the opportunity to and privilege of joining the Board of Trustees, enabling me to support the Princethorpe community deliver a high level of education and experience for pupils.”

Mrs Helen Knight brings a wealth of educational experience having worked in secondary education for 36 years, including time as headteacher of Cardinal Wiseman School.

Mrs Knight, commented, “Since retiring in 2016, I have become a part-time PhD student at Durham University researching the development of Catholic secondary education for girls at the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. I am a member of St Anne's parish and regularly attend services at Princethorpe, so I was delighted to be asked to become a trustee of the Princethorpe Foundation. I remain passionate about Catholic Education, where I spent most of my career, and the opportunities education in a faith-based setting can give to students.”

Eddie Tolcher, Foundation Bursar and Clerk to the Trustees said, “Our Trustees bring valuable experience to the Foundation’s Governing Body. Their support and advice is much appreciated and we are delighted to have them on our Board of Trustees.

Fantastic Fisher Finish First In The House Cup

Fisher House is celebrating after winning the most hotly contested competition in school, the House Cup. Their victory was announced by House Activities Leader, Jess Newborough, in the Prefect Inauguration ceremony at the end of the Lent Term. The House Cup was presented to the outgoing Fisher House Captains, Greg Burford and Elizabeth Boyes, as jubilant Fisher pupils cheered across the school.

Before announcing the result, Mrs Newborough spoke of the challenges of the last year, her delight at how Princethorpe pupils had responded and the camaraderie and sense of community that the House activities provides. She spoke of the many House events and the importance of taking part, as just 200 points separated the winners this year. Whether the regular weekly fun of the Friday quizzes or the big events such as House Activities Day every single point contributes.

Across the year it was a steady and consistent performance that helped Fisher pupils amass their huge total of points and finish first across the line but well done to all pupils across the school who participated in the events so enthusiastically. The final results this year were: 1st Fisher, 2nd More, 3rd Austin and 4th Benet.

Huge thanks also to all the House team, including the House Activities Co-ordinators and House Captains for all they do to organise and run House events.

Registrations For September 2023 Entry Now Open!

The countdown to the College's Entrance Exams for admission in September 2023 has officially begun and our friendly Admissions Team are already busy accepting registrations and answering enquiries from prospective families.

The Entrance Exams will take place on Saturday 5 November 2022 and with just five months until the registration deadline, Friday 30 September 2022, bookings are underway for our Open Events and Taster Days.

Our latest Admissions newsletter is now available and can be found here. It is full of articles and news to give prospective parents and pupils a feel for College life, information on forthcoming open days and events and helpful advice about the admissions process. 

Our Summer Open Evening takes place on Wednesday 8 June 2022 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. This event will give prospective families a chance to look around the school and to hear from Ed Hester, the Headmaster. Places are limited and filling up fast, so please book your place via our website here.

Our Year 5 Taster days are already fully booked but there will be further opportunities to visit the school in September. To register your interest please visit out website here.

In September our Open Morning will take place on Thursday 22 September 2022 from 10.30am to 12.30pm and will provide prospective families with a chance to see the school in action on a normal working day.

If you are thinking of your son or daughter joining us for Sixth Form in 2023, we have a dedicated Sixth Form Open Evening on Wednesday 12 October 2022 from 6.30pm to 9.00pm. You will hear from the Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie regarding key events and dates in the Sixth Form application process. You will also receive specific A-level subject information and advice provided by the Heads of Departments and general information on the Sixth Form experience at Princethorpe.

For more information and to book your place at any of our Open Events or Taster Experiences please visit www.princethorpe.co.uk/visit or contact our friendly Admissions Team on 01926 634201/262/297 or email admissions@princethorpe.co.uk


Sister Boniface Mysteries On UKTV Drama Channel

The Sister Boniface Mysteries, the spin-off of the popular Father Brown series, was released in the UK on UKTV’s Drama channel. There are 12 episodes in the series which has been running weekly on Friday evenings.

The new murder mystery was filmed at Princethorpe over the summer holidays and follows the adventures of Sr Boniface, a Vespa-driving, crime solving, Cotswold-dwelling nun.

UKTV Drama’s channel can be found on Freeview, youview, TalkTalk and BT on channel 20, on Sky on channel 143, on Virgin on channel 130 and on Freesat on channel 158.

The eagle eyed amongst you will spot glimpses of the Chapel, the corridors around it, the Sixth Form Lawn and even Switzerland in the shots.

It was fantastic to see Princethorpe transported back in time and a little bird tells us that the programme may be recommissioned for a second series.

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 but particularly in Maths, English, History, Geography and PE.

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 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: 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 also 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.

Development News

Don't Miss Your Chance To Leave Your Mark On Princethorpe

More than half of the Elements for Princethorpe’s new Science Centre have already been snapped up by generous benefactors, who will now see their name engraved on an element in the striking Periodic Table graphic situated upstairs on the first floor. In fact after a recent flurry of donations, there are now only 39 left!

At a projected cost of £8 million, the College is committed to raising a proportion of the funds needed for the new Science Centre through fundraising. The building project is now well underway but there are still many ways for individuals to get involved, from smaller donations for names on a Brick, Periodic Element or Paver to more significant donations for naming equipment and laboratories. The aim is for the Princethorpe community to join together to make the vision for Science a reality, regardless of the size of your support.

The Periodic Table Elements are proving to be a popular choice so why not choose one for your family? They are going to be a stunning display. Or why not chose a Brick or a Paver to leave your mark on Princethorpe College for generations to come.

For more information, and to take advantage of this one-off opportunity, please visit the school website here or contact the Development office at makingadifference@princethorpe.co.uk. If preferred donations can be paid over a period of months, please contact the Development Office for more information.

Introducing The Princethorpe Foundation’s Annual Fund

The Annual Fund is the cornerstone of philanthropy at The Princethorpe Foundation and allows parents, supporters, and friends in the wider community to make a voluntary contribution to support the school. Those who give to this fund, including many members of staff, have the satisfaction of knowing that their donations have a significant impact. Such gifts touch the lives of every pupil in all our schools, every day of the year.

Each year, this fund supports the purchase of necessary academic and co-curricular equipment, ensures educational, enrichment and entertainment opportunities for pupils, and helps maintain the Schools’ academic and sporting facilities. The Annual Fund helps us to move forward with our plans to improve and develop the schools and the teaching and learning experiences that take place within them.

Gifts to this fund are unrestricted, allowing the Foundation’s leadership to determine where support is most needed, and can do the most good. The Annual Fund contributions are at the heart of all that we do, and all that we give to our pupils.

Every contribution is meaningful, regardless of amount and many of our supporters choose to make regular contributions, monthly or annually, big or small. These regular donations are helpful and popular as they provide critical and predictable support for the School, year on year, whilst also allowing donors to plan their giving. Those that give regularly, make a significant difference to our pupils' experiences.

Every year, parents, grandparents, Old Princethorpians, staff and friends of the Foundation donate to the Annual Fund. We invite you to help us by donating to the Annual Fund.

To find out more or make a donation visit the school website here.

Support The Princethorpe Foundation Every Time You Shop

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on amazon.co.uk. The difference is that when you shop through the smile.amazon.co.uk web address, AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) of eligible purchases to the charitable organisation selected by the customer.

So whenever you make an eligible purchase from Amazon via AmazonSmile, the charitable organisation benefits at no additional cost to you.

The Princethorpe Foundation is a charity and, within the Foundation the Development Office work to enable the provision of more bursaries to deserving pupils, to update our facilities and buildings, and to meet our strategic development plans. You can find out more about the work of the Development Office on our school website here

The Development Office is asking the Princethorpe community to consider choosing The Princethorpe Foundation as their nominated charity on AmazonSmile. 

How do I shop at AmazonSmile?

To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.co.uk from the web browser on your computer or mobile device.

Can I use my existing amazon.co.uk account on smile.amazon.co.uk?

Yes, you use the same account on amazon.co.uk and smile.amazon.co.uk. Your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same. Simply visit smile.amazon.co.uk and log in to your usual Amazon account.

Which products on AmazonSmile are eligible for charitable donations?

Millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations to charities by Amazon. You will see eligible products marked 'Eligible for smile.amazon.co.uk' on their product detail pages. Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.

How do I select to support the Princethorpe Foundation when shopping on AmazonSmile?

On your first visit to smile.amazon.co.uk you need to select a charitable organisation to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping, simply search for and select 'The Princethorpe Foundation'. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.co.uk will result in a donation to support Development Office projects.

How will you use the donations you receive?

All donations received via smile.amazon.co.uk will go towards our Annual Fund. Each year, this fund supports the purchase of necessary academic and extracurricular equipment, ensures educational, enrichment and entertainment opportunities for students, and helps maintain the School’s academic and sporting facilities. Your Annual Fund contributions are at the heart of all that we do, and all that we give to our students.

To find out more about our Annual Fund please visit our website here.


Old Princethorpians Events Calendar 2021-22

Our OPs pocket calendar includes details of all this year's events.

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

All our alumni, past parents and staff are welcome to participate in any or all of the events.

Crescent School Open Evening

Tuesday 10 May 2022 - 5.00pm - 7.00pm

The Crescent School, Princethorpe's prep school in Rugby, is opening its doors to prospective parents and children for an Open Evening on Tuesday 10 May from 5.00pm to 7.00pm. This is an opportunity for prospective families to find out why Crescent School has been judged 'Excellent' in all areas by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.  Visitors will be able to hear a presentation from Headmaster, Joe Thackway, tour the school with our pupil guides, see the facilities and meet staff.

We are now taking registrations for places in Reception and Year 3 starting in September 2023 and September 2024 but still have a few places available in Years 1 and 2 for entry this September 2022. In other year groups we have waiting groups, speak to our Registrar, Mrs Helen Morley on 01788 522851 or email admissions@crescentschool.co.uk for more information on availability.

To book your place at the Open Evening click here

If you can't make the date 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 for individual tours on most days.

For more information please click here or see our Admissions Update which was published last week.

OPs Bluebells And Brunch

Saturday 14 May - 10.30am to 12.30pm

Former parents, staff and OPs are invited to join us for Bluebells and Brunch on Saturday 14 May from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

After a full English Breakfast or something lighter you will be able to wander round the Mile Walk and visit the wildlife haven of Switzerland to enjoy the annual burst of bluebells that carpet the woodland floor.

We are delighted to be able to open our beautiful bluebell wood this spring and offer all OPs and the wider alumni community the chance to enjoy one of Princethorpe’s iconic sights.

In addition to the complimentary breakfast there will also be the chance to enjoy Saturday morning sports or take a tour of school.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. All are welcome, please do spread the word.

To join us please register on Princethorpe Connect here.

Crackley Hall School And Little Crackers Nursery Open Evening

Tuesday 19 May 2022 - 5.00pm to 7.30pm

This is an opportunity for parents and children to visit the school and nursery.  Visitors will have the chance to tour the school, see the facilities and meet pupils and staff including the Headmaster, Mr Duigan. All are welcome.

Years 5 and 6 are full and operating waiting groups for 2022 entry, limited spaces are available in other years including Reception for September 2022 entry. We are now taking registrations for Nursery and for Reception for September 2023 admissions. 

The nursery is open 51 weeks a year providing carefully structured sessions for two-year olds, three-year olds and pre-school children.

Please book your place at the Open Evening here

If you can't make the Open Evening 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 for individual tours on most days.

For more information please also see our Admissions Update which has just been published.

Princethorpe College Open Evening

Wednesday 8 June 2022 - 6.30pm to 8.30pm

The College Summer Open Evening will be a great opportunity for prospective families for September 2023 entry, to look around the school and to meet members of staff and pupils.

There will be two opportunities to hear from Ed Hester, Headmaster, at 6.45pm or 7.30pm, allowing families to explore the College before and after. So families do not miss out, we are encouraging visitors to book their place and time slot for the talk. 

Click here to book your place.

Our Year 5 Taster Days are now fully booked. However, prospective pupils who have yet to attend a Taster Day can register their interest in attending our Year 6 Taster Days in September. Click here to register your interest and be the first to book one of our Taster Days.

If you have any questions please contact the Admissions Team on 01926 643201/262 or 297 or email admissions@princethorpe.co.uk.





Princethorpe College Summer Art, Photography, Design and Textiles Show

Thursday 23 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm and Sunday 26 June from 2.00pm to 4.30pm

A celebration of our pupils' GCSE and A-level Art, Photography, Design and Textiles work will take place in the Chapel and cloister corridor on Thursday 23 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm and on Sunday 26 June from 2.00pm to 4.30pm.

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

Comments, Paul Hubball, Head of Art, "This is a great opportunity to share our pupils' fantastic creativity with a wider audience and to welcome more art and design lovers to Princethorpe."

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

View Gallery

OPs Summer Supper Reunion - Last Call For The Leavers Of 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002 And 2012

Friday 24 June 2022 - 6.00pm optional tour, 7.00pm drinks reception, 7.30pm supper

OPs who left the College in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012 (or those who were in the same year groups) are cordially invited back to the OPs annual Summer Supper on Friday 24 June to celebrate their respective 50th, 40th, 30th, 20th and 10th anniversaries of leaving.

Leavers of year groups ending in a 0 and 1, who missed out, and other year groups are also most welcome. 

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "This event is proving very popular and we already have some 80 guests booked to attend. We know many OPs are keener to come to these events if they can be sure of seeing some familiar faces.  By focusing on year groups ending in a 2, we hope to get a critical mass of attendees, although OPs from other years are of course welcome too!"

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

Numbers are limited to around 100 guests, so if you would like to attend please go to Princethorpe Connect by Friday 10 June to reserve your place.

View Gallery

PTA Summer Fête 2022

Sunday 26 June - 2.00pm to 4.30pm

We are pleased to confirm that this year's PTA Summer Fête and Motoring Festival will take place on Sunday 26 June 2022 in the Orchard between 2.00pm and 4.30pm.

There will be plenty of entertainment for children and adults alike, countless fun, games and activities, BBQ, refreshments, bar, pupils’ stalls, over 30 external stalls, a raffle and many, many more exciting things for all the family to enjoy.  

Please add the date to your calendar. 


25th College Motoring Festival

Sunday 26 June - 11.00am and 2.00pm to 4.30pm

One of the highlights of the School Calendar is the Annual Motoring Festival. The event which takes place alongside the College Summer Fête, is celebrating its Silver Jubilee as it reaches its twenty-fifth year.

The Motoring Festival is open to anyone keen to bring any sort of classic, vintage, veteran or interesting vehicle along for the afternoon. Invitations are extended to motoring clubs and it is anticipated that many OPs, parents, friends and supporters will bring along cars, motorbikes and commercials. There will be rally plaques for all pre-booked vehicles and awards for self-judged competitions.

There will also be the usual morning road run at 11.00am following a beautiful route of about
30 miles through local countryside. Vehicles taking part in the run need to arrive at Princethorpe for 11.00am. Food will be available for a nominal charge on return to Princethorpe at lunch-time, or feel free to bring a picnic

The revised arrangements for motoring clubs attending will stay in place for 2022, with a slightly earlier deadline this year for entries. The entry must be submitted on the Car Clubs’ Entry Form provided by Wednesday 1 June 2022 and emailed to alexdarkes@princethorpe.co.uk please.

It’s always a great event for diehard petrol heads and for families as well as there is plenty to keep all interested at the Summer Fête.

For more information or to register online please visit the school website. 

Arts Society - Huge Page Memorial Organ Recital

Wednesday 29 June - 7.30pm

On Wednesday 29 June at 7.30pm in the Chapel, Tim Campain will play a wide variety of pieces from various genres. 

The renowned Princethorpe Binns’ organ of 1901 was built by James J Binns, Bramley Organ Works, Leeds. It was restored by Hugh Page in 1984.

From our archives we have a fascinating insight into the numerous letters that were written between Peter Paul Pugin and Sister Procurator of the Priory regarding the organ and the delay in placing the organ. An extract from one of the letters:

March 30th 1901 

...."it is all nonsense Binns saying the organ would be finished long ago if he had has a design for case. I sent him the design for case with full working drawings which he never acknowledged. He could have worked on it at once. The console is quite a separate affair. When I see Binns I will give him a bit of my mind. I was not at all extravagant in the design for the case and a tracing of it is now enclosed which you will kindly return after M Prioress has seen it. I will send on details of console as soon as I can!"

Please click here to reserve your place

Tickets - £5.00 including refreshments. All Foundation pupils free of charge.

The main image shows the original position of the organ console - it was moved to the gallery in approximately 1908 to make way for a statue of St Peter. This statue was taken by the nuns to Fernham when they left St Mary's Priory 1965. 

OPs vs College Sports Day 2022

Saturday 3 September 2022

We are gearing up for the 11th annual Old Princethorpians vs College Sports Day (and 13th John Shinkwin Trophy Match) on Saturday 3 September. 

We are planning to repeat our previous format with a relaxing day that mixes sporting matches with music, a complimentary BBQ and ice cream van and a subsidised bar.

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

Format of day:

10.45am to 12.00pm Football OPs vs Staff

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

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

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

2.30pm to 3.45pm Rugby - John Shinkwin Trophy - Princethorpe College 1st XV Boys vs OPs XV (leavers of 2022 and 2021)

4.15pm - After Match Awards by the BBQ

We are keen to get as many OPs from across the generations participating. If you are interested in playing in any of the sports please complete the short online form here by Friday 26 August


Heritage Open Day At Princethorpe

Sunday 18 September 2022 2.00pm - 4.30pm

Heritage Open Days, England’s biggest heritage and culture festival returns this September and Princethorpe College is once again taking part.

On Sunday 18 September you are invited to come and explore St Mary's Priory, one of the first Catholic buildings constructed in England after the reformation. Join us for a tour of this magnificent building and learn all about its history, including the amazing women that made it the place it is today.

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

Our archive team will be conducting free tours of the College on Sunday 18 September from 2.00pm - 4.30pm. Watch Princethorpe Connect and the College and OP Facebook pages for more information closer to the event date.


Old Princethorpian Interview

Dan Farrell

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

I live in South Tottenham, London with my partner Simon.

For work, I run my own business: a filmmaking workshop company called Sparks. I founded the company in 2010 with my business partner and we teach children how to make films and have a franchise network across the UK of film schools for children.

Age: 36

When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to?


What was the school like in your day?

I remember the trusting and friendly atmosphere, kind and supportive teachers, a beautiful building and grounds and making lifelong friendships. Arriving from a different school, I remember being amazed that you could put your bag down in by the West Door and nobody would steal it. There was an eccentric and warm bunch of teachers: Mr Darkes, Mr Philpott, Mrs Robinson, Mme Wood, Mr Taylor, Mrs Francis, Ms Litterick, Mr Kettering, Mrs Collinson, Dr Peaple, Fr Whelan, Mr Miller, Mr Moroney, Mrs McCullough, Mrs Minehane, Mrs Armitage and of course the formidable M L O’Keeffe. I arrived at the school in the wake of two of my brothers Adam and Matthew. We were there at the tail end of the school as a boarding school and I remember being taken on a tour of what the new building renovations would look like - it felt like we were leaving on the cusp of the school changing quite dramatically.

How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

I think it definitely gave me confidence. Before Princethorpe I went to a school that I found it hard to be myself at, where I had to hide away, and Princethorpe gave me room to start to be myself.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Be kind and be honest with yourself. I probably wouldn’t have listened though…

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

Probably my parents. Both born to Irish farmers before moving to Coventry, they grew up in very different households to the ones they provided for me and my brothers. They worked hard every day of their working lives to provide for and build their family. Their work ethic has inspired me so much.

What keeps you awake at night?

Running a service based business in the pandemic certainly took its toll.

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

Having a book published (The Movie Making Book), felt great. In 2019 I was invited to Prague to watch a film festival with some films that our students had made - that felt lovely too.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

I think I’m a pretty indulgent person. I love a big gin and tonic, really enjoy going out for dinner and always have a pudding. Over lockdown I hired a hot tub.

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

I’d probably want a Chinese, in Chinatown. I’d want a mix of well cooked interesting things as well as all of the trashy takeaway stuff. There would be a lot of Hoisin Duck pancakes.

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

My partner and friends on a sunny terrace drinking something cold.

Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

I’ll always remember those years very fondly. I think I’ll always remember those corridors - and trying to find the mysterious priest hole escape tunnel, with the rumours of ghosts and disappearing windows - it felt like we went to school in a magical castle. There were so many great trips and experiences - but I remember taking the keys to the tower and climbing the steps so I could get out of Wednesday games. We stood up at the top of the tower and watched everyone else playing rugby and hockey (never my thing at all) and I remember thinking what a beautiful place we all got to grow up in.

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

Yes - I’m pleased to say quite a few.

Siôn Williams, Chris Griffin, Chris Lee, Jo Lee, Faye Brothers, Lizzie Cullen, Kate Crowley, Jenny Weigham and Mitch Reid.

I remember on our last day Mr Hubball gave an assembly and told us that we would be fortunate to stay in touch with one person after school - so I guess I’m very lucky.

Is there anyone you would like to track down?

I’d love to catch up with anyone that remembers me and fancies a cocktail. 2024 will be twenty years since we left, so maybe it’s time for a reunion?

Births, Deaths & Marriages

Annie And James Welcome Baby Millie

Congratulations to Annie Morel (Class of 2009) and James Cleaver (Class of 2010) on the safe arrival of their baby daughter, Millie Grace.

Millie Grace was born on 17 August 2021, weighing 7lb 14oz at Warwick Hospital.

Annie takes up the story:

"She’s now 8 months old and is the happiest and most content little girl with the biggest character. She’s always smiling and has constantly chasing after her, keeping us on our toes. We are absolutely loving parenthood and everything that comes with it."

Baby Leo Joins The Parsons Family

Congratulations to Matt Parsons (Class of 2020) and his wife Kate on the safe arrival of their second son, Leo Camron Parsons born on Friday 22 April, weighing in at 8lb 9oz.

We're delighted to hear that Baby Leo is doing well and that Gabriel is loving being a big brother.


John Wheildon (Class of 1972)

It is with enormous sadness that we record the death of Old Princethorpian, John Wheildon, on 23 February 2022, after a short illness bravely borne.

The Wheildon family is inextricably linked with Princethorpe. John’s elder sister, Mary, was at St Mary’s Priory in the 1960s and his children Emily, Peter and Michael are all past pupils, as indeed was his wife Marie’s brother, Stephen Calnan.

Born in 1954, Bernard John Wheildon grew up in the Warwickshire village of Kineton, where his father owned various properties and was a pillar of the local community. John joined Princethorpe College, where he would have been one of the first boys, who in 1966, transferred to the new school from St Bede’s College in Leamington. On leaving, in 1972, having been Deputy Head Boy, he returned to Kineton where he ran Greenhill’s Stores for some years and Mary had the florist shop next door! In later years he made a change of direction into horticulture and landscaping.

His faith and his family were absolutely central to his life. Sunday was his day of rest: Mass at St Francis of Assisi Church in Kineton – where he had been an altar server - followed by coffee with friends, roast dinners, watching sport, or walking through National Trust gardens. He took part in the liturgical celebrations, involving his own family and assisted the parish in its development and growth. He received the Ubi Caritas award in 2017 for his dedicated service to the parish of Kineton for so many years.

John was never far away from sport; he was a competitive tennis and basketball player at school: the perfect team member with his innate humanity, generosity of spirit, keen humour and fairness. He was also a member of Warwick Boat Club, where he continued to play tennis up until last November and where he was well known and feared for his thundering serve!

John also skied, hiked, camped and relished swimming, surfing and snorkelling in the sea. In fact, any game, be it croquet, Mahjong, Uno or beach boules he could turn his strong hands to – and always with success. The highlight of all this would be a drink, a barbecue and jovial chat afterwards. He was also enthusiastic about travel.

Often seen with a paintbrush in hand, John was a fount of knowledge when it came to the practical things, such as gardening and property maintenance, or anything mathematical and he was keen to pass these skills on to others.

John very much died in a state of grace, ready to meet the Lord he knew and served so well. He died knowing how greatly loved he was and so proud and thankful of Marie and his family for their love, strength and faith. He was kind, popular, of impeccable integrity and respected immensely by all who knew him.

We send heartfelt condolences to John’s family and friends and give thanks for his life.

Bernard John Wheildon: 27 February 1954 to 23 February 2022. A Requiem Mass, celebrated by Father David Tams, was held on Friday 4 March 2022, at St Francis of Assisi church in Kineton, followed by burial at the Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground at Edgehill.

Martin Glynn RIP

The Old Princethorpians have just received this message from OP Melvin Glynn.

"It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of my elder brother Martin Glynn who died yesterday (Monday 2 May) after a short illness. Martin attended the College between 1969 and 1974.

"This sad news comes four years after my younger brother, Mark, who was also an Old Princethorpian, died. We ‘Glynn’ boys Martin, Michael, Melvin and Mark all attended the College and are one of only a few four boy families to have all attended. I thought some of his old school class mates would want to know."

Our sincere condolences go out to surviving brothers Michael and Melvin and their families and friends.

Cotswold Wedding Day For Emma and Adam

Congratulations to Emma Thomas (nee Batchelder) and her new husband Adam who married on Friday 22 April in Moreton-in-the Marsh.

Emma who was in the Class of 2008 is now a Vice President for an Insurance Broker and husband Adam is a Director for a Marketing firm. The happy couple are planning a honeymoon for later in the year.

We wish them all the very best for their life together!


Christmas Engagement For Lucy And Matthew

OP Lucy McDermott (Class of 2016) got engaged to Matthew Bailey in Stratford-on-Avon on 30 December 2021.

Lucy was completely shocked when she was asked the question! They are over the moon to share the news that they will be getting married in the Princethorpe College Chapel next year.

This is special time for Lucy and her family as her brother and dad both went to Princethorpe. Also it makes it even more special as many of the wedding party are Old Princethorpians. Alex McDermott is an usher. Anna Fraser, Katherine Pollard and Charlotte Spencer are all bridesmaids and Josh Popham, former head boy is man of honour. Lucy and Matthew can’t wait for August next year when all their plans come together!!

Wedding Bells For Becci Morris And Fiance James

Plans are well underway for the wedding of Becci Morris (Class of 2009) and her fiance, James Boswell.

The happy couple will be getting married on 24 September at St Marie's Church in Rugby. The church is very special to Becci, as she attended Mass there all her life and her maternal grandparents, both her brothers and many other members of the family have been married there.

The happy couple met in August 2020, when they were introduced by Becci's brother Shaun who worked with James.  James is a civil engineer and Becci is a pharmacist in Daventry.

We wish them all the very best for their big day!!













Memory Bank

School Origins

Before she left our Foundation Archivist, Janette Ratcliffe, shared a series of tweets on the @PFdn_Archives Twitter account on theme of school origins. They were a bite sized Foundation History lesson over the course of just one week. We thought we should reshare them here, just in case you missed them, for you all to enjoy.

Princethorpe College

There's been a school at Princethorpe since 1835 but its #SchoolOrigins date back further. After fleeing France in 1792, Benedictine nuns spent 40 years in England before settling here. I always ask Year 7 to imagine what it was like to moves so much pre-cars and trains.

Schools were opened at previous locations in Norfolk, Yorkshire and Lancashire. The nuns were victims of their own success in Norfolk and Yorkshire as they outgrew the rented property but mining subsidence was to blame for them leaving Lancashire.

Luckily for us, land came up for sale in Warwickshire in 1832 and the nuns built St Mary's Priory - home for the next 130+ years. The girls' school was a key part of the mission and helped funds too. By 1960s, it was too expensive and Princethorpe College came into being.

When the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart opened Princethorpe College in 1966, they were already running a school called St Bede's College in Leamington. Looking for more space, they were given permission to buy Princethorpe and the site transitioned to a boys' school.

Princethorpe College became the Senior School and St Bede's remained as the Junior School. This continued until 1975 when the MSCs decided to close it. A tough decision! In the first year, some of the Junior children transferred early.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart who ran both St Bede's and Princethorpe College were founded in Issoudun by Jules Chevalier in 1854. His ethos is still at the heart of what we do here at Princethorpe today.

Crackley Hall School

Crackley Hall School has not always been called Crackley Hall - it started life as St Joseph's. Originally founded in Coventry by the Sisters of Mercy, it moved to its current site in 1945 after the Gosford Green site was largely destroyed in WW2.

The Gables was purchased soon after and became the main school building. The Sisters of Mercy ran it until 1991 when it transferred to a lay trust. Since merging with Princethorpe College in 2001, this super school has gone from strength-to-strength.

Crescent School

The newest school to join the Foundation in 2016, Crescent School was founded by Mrs Eve Mortimer to teach the children of Rugby Masters in 1946. Initially at Troy House, it then moved to Horton Crescent where it got its name. Mrs Mortimer was Head from 1946-1971!

Everything was going well until Crescent School received the surprising news that their lease at Horton Crescent would end in 1988. The race was on to find a new school building - luckily their current location at Bawnmore Road became available!

The school has continued to grow and change and in October 2021, the marvellous Horton Centre was opened giving more teaching rooms and dedicated music/ drama spaces. I love the nod back to its origins in the name too!


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OP Updates

Ben Pinto's Continuing Musical Success

Director of Music, Gil Cowlishaw was delighted to catch up with the musical success of former student, Ben Pinto (Class of 2017) in February when attending a concert at Warwick Arts Centre by Chineke!

Gil takes up the story:

Chineke! are a highly prestigious and internationally renowned orchestra, providing opportunities for black and ethnically diverse Classical musicians. Their motto is ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’.

When thumbing through the concert programme, who was playing 1st Clarinet? The one and only Ben Pinto! 

I managed a brief chat with his mum and dad who were in the audience too (and very pleased that his Princethorpe Music teacher was present!). They told me he successfully completed his undergraduate degree at the Royal Northern College of Music last year, and is now studying a Masters performance degree there, whilst undertaking freelance performance work (such as his work with Chineke!).

We look forward to hearing more about Ben's musical success in the future!


OP Evie Receives A Chief Constable's Commendation

A huge well done to OP Evie Headland (Class of 2021) who has recently been presented with a special Chief Constable’s Commendation that celebrates ‘remarkable acts of bravery and commitment’, at a ceremony at Warwick Racecourse. Evie received her award after saving the life of a child who had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Evie, who was 17 at the time, lived next door to the girl and was on her way home when she noticed her neighbour in distress. She went into the house and found the girl in cardiac arrest and administered CPR until paramedics. You can read the full news report on the presentation here: https://rugbyobserver.co.uk/news/life-saving-teenager-among-recipients-of-warwickshire-police-awards-36886/

And there is no limit to Evie’s desire to do good either, as she has signed up to run the London Marathon this year. She will be pounding the pavements for the charity Blind Veterans UK in October and as she starts her journey towards her marathon challenge would really appreciate your support.

You can find out more about her challenge here: https://tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/evie-headland-7da5c

Andrew Kristy Writes Music For Birmingham Royal Ballet 25th Anniversary Celebration

We were delighted to hear that former Princethorpe peripatetic music teacher, Andrew Kristy, has been asked to write the Opening and Finale orchestral music for the Birmingham Royal Ballet - ‘DT25’ - 25 year celebration shows to be performed this May.

Comments Andrew, "I feel so honoured to have been asked this celebratory piece. I recently played the draft music to Artistic Director Carlos Acosta and he was graciously complimentary and wants me to change nothing. “Becoming” will be given its premiere on Sunday 8 May. Writing for a 10 minute Grand Défilé is a challenge in itself, but it’s been a huge amount of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished choreography very soon."

OP Will Lyne Now Owns And Runs Christopher Peters Kitchens & Interiors

Almost 20 years on from his time at Princethorpe, OP Will Lyne (Class of 2004) is now bringing luxury living to Leamington and beyond.

We caught up with Will, a Warwickshire-based entrepreneur and dad-of-two. who has combined his plumbing skills with his eye for design by taking over as owner and lead designer at luxury kitchen and interiors company, Christopher Peters.

Will, who was a student at Princethorpe in the early noughties, graduated in 2004 and went straight on to pursue a plumbing apprenticeship at Warwickshire College. After gaining a few years of on-the-job experience, Will set up his own plumbing and heating company before he turned 25 – successfully running that for more than a decade.

Having worked with a number of local kitchen companies over the years, Will became well-known for his attention to detail and his unwavering work ethic. One company he worked closely with was Christopher Peters Kitchens & Interiors, and when the time came for the founders, Christopher and Jill Peters, to sell up and retire, they approached the person they knew would carry on the legacy of the luxury brand: Will.

So, in April 2019, Will and his wife, Grace, invested in the business. It had already been a busy few years for the couple, having had their son, Theo, the previous summer and then getting married in December 2018 – all whilst taking on their own renovation project and building their dream home. Within a matter of months, Will and Grace had put their own stamp on the already successful business, wowing local clients with their knowledge of the design and install process. Offering a truly bespoke service, clients were keen to meet with Will, Grace and their team of specialists at their showroom – based on Regent Grove in Leamington Spa – and see their unique flair for classic interior design for themselves.

But then COVID hit, and in-person client meetings became a thing of the past, at least for a couple of years. Will and Grace leapt into action, meeting with clients virtually and doing everything within their power to continue to source materials and carry on with renovation projects. Welcoming their second child – a little girl, called Sophia, in October 2020 - was a great end to a rather challenging year. Throughout 2021, Christopher Peters went from strength to strength and undertook some pretty impressive, large-scale renovations. With Will at the helm, Christopher Peters is now one of the most well-known and respected bespoke furniture providers in the area – and running the company brings the Old Princethorpian a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

Will told us, “I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. Running Christopher Peters combines the practical, former-plumber side of me with my passion for creativity. If you’d have asked me what I would be doing almost 20 years after leaving school, I’m sure it would have been something close to what I’m doing now. I’ve always had a can-do attitude, which is why Christopher Peters is as successful as it is. I love running my family-owned local business, and it’s something I’ll be proud to do for the next however many years.”

You can find  out more about Christopher Peters here:

Showroom address: 9 Denby Buildings, Regent Grove, Leamington Spa, CV32 4NY

Website: https://christopherpeters.com/

Email: contact@christopherpeters.com

Contact no: 01926 832511

Instagram: @christopherpeterskitchens

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Christopher-Peters-Kitchens-Interiors-Ltd


Luke Skiffington Exhibits At Liverpool's Walker Gallery

If you are in Liverpool over the next few months, why not take a trip down to the Walker Gallery and take in The Refractive Pool exhibition including work by OP and artist Luke Skiffington.

The new exhibition of work by 40 local artists runs until 8 Jan 2023 and aims to celebrate the diversity of contemorarypainting in the city today.

Luke lives and works in Liverpool now. He left Princethorpe in 1996 and went on to study Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and Chelsea College of Art in London. 

To see more about Luke's work, follow him on instagram or visit http://www.lukeskiffington.com/.

OP Steve Rogers Heads To Scotland To Enjoy The Outdoors

Steve Rogers (Class of 1999) has upped sticks and moved with his wife to Scotland, he takes up the story here:

I joined Ooni Pizza Ovens in early 2022 to lead a team of creative Product Design Engineers when in the office and change my lifestyle away from work. My wife and I have moved to Scotland, living and working just outside of Edinburgh. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to inspire and grow a design team that create great pizza products. Ooni have a great culture, huge ambitions and a genuine passion to make great pizza at home.

I intend to make sure that both our dreams become reality as we make Scotland our new home. We will enjoy the outdoors together, with our Springer, in a country we have loved visiting over many years together!


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Molly Geehan Roving Commonwealth Games Reporter

Hi, I’m Molly and I left Princethorpe in 2019 and came to the University of Worcester to study a degree in Journalism.

Throughout my time at University, I have faced many challenges, particularly the pandemic, but I have now come out the other side and have just handed in my dissertation titled Sexism in Sport: How the Uniform Shapes the Athlete.

In my second year I completed the Sports Journalism module which made my love for sports grow even stronger. So, when I heard that the Commonwealth Games were coming to Birmingham this year, I knew I had to apply. Following my interview in September, I received a job offer as a Flash Quote Reporter which means I will be interviewing the athletes just as they are stepping off the world stage! Once I have finished the interviews, my notes will be written up and sent out to major news outlets such as the BBC and ITV. I couldn’t quite believe it as I have only just finished my degree, and this is my first journalism job. We have just completed some role specific training and are waiting for venue specific training before the Games start at the end of July. I am so excited to get stuck in and interview some world class athletes over the two-week period.

My plans for the future are still very much in the works but my main goal is to work in the social media sector of a fashion brand, creating content for their social media channels and working closely with their copywriters to create top quality posts.

I will be sure to let everyone at Princethorpe know my progress and how I get on at the Commonwealth Games; you might even see me on the TV!

OP Gary Watts Visited Princethorpe In April

On a recent trip back to the England, I found time to visit Princethorpe College with my girlfriend in April of this year. This was only the second time I've been back since leaving the school in 1982. I joined the Army in March 1984 and left in mid 1990. Having secured residency in the US, I moved there once I left the Military. After 25+ years, I recently retired from the San Francisco Police Department and moved to the US East Coast. I was saddened to hear the news of Stan Silcock's passing a few years ago. He was my form teacher and also a big influence in my life.

It was good to see Mr. Darkes still plodding away in his (new) office. When I met him, I immediately called him 'Sir'. He has an incredible memory remembering not just myself, but also my two brothers. Princethorpe College has gone through many changes since my time there, but it is still my 'home away from home'. I hope to visit the school again.

Gary Watts
Princethorpe College 1979-82

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Nicky Sykes Graduation News

Leaver of 2017, Nicky Sykes celebrated her graduation in April 2022, she takes up the story:

I am thrilled to announce that I have graduated from Nottingham Trent University after completing my BSc in Psychology. I thoroughly enjoyed the past four years and I am now completing a Masters degree in Human Resource Management!

I would like to thank Princethorpe College for all their support and guidance in my achievements.