Welcome to the Old Princethorpian, the Foundation's termly e-newsletter for past pupils, staff and parents. 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 news and updates from OPs across the decades. There are also details of upcoming events, including the OPs Local Meet.

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

Do stay in touch and we look forward to seeing many of you at our events this year.


Alumni News

Have Your Say On The Shape Of Old Princethorpians To Come

With the recent launch of the Foundation Strategic Plan (see Foundation News) the OPs Committee have decided to review their constitution through the same approach of focusing on key 'pillars' or areas of activity.

To that end instead of the usual Committee Meeting in the Trinity Term, there will be an extraordinary meeting in the form of an interactive workshop. This will involve a larger number of OPs, including we hope representatives from across the generations and from each of the Foundation's heritage schools.

Attendees will be encouraged to comment on existing activities and generate new ideas so we can formulate pillars which reflect what the community wants from the association going forward.

The meeting will take place in April at the College and a buffet supper will be provided.

If you would be interested in attending please email Melanie Butler, OPs' Secretary at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk or call her on 01926 634284 by Tuesday 16 April .

An Evening With Marc Marot

An Evening with OP Marc Marot took place on Friday 13 October and gave the Princethorpe community a fascinating insight into life in the fast-moving global music industry from the late 80s through to the 2000s and beyond. 

Old Princethorpian Marc Marot, who left the College in 1977, took his audience on a rollercoaster ride of the highs and lows of his self-professed ‘chaotic’ and ‘serendipitous’ career. His talk charted his journey from leaving school with dreams of becoming a rockstar and working at a record store, to managing iconic bands and performers, such as the Cranberries, Stereo MCs, Pulp and U2 and running global record labels and talent management companies including Polygram and Crown Talent Management. 

Mentored by music industry legend, Chris Blackwell, Mark’s career started in music publishing at Eaton Music, he swiftly progressed to become the youngest managing director of Island Records at just 30 years old. His talk was interspersed with snippets of recordings from an eclectic range of hits from artists Massive Attack to De La Soul and The Verve to Elbow, much to the audience’s delight. 

Marc also spoke affectionately of his time at Princethorpe, the lifelong friends he made and is still in close contact with today, several of which were in the audience, and of the burgeoning of his music career playing his cello in the school orchestra. 

His career branched out into film and TV production, and he was one of the first embracers of the power of the world wide web. Having worked closely with U2 developing their award-winning website, Marc also spoke with great admiration for the band’s lead singer Bono and his charitable work, particularly the Jubilee 2000 campaign aimed at cancelling Third World debt. 

Marc spoke of the need for drive and dogged determination when pursuing your dreams and seeking out opportunities. He recognised that being fearless had been an important factor in his success. He has prided himself on discovering new and original talent over his career but admitted that the music industry is now a much different place, with social media playing a huge part in the success of artists. 

In latter years Mark has branched out into the art field with a collaboration with Scarlett Raven with augmented reality digital art based on the 100-year anniversary of The Battle of the Somme. 

The evening rounded off with a lively Q & A from the audience, with many questions from young Princethorpians with a desire to enter the industry and time for more questions over a buffet supper in the Sixth Form Centre. 

We thank Marc for so generously giving of his time and for sharing his amazing career with us. 

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Christmas Came Early For OP Steve Dade

Christmas came early for OP, Steve Dade (1986 -1990), who was the lucky recipient of this year's Princethorpe Connect Christmas Hamper Prize Draw.

Steve who lives in Coventry, with his wife of 23 years, Becky, and teenage daughter, Charly, works in behaviour management at Evergreen School in Warwick, a 4-19 school for children and young people with Special Educational Needs.

Steve received his prize from OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, who hand delivered it to his home in Coventry.

Commented Steve, “I was delighted to hear of my win, it was lovely to share with the family over Christmas!”

Steve is still great friends with fellow OP, Richard Williams. Remembering his time at Princethorpe, Steve commented “I have some great memories from my time at Princethorpe, I was in More House and my form tutors were Paul Adams, Frank McGreevy and John Miller. I have particularly fond memories of playing for the school Rugby team as we were very good!”

Thanks to all those who engaged with Princethorpe Connect in the run up to the prize draw, we now have over 1,500 online members and look forward to building on this in 2024!

Crescent Welcomes Daughter Of Founder Back To School

Crescent School warmly welcomed former pupil and teacher, Felicity Furber, and former governor, Mark Furber, back to school on Tuesday 16 January to help celebrate Founder’s Day. The school was marking its 76th birthday and also the publication of its updated A History Of Crescent School.

Mr and Mrs Furber took part in a Founder’s Day Assembly, then answered questions posed by the School Council before enjoying a tour of the school.

During the assembly, six Year 6 pupils shared extracts from the school’s early history. Dressed in original school uniform, they spoke about the experiences of the early pupils when the school was situated in Rugby town centre, on Horton Crescent adjacent to Rugby School.

Mrs Furber is the daughter of the school’s first headmistress, Mrs Eve Mortimer, and has a long and close association with Crescent School. Mr and Mrs Furber were delighted to be able to share new information and anecdotes about the school’s early years, bringing the Founder’s Day celebrations vividly to life for pupils.

During the visit, Crescent School discovered that Mr Furber has his own strong connection to the school’s current Bawnmore Road site. Mr Furber was one of the first pupils to attend the former, St Mark’s School when it opened on the Bilton site back in 1950, prior to its acquisition in 1988 by Crescent School.

Headmaster, Joe Thackway, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr and Mrs Furber into school. The children had so many questions for them, and it really helped them understand what the school was like in its early years and to appreciate that while many aspects of the school have changed, there is much that remains the same.”

Mrs Furber commented, "It meant a lot to me to see how the school is thriving in every way.”

Copies of the second edition of A History of Crescent School have been shared with parents and contributors and a digital version is available to download for free on the school website here: https://www.theprincethorpefoundation.co.uk/publications-crescent. Printed copies are also freely available for all Old Crescentians and local residents. They can be requested here: https://connect.princethorpe.co.uk/shop (there is a small £2 charge to cover UK postage).

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A History Of Crescent 75th Anniversary Edition

In 2023, the Foundation marked the 75th anniversary of Crescent School’s inception back in the post war world of 1948. The school celebrated in different ways over the year, with the highlight being a School Fair in the summer term that included an open day for Old Crescentians.

As part of these celebrations, Crescent also published a much-updated version of the school history. The new version builds on the first edition and brings the story up to the present day.

It rightly celebrates all that is good about Crescent School, including its heritage of achievement in sport, music, the performing arts and of course academic results and pastoral care. It also recognises former and longstanding staff who have played an important part in the school’s success.

Copies of the second edition of A History of Crescent School have been shared with parents and contributors and a digital version is available to download for free on the school website here: https://www.theprincethorpefoundation.co.uk/publications-crescent. Printed copies are also freely available for all Old Crescentians and local residents. They can be requested here: https://connect.princethorpe.co.uk/shop (there is a small £2 charge to cover UK postage).

College Prize Giving Celebrates Pupils’ Exceptional Achievements

Another exceptional year of achievement, progress, creativity and contribution was celebrated at Princethorpe College’s annual Prize Giving Ceremony at the Butterworth Hall, at Warwick University’s Arts Centre on Friday 24 November.

Before the ceremony, the Old Princethorpians Committee hosted a special Drinks Reception for the returning Class of 2023 and their parents, providing a welcome opportunity for last year’s cohort to get together and catch up.

Chair of Trustees, Mrs Liz Griffin, opened the proceedings, warmly welcoming parents, friends of the College and Princethorpians old and new to the occasion and then Father Alan Whelan MSC then led the assembled community in an opening prayer.

In his formal address, the Headmaster, Grove du Toit, gave thanks to all those who make Princethorpe the special place it is. He reflected on all that has happened this last year and encouraged us to celebrate and appreciate the journey of our pupils. He reminded pupils that they are, and always will be, a part of the Old Princethorpian family and encouraged them to stay in touch.

All evening the atmosphere was joyful and celebratory and there were superb musical interludes from the school String Orchestra, Concert Band and the Year 7 Chorus, whose performance of Shine and This Is Me were both enthusiastic and uplifting.

Then it was time for the presentation of the awards. Listening to the citations was truly inspiring and humbling. The talent in evidence, the grit and determination, the passion, enthusiasm and commitment were all applauded and honoured.

Finally, we came to the main award, the Princethorpe Shield, the oldest and most prestigious College award presented annually to the student who is seen to embody the spirit and ethos of the College in many facets of their school life. It was a very popular decision this year, with the audience cheering a delighted and surprised Grace Thomas who was thrilled to receive the Shield.

Foundation Principal, Ed Hester then spoke echoing Mr du Toit’s congratulations, before the current Heads of School, Natalya Elden and Izzy Wright, gave an eloquent vote of thanks.

The evening came to a close with the singing of the College Hymn, Here I Am Lord.

The full list of Prize Winners can be found in the Prize Giving Programme here.

Emails with links to the photo galleries were sent to the Class of 2023 and the Prize Winners, however, you can also access the photos below by clicking on the relevant links. 

Leavers of 2023
Click on the relevant links below to view the three galleries of photographs:

(NB you will need to login to view the galleries. Please note there are several pages of photos within the galleries to click through. If you are not currently a member of Princethorpe Connect, please click here to join.)

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Princethorpe Pupils Awarded Top Honours In ISA Regional Art Competition

Three Princethorpe pupils were awarded top honours in the Regional ISA Art Competition, a testament to the depth and range of talent in Princethorpe's Art and Photography Department.

Recent Upper Sixth leaver, OP Ruby Harris placed first in the Painting Over 16 class. Ruby’s winning portrait, titled Fast Food, was part of her coursework for her A-level Art examination, it is a superb, striking, lifelike image and a well-deserving winner.

Her classmate, OP Ava Jones’s compendium of drawings took first place in the very competitive Over 16 Sketchbook class. Exploring themes about Obsessive, Compulsive, Orderliness and Perfection disorder her sketchbook submission showcased her preparations for her final piece that was also of an incredibly high standard.

Lower Sixth Former, Amaanya Bose took first prize in the Drawing U16 class. Her pencil piece receiving recognition, People and Places, was also part of her coursework for her GCSE Art examination.

Recent leaver, OP Amber Williams just missed out with her stunning images, also on the theme of Fast Food, taking a well-deserved second place in the Photography Over 16 class.

Paul Hubball, Head of Art and Photography, commented, “Many congratulations to all of our winners, they are worthy recipients of this year’s awards. Their entries were exceptional and the product of many hours of work. It is marvellous to see their talent rewarded in this way.”

A huge well done to them all!

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Princethorpe Connect Membership Reaches 1500

A huge thank you to all our Princethorpe Connect members. As we started the new year, we were delighted to share the news that we have now reached 1,500 members. It is great to have you all in the Princethorpe Foundation alumni family.

The Foundation is keen to engage with all former pupils, parents and staff and is delighted to be building a thriving alumni community. Princethorpe Connect offers all our alumni a one stop shop for alumni news and events, the ability to reach out to old friends and former colleagues across the Foundation schools, to opportunity to link up with mentors, as well as hosting our online shop.

Please do encourage all those you know to register on Princethorpe Connect. They can do this easily themselves by going online to connect.princethorpe.co.uk.


OP Tom Tombleson Returned To His Former School

Strength and conditioning coach, and Old Princethorpian, Tom Tombleson, returned to his old school, Princethorpe College, on Monday 18 December.

Tom left the College back in 2001 and after studying Sport Science and Management at Loughborough University pursued a career advising and coaching professional sports players. He played Rugby at a high level including representing England in Rugby Sevens. He has worked with a number of international rugby players and is currently the strength and conditioning coach for the England Rugby national team.

As well as enjoying a tour of his old school, Tom spoke to talented sports players from Years 8 to the Sixth Form, talking about the fitness and endurance required to successfully compete. He answered pupils’ questions with generosity and candour helping them to understand the preparation, practise, determination and resilience required to be successful in their chosen sport.

Our thanks go to Tom for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the College and for generously sharing his expertise with pupils and staff. We were delighted to welcome him back to school and hope he enjoyed revisiting his old haunts. We are always grateful for the support of our Old Princethorpian community, they are such great role models for our current pupils, inspiring and encouraging them to follow their dreams.

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OPs Are Now On Instagram

The Old Princethorpians have had an active Facebook page for many years and it has a proved a useful tool for helping our alumni stay in touch with each other and their former school.

Recognising that our younger OPs use other social media, back in the Michaelmas Term we launched an @oldprincethorpians Instagram account.

The College also has an active Linked In page, do please connect with us to stay in touch.


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!

Our new Zaini hats and headbands are now back in stock and we still have a few copies of our 2024 calendars. 

Other 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, published on 1 September 2016 - now reduced to £10 + 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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College News

Staff And OPs Take On Warwick Half Marathon For Mary's Meals

Staff and OPs will be pounding the pavements and paths on Sunday to raise money for Mary’s Meals. Gil Cowlishaw, Clare White and Tom Walton will be joined by OP Rod Isaacs as they take on the challenge of the Warwick Half Marathon.

The hardy runners are fundraising for a charity close to Princethorpe's heart, Mary's Meals, and specifically the project to feed the 600 pupils of Makalanga Primary School, near Blantyre in Malawi.

Keen to get in shape for the challenge, Rod, Clare and Gil have already run a half marathon (13.1 miles) on each of the previous four weekends in January making it four and one for good luck.

If you would like to show your support for their intrepid efforts please visit JustGiving here.

Solar Panels Commissioned At Princethorpe College

The College took another step forward in its drive for sustainability last October when the solar photo voltaic panels on the new Science Centre and Sports Hall were commissioned.

As part of the project to construct the Science Centre, 44 solar panels were installed on the roof of the Sports Hall to support Princethorpe’s move towards net zero. The new rooftop solar array is now generating clean energy for the school to use. The expansive flat pitch of the roof making it the perfect location for the panels to catch the sun’s light as it moves across the sky.

On a good day, the panels will generate as much as 27kW of electricity, which will be offset against the school’s electricity consumption. When the panels generate more than the school needs, for example during weekends and holidays, the excess will be fed back into the National Grid. Even on the dreary grey days the panels generate 1.3kW to contribute to the school’s daily demands for power.

It’s another major improvement to the College’s infrastructure and one that has the capacity to grow further as there is plenty more roof space available.

In addition to the solar panels, the school is installing a display monitor in the Science Centre foyer. It will show the energy performance of the building, including the amount of electricity being produced by the panels, and will be an excellent resource to engage the whole school in the discussion about the advantages of clean energy and how we achieve a stable climate and healthy planet together.

Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes, who leads the College’s Environmental Sustainability Board, said, “It's a really positive step forward, as we take on the challenge of moving towards ‘net zero’.”

Latest Edition Of The Tower Is Now Available

The latest edition of the College’s magazine, The Tower Review, was published in December.

It tells the story of the last school year, term by term, reflecting on a whole host of activities, achievements and successes that pupils from Year 7 through to Upper Sixth took part in. It includes highlights such as Prize Giving and the College production as well as reviews of sporting events and House competitions.

2022/23 was an incredible year filled full of wonderful and memorable moments to reflect on. We hope that our annual souvenir review will be treasured by pupils and parents alike.

The magazine was mailed to the Leavers of 2023 and you can also find a copy on the school website here: https://www.theprincethorpefoundation.co.uk/publications

If you would like to receive a printed copy, please email marketing@princethorpe.co.uk with your name and address.

Train To Teach At Princethorpe

Thinking of becoming a teacher? Then why not consider training at Princethorpe College.
Whether you are a new graduate or contemplating a career change, we have opportunities available across the subjects but particularly for those with a degree relating to STEAM.

Through our association with the Lion Alliance, we offer a year’s training as part of the School Led Route, leading to Qualified Teacher Status. Placements would be at Princethorpe and also at other schools within the Lion Alliance. Our training via the Lion Alliance is supported by Warwick University. In addition, Princethorpe College also has strong links with Birmingham City University and Coventry University through offering placements to their trainees.

Teacher training at Princethorpe is a successful part of the school and we are now in our fifth year. Bursaries from the government of between £7,000 and £28,000 are available to support those training in Chemistry, Computing, Mathematics, Languages, Geography, Biology and Design Technology.

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 her at lizpyne@princethorpe.co.uk.

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

Information about Getting into Teaching and possible bursaries can be found here: getintoteaching.education.gov.uk

Cedar Of Lebanon Tree

One sad victim of the fierce winter storms in thes Christmas holidays was the Cedar of Lebanon tree that stands on the North Lawn. The tree lost a major branch, clearly torn off by the wild winter gales. Now some 150 years old, the tree will be familiar to all Princethorpians having provided welcome shade for many pupils over the years.

Thankfully, elsewhere on campus the damage was minimal, limited to minor branches and leaf debris and an awful lot of water flowing off the fields into the streams and drains.

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Snowdrops Spotted

Snow drops have been spotted around the College campus which is a sure sign that spring is on its way. These uplifting early spring flowers are already in full bloom in the Quad and along the lane to Gardener’s Cottage.

The delicate white petals of the snowdrop (galanthus nivalis) always bring joy when they emerge, and are a welcome sight for us all as we plough on through the windy and wet winter weather.

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Sister Boniface News

Back in the summer the BBC filmed a Sister Boniface Christmas special here at Princethorpe College and it aired on UKTV’s Drama channel just before Christmas, on Tuesday 19 December. Titled The Star of the Orient the episode was set in the grips of the worst winter on record - what came to be known as 'The Big Freeze'.

We understand that Series 3 is to air in the spring again featuring many locations that the eagle eyed amongst you might recognise.

UKTV’s Drama channel can be found on Freeview, YouView, TalkTalk and BT, and on Freesat on channel.

When we know more we will share details on social media.


Train To Teach MFL, Maths Or Physics

Do you have aspirations to train to become a Modern Languages, Maths or Physics teacher? Or do you know someone who does?

We are working in collaboration with Oundle School on two National SCITT Teacher Training programmes and both their National Modern Languages SCITT and National Maths and Physics SCITT have places available for September 2024 and 2025.

Contact Clare Douglas (cdouglas@oundleschool.org.uk) for more details or follow the links to the programmes below.



Development News

Caroline Spencer Appointed As Alumni And Development Officer

We are excited to announce that Caroline Spencer will be joining our team in the new role of Alumni and Development Officer at the beginning of April.

Caroline comes to us with a rich background in education, having excelled in roles that emphasise her strong interpersonal skills and her natural flair for building meaningful relationships. With her experience as a Teacher of Drama, PSHE Coordinator, and her involvement in various community and volunteer projects, Caroline is perfectly positioned to enhance our alumni relations and contribute significantly to our development goals.

Caroline's approach aligns with our Foundation's ethos of fostering a spirit of family and community. We eagerly anticipate her contributions and the positive impact she will bring to our alumni network and the broader community.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Caroline Spencer to our team!

Support 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.

Foundation News

Message from the Foundation Principal

One of my key aims over the past year since changing my role from Head of Princethorpe College to Foundation Principal, was to produce and publish a Strategic Plan for the Foundation. 

This has recently been shared with trustees, staff, current Foundation parents and the OPs Committee, but I would also like to share it with alumni and the wider Princethorpe community.

I have tried to make it succinct but with sufficient detail to give a real understanding of our aims and ambitions as we move forward over the years ahead.

Click here to view the Foundation Strategic Plan.

I have two requests: firstly, that you read it and secondly that if you have any feedback, questions or ideas you would like to share, please do so using this online form. I will personally read all the feedback and will reply directly if you leave your contact details.

With the OPs Committee we will be reviewing our alumni activities using the same approach and OPs are invited to help us identify the key 'pillars' at a workshop in April. See Alumni News for more on this and to get involved email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk or call 01926 634284. 

Very best wishes for the year ahead.

E D Hester

Gemma Cullinane Joins The Foundation As Commercial Enterprises Manager

Gemma Cullinane has joined the Foundation as our new Commercial Enterprises Manager.

Following 16 years in the hospitality industry, Gemma has spent the past two years within education in commercial and business development roles. She brings to us vast experience in events management, revenue analysis and generation plus business development.

Her spare time is often spent with her two daughters and husband. They are an active family, and enjoy travelling, sport (in particular Rugby), music and food.

Gemma is keen to create a dynamic Commercial Department at Princethorpe. There are lots of ideas and plans for the future with fantastic opportunities and potential. Right now, she is busy doing analysis and research to get the building blocks right. Her plan is to develop a Commercial Department that strives for excellence, upholding quality and fostering sustainable growth, while embracing the core ethos of the Foundation.

Prinethorpe Welcomes New Archivist Jo Wong

Jo Wong has joined the Foundation as our new Archivist.

She gained a Masters in Archives and Records Management in 2005, and then worked as an archivist at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust from 2005 to 2010. Her prior archives experience also includes working at the BP Archive based at Warwick University and on a digitisation project focusing on the Industrial Revolution in Birmingham, as well as voluntary work at Warwickshire County Record Office, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.

While bringing up her young family Jo retrained and set up her own business teaching parent and baby classes and combined this with working in schools over a number of years. Most recently she has been working in the higher education and charity sectors on projects including an online directory of UK biobanks and a mental health resource website.

Jo is passionate about increasing the awareness of and access to archives and is very much looking forward to helping the whole Princethorpe Foundation community engage with its wonderful heritage. She is always happy to be contacted with any queries about the archive collections and the history of the Foundation schools, and also looks forward to hearing from members of the community who have records or memories of their time at the schools that they may wish to share.

Jo can be contacted at joannawong@princethorpe.co.uk.

Bilton Silver Band's Christmas Concert

Crescent School’s young brass players performed alongside former Crescent pupils at the Bilton Silver Evolution Band’s Christmas Classics concert in December. The performance took place at St Peter’s and St John’s in Rugby and was a fabulously festive affair. Both Brass Group and Mini Brass performed, delighting all with their renditions.

Playing at the evening event were Year 5 pupils Alex B and Edward M who have just been selected for the National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain. Alex and Edward are following in the footsteps of Old Crescentians, Alyssa Barnett, Charlotte Corbin and Henry Corbin who all successfully auditioned for the National Children’s Band when they were pupils at our school. Charlotte and Henry both now attend Princethorpe College.

We couldn’t resist taking a photo of the five talented brass players together with the amazing Di Fisher who will be familiar to many Old Crescentians. Over the years Di has inspired so many young pupils to pick up and play a brass instrument.


Foundation Vacancies

Looking for a new role? The Princethorpe Foundation often has vacancies which we advertise on our website and on social media.

Our latest job opportunities include:

➡️ Learning Support Assistant - Little Crackers
➡️ Digital Transformation Leader – Princethorpe Foundation
➡️ IT Engineer – Princethorpe Foundation
➡️ Payroll Officer – Princethorpe Foundation
➡️ Sixth Form Administrator – Princethorpe College

There are various closing dates please visit our Join Us pages to find out more and to apply. 


OP Calendar Of Events

Our OPs' events calendar has details of all our events for the 2023 - 2024 academic year.

This year's calendar features all our regular favourites including the upcoming our annual spring meet which returns to Leamington this time at The Fox and Vivian on Friday 8 March and the annual Summer Supper Reunion takes place at the College on Friday 28 June, celebrating the leavers of 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004 and 2014, although leavers of other years are also most welcome.

Don't forget our Bluebells and Brunch, the perfect opportunity to walk round the iconic Mile Walk after enjoying a tasty spread.

All OPs, past parents and staff are welcome to participate in any or all of the events. Visit Princethorpe Connect, our online alumni community, to register and book on events.

Farming Networking Supper

Friday 23 February 2024 - 6:45pm to 10:00pm

Join us for a night of good food, great company, and valuable insights into the future of farming.

Hear from two speakers:

  • Jennie Wheildon: Unlock New Funding Opportunities and Plan for the Next Generation in Farming.
  • John Price (OP 2014): My Journey into Farming and prospects for the future of farming

Don't miss this opportunity to connect with fellow farmers, enjoy delicious food and drinks, and gain valuable knowledge for the future of your farm.

Secure your spot here by Friday 16 February 2024.

OPs Local Leamington Meet

Friday 8 March 2024 - 6.00pm to 10.30pm 

This year's OPs Local Meet takes place on Friday 8 March 2024 at the Fox and Vivian, 32 Claredon Avenue, Leamington, CV32 4RZ.  

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 on Princethorpe Connect, so we can cater for you.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Crackley Hall School And Little Crackers Nursery Open Morning

Saturday 9 March - 10.30am to 12.30pm

Crackley Hall School and Little Crackers Nursery, are holding an Open Morning on Saturday 9 March. Come and find out why Crackley Hall School has been judged 'Excellent' in all areas by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. It's a great opportunity for prospective families considering Crackley Hall School to come and have a look around and get a feel for the school. There will also be opportunities to speak to pupils, key members of staff and to meet Mr Duigan, Headmaster.

To find out more and to book your visit to Crackley Hall visit our website here.

There are a number of opportunities to visit the school during the course of the year. We encourage prospective parents and pupils to visit us both formally and informally to get a true flavour of the school.

Most of our pupils enter at Nursery and Reception, though pupils are welcome at any age, dependent on a place being available.

Applications for places in the current Reception to Junior 6 are treated on an individual basis as places are limited. In years where there is no place available we operate waiting groups. 

Little Crackers Nursery are now accepting registrations for September 2024 onwards. If your child is turning two, get in touch and come and take a look around our Nursery or come along to our friendly Stay 'n' Play Toddler Group on Wednesday mornings in term time. 

Crescent School Open Morning

Saturday 16 March - 10.00am to 12.00pm

Crescent School, Princethorpe's junior school in Bilton, Rugby, will hold an Open Morning on Saturday 16 March. Come and find out why Crescent School has been judged 'Excellent' in all areas by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. It's a great opportunity for prospective families considering Crescent School to come and have a look around and get a feel for the school. There will also be opportunities to speak to pupils, key members of staff and to meet Mr Thackway, Headmaster.

To find out more and to book your visit to Crescent School visit our website here.

There are a number of opportunities to visit the school during the course of the year. We encourage prospective parents and pupils to visit us both formally and informally to get a true flavour of the school.

Most of our pupils enter at Reception and at Year 3, though pupils are welcome at any age, dependent on a place being available. The school is proving popular so parents are being encouraged to apply early for places in Reception. 

Applications for places in the current Reception to Year 6 are treated on an individual basis. We are currently operating waiting groups in most year groups. Please get in touch with our Registrar, Mrs Helen Morley, regarding our availability for September 2024. 

We are now taking registrations for September 2025 entry to Reception and Year 3. 

St Joseph's Day Mass

Tuesday 19 March 2024 - 2.00pm to 4.00pm

To mark St Joseph's Day on Tuesday 19 March, Crackley Hall School is holding a St Joseph’s Day Mass.

We cordially invite all former St Joseph's and Crackley Hall pupils and former staff to join us. The Mass will take place from 2.00pm to 3.00pm and afterwards there will be light refreshments for visitors and an opportunity to tour the school.

All are most welcome so please do sign up for the event on Princethorpe Connect here.

More information will be shared with all those registered before the event takes place.


Princethorpe College - Arts Society Winter Programme - Gustave Caillebotte

Tuesday 19 March 2024 - 7.30pm to 10.00pm

Mrs Margaret-Louise O'Keeffe, former Deputy Head - Pastoral at the College, is delighted to join us once again to delve into the life of Gustave Caillebotte: Impressionism’s Mystery Man.

Who knows Caillebotte? Where does he come from? In what school was he trained? No one has been able to tell me. All I know is that Caillebotte is one of the most original painters to have come forward in some time, and I am not afraid I shall compromise myself by predicting that he will be famous before long.

So wrote the critic, Marius Chaumelin, after first seeing Caillebotte’s striking works in the Impressionist Exhibition of 1876. The prediction was correct for Caillebotte did become famous, not just as an artist but as an indispensable organiser, financier and publicist of other Impressionist Exhibitions and then also as a  patron and collector. As a wealthy man who never needed to work thanks to his family’s fortune, Caillebotte kept most his paintings or donated them to friends and, ironically, this led to a long period of neglect when his dramatic cityscapes, portraits, still-lifes and landscapes were not on public view.

The dramatic purchase by the Art Institute of Chicago of his sensational Paris Street: Rainy Day in 1964 changed everything and led to a revaluation of his work. Before then, he was best known for the ultra-generous donation to the French state of major Impressionist works he had purchased, a donation which required his executors to negotiate patiently to persuade some intransigent officials to accept them.

This talk will illustrate the intriguing oeuvre of this unusual character, so aware of his own mortality, who died aged 45 in 1894.

Click here to book your place.

Easter Services

Fr Teddy O'Brien MSC invites the Princethorpe Community to the Easter services at either St Anne's, Wappenbury or the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels, Princethorpe College.

Sunday 24 March    
Palm Sunday Mass               8.30am St Anne's, Wappenbury
                                         10.30am Princethorpe College

Thursday 28 March              
Maunday Thursday Mass      7.00pm Princethorpe College

Friday 29 March                
Good Friday Service             3.00pm Princethorpe College

Sunday 31 March - Easter Sunday           
First Mass of Easter              8.30am St Anne's, Wappenbury
Mass of the Day                   10.30am Princethorpe College

If you would like further information about St Anne's, Wappenbury please use the link here.

Fr Teddy looks forward to meeting you all.

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Princethorpe College Open Morning

Thursday 18 April 2024 - 10.30am - 12.30pm 

Starting to consider secondary school options for September 2025?

The College's Open Morning gives prospective families a chance to visit the school on a normal working day, with Year 8 and 9 pupils acting as tour guides. Observe a variety of lessons and see our brand-new state-of-the-art Science labs in action. Light refreshments will be available.

Click here to book your place: https://www.princethorpe.co.uk/open-morning

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




OPs Bluebells And Brunch

Saturday 11 May 2024 - 10.30am to 12.30pm

We are once again offering OPs, former parents and former staff the opportunity to visit the College and catch up over a full English or a croissant or two. As well enjoying a leisurely complimentary brunch (served until 12.00 noon) visitors will be able to wander around the Mile Walk and admire the bluebells, 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 by Friday 2 May 2024.

Please do spread the word!



Princethorpe Wigley Group National Schools And Riding Clubs Two Day Event

Saturday 25 May – Sunday 26 May 2024

The National Schools’ and Riding Clubs' Two Day Event will once again take place on the Princethorpe estate.

It includes classes at 70cm, 80cm, 90cm and 100cm for Riding Club and School team and individual competitors. There are also Independent Schools' Association Classes.

Show Jumping and Dressage take place on the Saturday with Roads and Tracks, Steeplechase and Cross Country on the Sunday. 

For more information and to enter please visit www.stoneleighridingclub.com

The only event of its kind in the UK, the two-day event regularly attracts up to 300 riders.

Spectators are most welcome to come along and enjoy a wonderful weekend of equestrian competition.

Princethorpe College Summer Art, Photography, Design and Textiles Show 2024

Thursday 27 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm and Sunday 30 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 Sports Hall on Thursday 27 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm and on Sunday 30 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.

OPs Summer Supper Reunion - Calling The Leavers Of 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004 And 2014

Friday 28 June 2024 - 6.00pm optional tour, 7.00pm drinks reception, 7.45pm supper

OPs who left the College in 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004 and 2014 (or those who were in the same year groups) are cordially invited back to the OPs annual Summer Supper on Friday 28 June to celebrate their respective 50th, 40th, 30th, 20th and 10th anniversaries of leaving. Leavers of other year groups are also most welcome. 

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We know many OPs are keener to come to these events if they can be sure of seeing some familiar faces.  By focusing on year groups ending in a 4, 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 90 guests and we already have over 40 OPs booked onto the event, so if you would like to attend please go to Princethorpe Connect by Wednesday 18 June to reserve your place.

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PTA Summer Fête and Motoring Festival 2024

Sunday 30 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 30 June 2024.

This event takes place in the Orchard between 2.00pm and 4.30pm. There is lots of entertainment both for children and adults alike, which usually includes a large inflatable slide for the kids, BBQ, refreshments, bar, pupils’ stalls, over 30 external stalls, a raffle and many, many more exciting things for all the family to enjoy. All are welcome, £2 per car entry charge. 

You can register to attend on Princethorpe Connect

One of the highlights of the School Calendar is the Annual Motoring Festival. The Motoring Festival coincides with the Summer Fête and is open to anyone keen to bring any sort of classic, vintage, veteran or interesting vehicle along for the afternoon. There are rally plaques for all vehicles pre-booked by Saturday 1 June 2024 and there are awards for self-judged competitions. Please email alexdarkes@princethorpe.co.uk to be added to the Motoring Festival interest database. 


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St Mary's Priory Reunion 2023 - Save The Date

Saturday 7 September 2024

The College always enjoys hosting OP reunions and events and no more so than the reunions for the old girls of St Mary's Priory, who were at school here before Princethorpe College came into being. The ladies are now fondly referred to as Very Special Old Princethorpians or VSOPs. 

We are currently making plans for our next VSOP reunion when we will welcome the group back to the College again on Saturday 7 September 2024.

If you are interested in attending or know someone who would like to, please register on Princethorpe Connect.

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Old Princethorpian Interview

Corin Johnson

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

I live mainly in Camberwell, London but also spend quite a bit of time in Buckinghamshire. I work as an artist/sculptor specialising mainly working in stone, marble, clay and wood.

2. Age:


3. When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to?

I was at Princethorpe from approximately 1981 to 1989

4. What was the school like in your day?

The school was still run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the nuns back then. It was 99.9% a boys school - just a couple of girls. Quite multi racial - lots of people from Irish families and lots of students from Hong Kong. I found the school generally extremely friendly and the teachers and staff to be supportive. There was a good sprinkling of eccentrics. 

5. How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

I made quite a few life long friends at Princethorpe so that says a lot.

I think the community aspect of Princethorpe really helped me get on with lots of different types of people and playing rugby with the school helped me work as part of a team. I found the educational aspect really helpful - it was academic but not stiflingly so. I also had quite  a lot of fun. Also being surrounded by such beautiful architecture and grounds probably rubbed off on me - I work a lot now with architects, designers, artists and museums.

6. What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Work hard, play hard, enjoy your self, try not to get into bad habits - stay optimistic and try a bit of meditation.

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

I’ve had so many influences and teachers so that’s a really difficult one - but I’d probably say the arts and spiritual teachings.

8. What keeps you awake at night?

Worries about family or projects or watching late night films.

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

Probably being commissioned to do two statues on the front of Westminster Abbey, but also collaborating with other artists on work for the Tate and the Henry Moore Foundation. 

10. What’s your biggest indulgence?


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

Beef Bourguignon

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

In Sicily with my partner. 

13. Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

Father McManus, Sister Julian, Mr Rex, Mr Harwood - sports training with Mr Price and Mr Moroney - hanging out in the orchard - the Art room with Mr and Mrs Skiff - Mr Cooper singing me a Roy Harper song - all the various styles - the mods, 80s New Romantics - Rock a Billy’s - the plays - the Lime Walk - the dinner hall - Father O'Connor getting very passionate - cricket with Mr Harwood.

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

Quite a few - Dominic Gillespie, Dominic Shingleton, Antony Reynolds, Ian Rudolph, Ian Ingram, Becky and Tommy Hilditch, Sarah Grinel, Greg Deely, Rupert Godard and David Pryke. 

15. Is there anyone you would like to track down? Quite a few - including Richard Chapman and Jason Clarage.

Corin's incredible Portuguese pink marble sculpture of songwriter and musician Lawrence is being shown for the first time in the unique and meditative setting of the Fitzrovia Chapel, London,W1T 3BF until Friday 9 February 2024. 


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Births, Deaths & Marriages

Charlie Lovett Wedding Joy

Huge congratulations to Charlie Lovett (Class of 2017) who married his sweetheart Bethany Mallett on Saturday 11 October at Saint Martin's Church in Welton.

Commenting on the day proud mum and former Princethorpe SEND teacher, Meryl, said, "It was a testament to their extraordinary powers of organisation that the whole day went swimmingly. It was a small and intimate wedding, very them.

Meryl very much enjoyed the day and meeting up with the OPs who attended the wedding.

We wish Charlie and Bethany the happiest of futures together!

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Wedding Bells for Laura and Joe

Congratulation to Laura Fear, nee Newitt, Class of 2011, on her marriage to husband Joe.

The happy couple got married at Tortworth Court in Gloucester on Saturday 25 November. 

Laura is currently a doctor working in a central Bristol GP practice and Joe is in his final year of post graduate veterinary medicine.

Amongst the wedding guests were fellow OPs Ruth Guntrip-Hook and Anne-Marie Thomas.

We wish them both a very happy future together!

Engagement Excitement For Lizzie and Seb

Many congratulations to Lizzie Hester (Class of 2012) and her new fiance, Seb Benson on their recent engagement.

Lizzie picks up the story:

Seb and I met seven years ago through a mutual friend in London and have been together for the last five years.

Seb is an architect and is currently working for the Paris Olympics 2024. I have been teaching for the past five years; after some time teaching in London, I am back in the Midlands and currently covering a maternity position at Princethorpe.

We plan to get married in 2025 and it would be wonderful to have the wedding at Princethorpe!

Baby Emily Makes A Speedy Arrival

Congratulations to Helen McAleese (Class of 2008) and her fiance, Steve, on the safe arrival of their first child, a daughter.

Helen recounts the event:

Our beautiful daughter Emily made quite a speedy, dramatic arrival into the world on 5 October 2023, weighing a healthy 7lbs 4oz.

We are incredibly grateful to the Sapphire midwives and all the staff at Worcester Royal Hospital for looking after us so well. Emily is now nearly 4 months and is thriving, developing a very sassy little personality already! We are completely in love.

Her dad Steve and I must now get on with some wedding planning after also getting engaged in 2023 - it was a very busy year!

Second Daughter For Tom and Vicky Ellis

Vicky (nee Smith) and Tom Ellis (both Class of 2009) are delighted to announce the arrival of their second daughter, Ophelia Ellis on 11 October 2023 at 00:17. A lovely sister for Sadie.

Many congratulations to the whole family!!

Memory Bank

News From The Archives

Hello from the new Foundation Archivist!

It has been a busy few weeks in the archives since I started in post at the beginning of this term, and I have very much enjoyed learning more about the fascinating heritage of the Foundation’s schools, exploring some of the collections we hold, and most of all helping members of the Foundation community with their enquiries. I also spent a fair proportion of my first week getting lost - an experience which I’m sure many of you will remember from your first few days at Princethorpe!

A particular highlight from the past couple of weeks has been receiving these wonderful class photographs kindly sent in by Old Princethorpian Andrew Went, from his time at St Bede’s during the early/mid-1960s. Although we hold a small collection of photographs from St Bede’s here in the archives, these images were not among them and we are very grateful to Andrew for sharing them with us.

As many of you will know, St Bede’s was run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, who purchased St Mary’s Priory in 1966 in order to set up Princethorpe College. From September 1966 the majority of St Bede’s pupils moved up to Princethorpe College once they reached senior school age, so some of the faces in these photographs may well be familiar to those of you who attended Princethorpe in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Do you spot anyone you recognise (or perhaps even yourself) in the photos? Do you remember the name of the class teacher? We, and Andrew, would love to hear from you if you do, or if you have memories about St Bede’s or Princethorpe from that time which you would like to share. Please do get in touch at archives@princethorpe.co.uk with any details.

It is always a pleasure to be contacted by alumni who have any stories or records of their time at the Foundation schools that they would be happy to pass on to us. Or perhaps you have a question about your school days that we can help with; in either case, we would be delighted to hear from you at archives@princethorpe.co.uk.

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1974 Rooftop Antics Leave Long Lasting Mark On Princethorpe

Members of the Princethorpe Estates Team had a bit of a surprise when recently checking the College rooves on the main school building.

10 metres or so above the ground they came across what can only be described as 50 year-old graffiti daubed in bold white paint! It was very well hidden behind a chimney above the former Shower Block, which is now Art. 

The culprits, possibly not expecting their work ever to be discovered, had audaciously left all their names and the date of the transgression (1974).

The guilty gang of five, comprised Chris Marot, Ian Costello, Jim Burke, Jean Pierre Parsons and Anthony Cowland.

According to Jean Pierre, the act took place on a balmy evening at the end of June after A-levels when the bored Sixth Form boarders were waiting to be collected and a trip up to the roof with a paintbrush seemed like a good idea! 

The paint, was borrowed from the then caretaker's store, and was clearly very good quality as it has lasted so long.

Very sadly some of the group of former Sixth Formers are no longer with us, but the two rooftop artists we did manage to track down, Jean-Pierre and Tony, recognised the stupidity of their actions and were most contrite and apologetic.

Their and our advice is clearly never to go up on the rooves, as it is very dangerous!




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Princethorpe Binns Organ

The renowned Princethorpe Binns’ organ located in Our Lady of the Angels Chapel was purchased and installed in 1901. It was procured from and built by James J Binns, of the Bramley Organ Works, Leeds, and the original receipt shows it was purchased for £1,199-1s-3d. 

In the Foundation 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 construction and the delay in placing the organ. An extract from one of the letters says:

30 March 1901

...."it is all nonsense Binns saying the organ would be finished long ago if he had had 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!"

When originally constructed the organ was powered by water. A large water tank was situated in a room in the Tower, and this provided hydraulic pressure (by gravity) to bellows which pumped the organ. The water settled in a tank under the engine house (now a garage) and was pumped up to the top of the tower by a Lister-Petter donkey engine which ran on petrol or paraffin. The hydraulically powered bellows and the colossal water pipes and valves are still in place.

The console was moved from adjacent to the south transept to the gallery around 1908 to make way for a statue of St Peter which was gifted that year. The photo attached is dated 1905. You can also see the acetylene gas mantles in this picture. This statue was subsequently taken by the nuns to Fernham when they left St Mary's Priory in 1965.

A 3-phase electric blower was fitted by the British Organ Blowing Company from Derby in 1953, shortly after electricity was installed at the priory by Lee-Beesley of Coventry. Prior to this, the chapel and school building had been lit by acetylene gas which was made on site.

In a letter to the College dated 1975 from a partner at an organ builder who had been in to survey the organ, it was described as “A very fine example of its type. It is well voiced, generously planned and of excellent workmanship throughout.”

By 1983, when Hugh Page first encountered it, the organ was virtually unplayable as much of the action and leatherwork had perished and six stop slides were completely jammed. Between January and June 1984 Hugh re-leathered some five hundred pneumatic motors and re-set the jammed slides, necessitating the removal of some four hundred pipes. He cleaned all of the pipes and carried out considerable work to reduce wind leaks. Hugh always loved coming to Princethorpe and the organ truly became his pride and joy. For the remainder of his life, he visited at least once a week to keep it all in working order.

His dedication to Princethorpe’s Organ is recognised in the College’s annual Hugh Page Memorial Organ Recital which takes place each year in June.

The rank of tuba pipes added to the choir organ, with electric action, were installed in August 2017 by Peter Spencer, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The College repaired the Driving Motor and Fan Bearings at the cost of £3,200 in August 2023. This work was completed by Organ Blower and Humidifier Engineer, Stephen Lemmings of Derby.

The organ is registered on the National Pipe Organ Register here: https://npor.org.uk/survey/D03048 and the listing contains full details of the organ.

For the last twelve years the organ has been maintained by Bubbenhall organ builder Peter D Spencer.

Sadly, the organ bellows now need removing and releathering, having already been patched 20 years ago when wear and tear was evident through splits and leaks, and this will be a costly exercise.

Princethorpe’s historic organ constitutes an irreplaceable part of the College’s and the country’s national heritage, and we are keen for it to be preserved and restored. It has played its part in many services held in the Chapel and its sound will be immediately familiar to all Old Princethorpians.

We would be grateful for the support of the OP community with this important restoration project. If you would like to donate please visit here.

In the images:

The original position of the organ console is shown.

One of the original receipt for the purchase of the organ.


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Kenilworth's Least Known Landmark - Crackley Hall's Windmill

There was a Windmill located in what we now call Windmill Wood at the rear of Crackley Hall School. Footage of the site of the windmill was shared recently on the In Remembrance of St Joseph’s Convent School Facebook page by John Insley and we were fascinated to see how the wood had changed over the years.

John posted:“In 1935 a half full-size model of the smock-mill at Dyke, Lincolnshire, was built on the site of the old Crackley post-mill on the Common for the late Lord Kenilworth by Messrs. Hunts of Soham, Cambs. The director of operations was the late Mr. Rex Wailes, a pioneer of industrial archaeology and president of the Newcomen Society from 1953 to 1955. This large model remained there until it was demolished in 1964."

His post generated comments that provided further information including:

  • Sister Margaret Mary used to take Transition class on nature walks to visit the windmill in 1955.
  • It was demolished in 1964 when it became derelict and dangerous as John’s father used to find youngsters playing there.
  • The windmill was intact when pupils arrived at Crackley from Stoneleigh Abbey but the sails blew off shortly afterwards.
  • The building was then used variously as a tool shed and also to anchor the clothesline for the nuns washing!

There is information on the windmill and its site in a booklet called A History Of Kenilworth, it mentions that part of the carriageway running to the cottages had survived development work stating ‘a shallow cutting lined with trees which is buried deep in the undergrowth’ and it is this that can be seen in John’s video.

The booklet contains other information, it references Kenilworth’s least known landmark as Sir John Siddeley’s windmill. Sir John had discovered that the rising ground that forms one side of the common was known as Windmill Hill. Knowing this he decided to erect a windmill as near as possible to where the originally probably stood but having of course to build it in his grounds and not on the common. The windmill was constructed by a firm of Norfolk windmill builders one of the few left in the country in the early 1930s. The windmill was octagonal, made of oak and sat on a brick base. It was fully operational although there was no record or evidence that it had ever been put to use but the views from the top were outstanding.

All that remains now are slabs that the windmill once must have stood on.

The trees have matured over the years and the wooded area is now used for Forest School activities by pupils attending Crackley Hall School and is much enjoyed by them all.

Members of the In Remembrance of St Joseph’s Facebook Group can view John’s video here.

The Brick Relief At Crescent School

The recently updated A History Of Crescent School second edition makes mention of the brick relief on the wall of the school. Often reputed to be a depiction of youth and possibly even Pan with his pipes, it has long been a mystery for those who now work at the school, particularly as the school was originally constructed for a Christian institution namely St Mark’s School.

The new history booklet asked for anyone with any knowledge to get in touch and we were delighted to receive information on the sculpture just last week. Many thanks to John Reeve, who amongst other roles was once a teacher with responsibility for Art, Craft and Design Education at St Mark’s School.

John told us that the relief sculpture was by Walter Ritchie and that he had, in a very short period of time and thanks to many contributors, also discovered that Walter Ritchie created pieces for two other Rugby schools, namely Abbots Farm Infants and Rokeby Infants.

Walter Ritchie was born in Coventry in 1919. He was a competent sculptor by the age of 18 having been trained by local stone masons and he was then lucky enough to become an apprentice of Eric Gill, a famous English sculptor who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement.

Ritchie worked in wood, marble, steel, stone, in fact anything except fibre-glass but his particularly love was the 1,500 varieties of brick made in Britain at that time that allowed him to explore the world of texture and colour.

The work on the wall at Crescent School is referenced as a relief sculpture in brick, constructed in 1952 and titled Boy With Horses.

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Missing & Found

Ali Hafeez Azmat

Ali contacted us in January asking for help in locating his former classmates.

He told us that he boarded at Princethorpe from 1989-1990 when he was in the Lower Sixth. Father Sweeney was the Headmaster at the time and that he recalls the names Steve and Nick.

We have sent him links to the digital versions of the College Magazine from the period.

Although that isn't a lot to go on, if you do remember Ali at all and can share any information then do please let us know. Email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.


OP Updates

Dan Lane Extols The Benefits Of Taking A Career Break

After completing my A-levels at Princethorpe in 2013 I returned as a Resident Teaching Assistant for a year, after which I spent four years in Exeter studying towards undergraduate and master’s degrees in economics and - in the eyes of my lecturers - probably playing too much Golf.

I was fortunate to secure a Chartered Accountancy training contract with Deloitte LLP on graduation but after three and a half years which included fifteen exams, I decided that there had to be a bit more to life than staring at Excel all day! I left my job in February 2022 to pursue a six-month career break caddying at Kingsbarns Golf Links, just outside of St Andrews in Scotland. For those of you that don’t know, caddying is basically carrying a golfer’s clubs whilst they play their round but actually it’s four hours to get to know someone new, talk about anything and everything and get paid at the end of it! After a couple of months, I was offered a job caddying in New Zealand during the Southern Hemisphere summer and, recalling my days in the office, I decided it sounded like a pretty good idea to extend the break!

I moved to Mangawhai, a beach town just over an hour north of Auckland in October 2022 and spent six months caddying at Tara Iti Golf Club, rated as the second-best golf course in the world outside of the USA. Whilst there my working days were four hours in the sub-tropical summer (aside from two blips with a cyclone and an earthquake) where I was able to meet some amazing people and enjoy a lot of free time on the beach, playing golf and drinking coffee. During my travels I had the chance to caddie for a number of high-profile individuals, including George Roberts (owner of KKR), Jim Donald (former Starbucks CEO), Zac Crawley (England Cricketer) and my longest serving boss, Ric Kayne (owner of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors and Tara Iti Golf Club) who gave me the opportunity to travel to the South Island to caddie for him at the New Zealand Open. I had a great time and was extremely lucky to meet many other interesting and influential people as well as making friends from all over the world.

On returning to the UK I spent another summer in Scotland before eventually settling back into ‘working’ life, living in Warwickshire and working at a growing mid-tier practice, Cooper Parry, within their Mergers and Acquisitions Advisory team, based in Birmingham.  

On the 07:23 in the morning I do think back and it all feels like a bit of a dream, but for 18 months that’s exactly what I got to live. I would recommend for anyone who has the chance to take a career break to go for it, you never know where it might take you…

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Sean Bostrom Enjoys Moment Of Motorcycle Fame

OP (1982 -1987) and former Princethorpe parent, Sean Bostrom is now living on the Isle of Man and recently had a brush with motorcycle fame when featured in Motorcycle Sports and Leisure Magazine. Sean takes up the story:

Despite joining West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service over 25 years ago, followed shortly by a transfer to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue, before a final move to the Isle of Man, my other ambition in the ‘90s was to enter the world of motorcycle journalism.

This year, I finally got my chance to fulfil that dream, at least for a couple of days...
Thanks to taking part in various motorcycle sports, on and off tarmac, and living on the Isle of Man I have been fortunate enough to have made friends in the industry. One such contact is marketing manager and editor at Mortons Media who publish Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, Fast Bikes, Scootering and Classic Bike amongst many other titles cover all manner of topics.

Charlie, let’s call him that, invited me to take part in a magazine feature last year based around comparing different types of off-road bikes being ridden on the trails of the island which link up with spectators spots of the TT Course. If you’re not familiar with this, it is the longest running motorsport event in the world (since 1907) and it takes part on thirty seven and three quarter miles of the island’s public roads.

The roads are, naturally, closed for practice and racing so once you’re in a good spot to spectate you often have to remain until the roads reopen at the end of the session. That is, in some cases unless you have an off-road bike, mountain bike or quad.

The part I played in the feature as you’ll see from the attached YouTube video as well as in the magazine was that of ‘local expert and fixer’.

In fairness, one of the other journalists, we’ll call him Dave, was pretty familiar with the island as he grew up here and they’d all done their homework well.

I have to say it was a dream come true to play out my biking fantasies for a couple of days, pretending to be a Top Gear presenter as well riding some snazzy new bikes.

If any OPs fancy visiting sometime, do get in touch and I’ll show you around.
As it happens I also do a bit of tour guiding with island visitors all year round but I won’t charge fellow old staff or pupils!

 Watch Sean on You Tube here.


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Pilots Discover They Are Both OPs

En route to Nigeria, British Airways pilots, Captain Ric Hill and Senior First Officer James Tribe discovered they had a lot more in common than they first thought. It was last November when their meet up took place, when Ric and James were the crew for a British Airways Boeing 777 flight to Abuja. It was James’ first flight on the 777 aircraft after moving over from the Airbus fleet.

While chatting during the flight, the pilots realised that they had both attended Princethorpe College (Ric left back in 1984 while James was from the Class of 2013).

James has been a pilot for seven years now, having started with easyJet before joining British Airways in 2018 on their short haul aircraft the A320. He had always hoped to fly long haul and had just completed two months of intensive training. The last stage being flying alongside a Training Captain, in this case Training Captain Ric Hill.

It was a remarkable coincidence and the pilots very much enjoyed swapping stories and anecdotes while on their trip, as both had fond memories of their time at the school.

James said, “It was a hugely enjoyable first trip. Having being part of Fisher House and with Ric an ex-House Captain for Benet, it’s fair to say the rivalry lived on but it didn’t manage to affect the operation.” With Ric adding, “James did a wonderful job.”

And how fantastic was it for us to find out that Princethorpe was a hot topic of conversation at 35,000 feet. We always love hearing news of our alumni so do get in touch if you have your own OP reunion story to share.

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Class of 1975 Reunion

It was really good to hear from Martin Holland (Class of 1975) back in October.

He takes up the story:

A group of us and our partners, from the leaving year of 1975 got together in London on Friday 6 October.

Pre-dinner drinks were hosted by Dominic and Paulo Flynn at their house in Parsons Green. We all then went for dinner at Aragon House. It was an excellent evening enjoyed by all.

The group has been getting together annually for 14 years, prompted after several of us went to Father Clarkson's memorial service at Princethorpe.

Those attending were Dominic and Paulo Flynn, Mark and Sue Neal, Chris and Karen Evans (residents of Barbados) Martin and Lisa Holland, Kevin Marchant (resident of Toronto) Rabi Demelo and "PJ" McCormack.

Guy Takes On A Challenge Of A Lifetime

OP and current parent, Guy Minshull is taking on a challenge of a lifetime involving a 3,000 mile charity row across the Atlantic to raise money for two charities, Meningitis Now and Get A-Head. He and his teammates set off on Wednesday 3 January to row from Lanzarote to Antigua. Their adventure should take about 50 days and their aim is to raise £250,000.

The team is progressing well and this week passed the halfway point in their row and with the trade winds kicking in - things are going the right way. 

Everyone here at Princethorpe is willing Guy and the team on.

You can find out more about Guy’s charity row and support the Brightsides here or follow them on facebook here.


OP Tom Ashley Launches Children's Cancer Awards

Old Princethorpian, Tom Ashley, who was diagnosed with cancer twice as a teenager, has been chosen to launch a national awards scheme for children and young people.

Tom has thrown his support behind Cancer Research UK's Stars Awards, which recognises the courage of children and young people who have faced cancer.

Now 24 and fully on the road to recovery, Tom has opened up about his post treatment mental health struggles because he wants to inspire others to keep going when all hope is lost.

It's why he’s thrown his support behind the Cancer Research UK Stars Awards, which recognises the courage of children and young people who have faced the challenge of cancer.

Every child nominated receives the accolade, because the charity believes that every child diagnosed with cancer deserves special recognition. The awards are open to all children under 18 who live in the UK and have been treated for the disease within the past five years.

Tom said: “The Star Awards are special. To know there are people out there who do care – you start to understand that it’s a lot more than just an award. There are people backing you who will be in your corner no matter what.”

After recovering twice, Tom began to have survivor guilt and his mental health spiralled. He realised he had to do something to help himself and started to write things down and he now records his experiences, thoughts and feelings in a blog as well as on Instagram and YouTube in the hope he can help and inspire other people struggling with mental health issues.

Everyone here at Princethorpe is hugely proud of Tom who is an inspiration to us all. He has faced serious challenges and we were delighted to hear that he is doing well. We all applaud his positive approach to managing his mental health and his support of Cancer Research's new Star Awards.

OPs Proud To Be Involved With New Hong Kong Catholic University

OPs Alan Young and Vitus Leung are very proud to have been involved in the creation of a new Catholic University in Hong Kong.

Alan Young (1978 - 1981) joined Caritas in 1984, taught at the College and was an advisor to the IT advisory committee of the College before it became the St Francis University. Vitus Leung (1979 - 1982) has been a board member of the College and involved in the government interview process for the College to become the university. 

Alan Young takes up the story:

I am excited to share some wonderful news about my long-term workplace, Caritas Hong Kong, and its affiliated institution, the Caritas Institute of Higher Education (CIHE). As a former teacher, school principal, and now Head of IT, I am proud to announce that the CIHE has achieved a significant milestone.

Following approval by the Chief Executive-in-Council on January 9, the CIHE has been granted a university title and will now be known as "Saint Francis University" and "聖方濟各大學" in English and Chinese, respectively. This recognition is a testament to the government's commitment to fostering the growth and parallel development of publicly funded and self-financing post-secondary education sectors in Hong Kong.

The university title not only signifies a major accomplishment for the CIHE but also highlights the government's dedication to providing young people in Hong Kong with quality, flexible, and diverse study pathways. The self-financing post-secondary education sector plays a vital role in nurturing talent to meet Hong Kong's evolving manpower needs and establishing itself as an international hub for post-secondary education.

The CIHE is the fourth self-financing post-secondary education institution to be granted a university title. This decision was made after careful consideration of various factors, including program breadth, research capability, size and scale, governance and management, financial sustainability, academic environment, and quality assurance. In 2022, the CIHE underwent an Institutional Review conducted by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ), which affirmed that the institution met the standards expected of a private university.

Established in 1985 as the Caritas Francis Hsu College, the CIHE gained approval to operate sub-degree programs in 2001 and was accredited to offer degree-level programs in 2010. It subsequently changed its name to the CIHE in 2011. Today, the CIHE offers 13 self-financing locally accredited post-secondary programs, including 12 bachelor's degree programs and one master's degree program. With approximately 3,000 full-time and 500 part-time students, the CIHE continues to expand its educational offerings.

As a dedicated member of the Caritas Hong Kong community since 1984, I am thrilled to witness this significant transformation. The CIHE, now known as Saint Francis University, has embraced its new identity and is poised to continue delivering outstanding education while contributing to the development of Hong Kong's educational landscape.

Vitus, member of the Board of Governors of CIHE, commented on the last stages of the process, when he attended an interview, with His Eminence Cardinal Stephen Chow, Prof Rossie Young, Dr Denis Chang SC, et al. by a panel of over 10 university deans and vice-presidents from Hong Kong and other countries, that being the final stage of assessment by the Education Bureau.

"The panel had raised many questions before the interview and went into much detail. There was nervous moment shortly before going into the interview room. Cardinal Stephen calmed us down by saying, God would lead us; that brought the whole team peace of mind before the interview."

We congratulate Alan, Vitus and the whole team on this fantastic achivement.


Molly Geehan Loves Working For England Netball

Old Princethorpian, Molly Geehan (Class of 2019) has been working for England Netball for a year now as their Digital Assistant and she is loving every minute of her interesting and varied role.

Molly has just finished covering the Vitality Netball Nations Cup that was held at Wembley Arena and the First Direct Arena in Leeds. She reported news of England's matches on their social media channels as well as creating behind the scenes content.

Next up on her agenda will be the start of the Netball Super League which gets underway in February. Molly runs the social media channels for the League and all 10 teams will be at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Saturday 17 February to start the season.

It is clear that ex-Princethorpe Netballer and Games Captain Molly is really living the dream.

It was fantastic to hear from you Molly and we will be keping our eyes open to see if we can spot you on TV.



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Georgie Gets Dissertation Help From The Princethorpe Community

Back in January we were delighted to help Georgie Glasspool (Class of 2019) with her dissertation, by asking the Princethorpe community to complete her dissertation survey.

Georgie is in her final year at Nottingham Trent studying Product Design. Her dissertation is on Heritage Crafts and she has been researching whether they can be learnt properly online rather than more traditional in-person methods.

Georgie was delighted with the response, commenting, "Thank you so much for posting my survey, I got a great amount of responses for my dissertation! It’s fantastic that help like this is available through the OP Association."

We wish Georgie all the best with her dissertation and final year. If anyone else needs similar help, please do get in touch!!

Flora To Run The London Marathon

A huge good luck to Flora Courtney, Class of 2016, who will be running the London Marathon, this April. Flora tells us more:

On Sunday 21st April 2024 I will be running the London Marathon for Carers Trust. A charity that seeks to improve the support and services available for anyone living with the challenges of unpaid caring for a family member or friend.

I left Princethorpe in 2016 and moved to Sheffield for university, where I studied a BA Hons in Criminology followed by an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice Practice. I am currently still living in Sheffield and working for The Rank Group as an Analyst.

Throughout school I was a keen runner and it is something I have continued and still enjoy, despite the steep hills in Sheffield! I have completed a few half marathons in the past, but a marathon is something I have always wanted to do. Running 26.2 miles is a daunting task, but I am excited to take on this challenge for such an amazing cause.

Any donations would be greatly appreciated.