Welcome to the Old Princethorpian newsletter, the Princethorpe 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.

We have a number of exciting events coming up including our annual Old Princethorpian Summer Supper Reunion and the annual PTA Summer Fair and Motoring Festival.

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


Alumni News

Ideas Galore Generated At Alumni Workshop Event

On Tuesday 30 April, we were delighted to host a special workshop event for alumni representing all our Foundation schools and heritage schools to look at the key Strategic Pillars for our alumni and development programme, which cover: Connectivity and engagement, careers and networking, social events, the structure and responsibilities of the committee and how the alumni can best support the Foundation’s development efforts.

Over 40 alumni took part; they were grouped according to their leaving decades from the 1960s right up to the present day. Guided by the Foundation team, they gave their opinions and enthusiastically discussed activity for each of the pillars as outlined above.

We were overwhelmed by the buzz in the room and the positivity and support expressed by the group. Listening to the feedback, the first thing we need to focus on is the structure of the Committee, as we feel this is central to the success of the association going forward.

It was clear that we need representation on the Committee from across all the Foundation schools and Heritage schools (St Mary’s, St Bede’s, St Joseph’s, Abbotsford, Crackley Hall, Crescent School and Princethorpe), as well as from each decade of our existence, from the 1960s to the 2020s. Crucially, we need a current Sixth Former on the committee to ensure a close connection with the school. In addition, it is important that we have former parents and staff represented, as well as overseas alumni.

Some committee members may of course cover more than one category and therefore represent more than one group, and we would ideally be looking for 15 - 20 people who are willing to participate actively in the association.

The members would each be linked to one of the five strategic pillars according to their particular interest or skillset, and as such would drive and support that programme of activity by helping organise and deliver initiatives, enlisting the help of fellow alumni, attending or hosting events, suggesting content, etc.

Such programmes of activity could include creating more targeted communications according to age and interest areas, career industry spotlights and podcasts, additional locations for social meet-ups, e.g. Bristol, events specifically for those who left within the past five years, increased links with and support for the PTA, more testimonials of impact of fundraising, and raising the profile of the OP committee in the wider community.

If your interest is piqued by reading this, and you would like to get involved in the work of the OP Committee, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk to indicate your areas of interest.

We would like to thank all those who took part in the workshop for giving their time so generously. It really bodes well for the future of the alumni association and the continuance of a mutually beneficial relationship with all our schools.

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Caroline Spencer Relishes Her New Role As Alumni Relations And Development Officer

One month into the job, I can happily confirm that embarking on a career change at the age of 41 was absolutely the right choice for me.

I have always loved people, which I know sounds vague, but it sums up my history of being a sociable person who enjoys getting to know people on a deeper level, often at risk of over-sharing details about myself! It explains why I relish working as part of a team, and why I love documentaries and non-fiction that focus on the lives of real individuals (this includes a love of True Crime podcasts!)

For the last 13 years, I have been teaching Drama at Alcester Grammar School. I loved working there, with amazing colleagues and delightful students, but over the last few years I developed a growing desire to channel my strengths and interests in a new direction.

My husband alerted me to the advert for this role and it attracted me immediately. It is a role which prioritises the forging of meaningful relationships and the ability to create the means to connect and engage people; with the intention of sustaining Princethorpe's spirit of family so that all members of the community continue to feel a part of that family even after they move on.

From the moment I started I could see this spirit of family in action. I am part of a team, each member with their own distinct role and skillset, but with the attitude that we do it together and look after each other. I have loved learning the various elements of my role, especially the opportunities to meet our OPs in person, be that at events or by taking visitors on tours around the school. I am excited to continue learning and am particularly keen to get to know our vast and vibrant alumni community.

Thank you to my new colleagues for making me feel so welcome and helping me to settle in so happily. And thank you to the OPs I've met so far, in person or online, for your generosity and kindness as I've made my first efforts to get to know you.

I look forward to more opportunities to know and support you all over the coming months and years.

Caroline can be contacted via oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk or call 01926 634209.

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A Good Evening For All At OPs Local Pub Meet

We had a great turn out of OPs, current and former members of staff at the Leamington Pub Meet on Friday 8 March.

There were OPs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s in attendance, including St Joseph’s alumni, along with Princethorpe legends, Mr Darkes, Mr Hester, Mr McCullough and Mr White. It was also a great opportunity for the OPs to meet Headmaster, Mr du Toit and new Alumni and Development Officer, Cas Spencer.

The meet, upstairs at The Fox and Vivian on Clarendon Street, was a jovial evening for all concerned, catching up and swapping stories over a delicious spread and a drink or two.

Comments OP Chairman, Peter Rollason, "Our local meets are always popular and attract a good crowd. These events really are the lifeblood of the association, cementing existing friendships and forging new ones."

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Steve Calcutt Was Our Easter Winner

Our congratulations went to Steve Calcutt (Class of 2012) who was our Princethorpe Connect Easter Prize Draw winner. Steve’s name was randomly selected from all those who had engaged with Princethorpe Connect from 23 February to 22 March. A host of Bettys chocolate and teatime treats were delivered to him just in time for the Easter weekend. Steve was delighted to hear of his win and we are sure he enjoyed consuming the Easter treats with the help of his wife and daughter.

After leaving Princethorpe Steve completed a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Aston University. He now lives with his family in Hampton Magna in Warwickshire and is a Supply Chain Development Manager at AAH Pharmaceuticals.

It was great to catch up with Steve and here his news. For your chance to win, look out for our next Princethorpe Connect prize draw which takes place in the summer!

OP Guy Minshull Speaks To The Sixth Form About His Amazing Atlantic Dash

Princethorpe College was delighted to welcome OP and current parent Guy Minshull back to school on Wednesday 17 April, as the latest in our series of inspirational speakers for our Sixth Form students. Guy attended the College from 1980 to 1985 and now farms locally. His first teacher at Princethorpe was Alex Darkes who was also on hand to hear Guy speak.

Guy has just completed the challenge of a lifetime, one of the toughest endurance events in the world. Pitting himself against the might of the Atlantic Ocean in the Atlantic Dash, a 3,200-mile rowing race from Lanzarote to Antigua. He spoke to students about his 52-day journey and the life lessons he has taken away.

Guy committed to the challenge to support his long-time friend Rod but with no nautical experience even the journey to the row was hard. After all their preparations, the Brightsides team (Guy, Rod, Anna and Pez) set off on Wednesday 3 January and rowed two hours on two hours off for 24-hours a day. Along the way they endured wild weather, encountered wildlife, including flying fish, dolphins and even a pesky marlin, were blessed with vivid sunrises and sunsets galore and stunning night skies. They also suffered from painful blisters and callouses as they all turned into toughened rowing machines. They finally reached Antigua on Sunday 25 February, cheered in by delighted family and friends.

Before their challenge the team of four rowers had agreed to four simple rules, don’t be late for a shift, give it everything, have fun and to come home as friends and Guy concluded his talk with the message that with the right team pulling together anything is possible. His final advice to his audience was that it is always good to get out of your comfort zone and that no matter how tough things are it is worth keeping going.

Huge thanks to Guy for sharing his experiences with us and congratulations to all the Brightsides team on their superhuman effort, and for together raising over £150,000 for two charities, Meningitis Now and Get A-Head.

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Mr Darkes Teaches In The New Science Centre

Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes ventured into the classroom for probably the last time on Wednesday 20 March when he took over Deputy Head (Academic), Michael Spencer’s Year 10 Physics lesson on electricity. Alex was the Foundation’s lead on the College’s new Science Centre. Taking it from concept through design and construction and all the way to the official handover at the start of this school year. As a Physics teacher himself, it seemed only fitting that before he retired, he had the chance to teach in one of the new Physics laboratories and inspire the latest generation of Princethorpians with his love of physics and science.

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Duke Of Edinburgh's Gold Awards Presented At Buckingham Palace

18 Princethorpians were invited to Buckingham Palace in London to recognise their achievement of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. Across four very special events, they joined thousands of young people and their families celebrating their success.

Many were invited on Friday 10 May, when the charity’s Patron, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, a Gold Award achiever himself, congratulated all who had completed the challenging award, commending them on their perseverance, creativity and resilience.

Head of Outdoor Education, Will Bower, commented, “Completing your Gold Duke of Edinburgh takes real commitment and resolve, and the skills developed along the way benefit both the individual and their local community. All of these young people showed dedication and perseverance and their final expedition to Buckingham Palace is a really wonderful reward.”

Receiving their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award in ceremonies this year are: Amberquay Alford, Joshua Apaya, Dawson Barnett, Frederick Boyd, Thomas Dodsley, Eve Farquharson, Eloise Gray, Molly Harper, Ruby Harris, Evie Headland, Harry Hewitt, Lucy Hurworth, Noah Kemp, Niall Meades, Rahul Samra, Edward Sharpe, Tom Spencer and Charlotte Wildey.

We look forward to news of further awards presentations and don’t forget that the maximum age limit for completing your awards is 25 years.

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Year 10 Explore Good And Evil With OP Tesni Shemilt

Princethorpe welcomed OP Tesni Shemilt (Class of 2016) to school on Wednesday 8 May to talk to Year 10 about life as a prison officer and its challenges and rewards. Year 10 study ‘Good and Evil’ in their module on Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the Modern World in their Religious Studies GCSE.

Tesni last visited Princethorpe on her A-level results day so, before her talk, Head of Religious Studies, Cyp Vella, gave her a quick tour of the College to bring back memories of her school days.

Tesni told Year 10 about her journey to becoming a prison officer and then talked about the skills she needs to do the job and the challenges she faces. She spoke about being a key worker and problem solver and her work to support and help the inmates she works with break the cycle of reoffending.

Tesni gave Year 10 plenty to think about and reflect on as they study the concepts of good and evil and we thank her for delivering such an interesting and informative session. It was great to welcome her back to Princethorpe and to hear all about her career.

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Carys Nicolle Is Our Upper Sixth Princethorpe Connect Winner

Soon-To-Be Old Princethorpian, Carys Nicolle, is the lucky winner of the College’s Upper Sixth Leavers' Princethorpe Connect Prize Draw, winning a £25 Amazon Voucher and a Magnum Of Fizz for her table at the Leavers’ Ball on Tuesday 2 July at Warwick House, Southam.

All the Upper Sixth were encouraged to join Princethorpe Connect over the last few weeks giving them access to our online Old Princethorpians network, careers and mentoring advice, the termly OP e-newsletter and OP Friendly Faces - our initiative to match new undergraduates with OPs at universities around the country. They will also be able to view their Leavers’ Ball photos on the platform after the event.

Any of the Upper Sixth who have yet to join can do so by going to connect.princethorpe.co.uk and creating a profile as an Upper Sixth Leaver.

All the Upper Sixth leavers profiles will be going live next week.

Parents of Upper Sixth leavers, for whom this is their last year in the Foundation, are also very welcome to join as a Former Parent and can do so be going to connect.princethorpe.co.uk and creating a profile as a Former Parent.

Parents might also like to take a look at the Princethorpe Connect Online Shop and purchase some of our souvenir items which include the OP Tie, Tower Pin, Scarf, Pen and the Soaring Redbrick Tower Fine Art Print. Items will also be available to purchase at the Upper Sixth Thanksgiving Eucharist and Buffet on Tuesday 25 June.


Wishing all our Upper Sixth leavers well as they complete their time at Princethorpe College and begin their journey as an Old Princethorpian. Good luck to them all in their exams and do please keep in touch, we always love to hear how you are doing.


OPs Bluebells And Brunch Was A Real Family Affair

This year's OPs Bluebells and Brunch was a real family affair, with past pupils accompanied by spouses, partners, their parents, children, a bump (and even the odd pet pooch!). It was a real pleasure to have past pupils attending from the very earliest days of the College right up to a leaver of 2023.

All enjoyed a friendly catch up with former and current staff over a delicious brunch, a tour of the school, including spotting themselves in the whole school photos, followed by a leisurely stroll around the Mile Walk. To top it all, the weather couldn't have been kinder to us!

All former pupils, staff and parents are welcome to attend our alumni events, find out more on Princethorpe Connect.

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Super Summer Princethorpe Connect Cream Tea Prize Draw

Online membership of Princethorpe Connect, our alumni network for former pupils, staff and parents from across all the Foundation schools, has been steadily building over the last few months and now stands at just over 1,500.

We’d like to see the number of online members increase and we would also like to see our current members engaging more with the platform. So, to encourage more interaction the Princethorpe Connect Team is inviting you to connect to or interact with Princethorpe Connect by Friday 28 June to be in with a chance to win a delicious Cream Tea Hamper from The Cornish Company.

Online membership brings with it many benefits, members receive the termly OP e-newsletter including the latest news and events, are able to view private photo galleries, connect with other online members and access our Clubs, Careers and Networking pages.

For your chance to win, simply either ‘Create a Profile’, or if you are already an online member add to your current profile with a photo, update your work or contact details or invite a friend to join from your profile page. Do any or all of the above at https://connect.princethorpe.co.uk/ by Friday 28 June 2024 to qualify for the draw.

The draw will be pulled from all online members who have interacted with the site from Friday 24 May to Friday 28 June and the lucky winner will be notified and their prize dispatched.

Good luck to all!

Six OPs Ran The London Marathon

April is London Marathon month, with runners from all over the country converging on the capital to pound the pavements in aid of their chosen charity. The lucky competitors having trained hard over the winter, hitting the roads on dark, cold and windy nights, to be sure to be ready to take on their challenge on Sunday 21 April.

This year’s runners included six Old Prinethorpians, Flora Courtney, Ben Haden, Will Pullen, Nick Harris, Jenny Vaughan ans Eve Tolley.

We gave a shout out to Flora Courtney, class of 2016, in the Lent OP newsletter. Flora ran for the Carers Trust. A charity that seeks to improve the support and services available for anyone living with the challenges of unpaid caring. She completed the course in 4 hours 31 minutes raising nearly £2,000. Find out more here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/flora-courtney

Then back in the Michaelmas newsletter we shared the news that two OPs, Ben Haden and Will Pullen (both class of 2018), were taking on the London Marathon. Ben ran in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity that provides young people with nurses and youth workers to help them cope with their illness. He smashed his target raising over £3,000. Find out more here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/ben-haden 

While Will ran for Anthony Nolan, a charity which makes lifesaving connections between patients in need and strangers ready to donate their stem cells. Will has so far raised over £3,500. You can support his fundraising here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/will-pullen

We spotted that, despite claiming not to be a runner, OP Nick Harris (1989 - 1993) was also running this year’s London Marathon for the Salvation Army, in aid of their refuge and homelessness projects. He successfully completed the course and raised nearly £2,000. You can support him here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/nicholas-harris

Then OP Jenny Vaughan, class of 2002, who is our fabulous Registrar at Foundation Prep School, Crackley Hall School, ran for Dementia UK. Jenny told us, “I secured my place in the London Marathon 2024 through my running club ballot, with Kenilworth Runners. Having been unsuccessful in the general ballot for the past four years, I had convinced myself another year would go by without being able to run it. When my name was selected, I was shocked to say the least! I have run marathons before, however they have been trail runs over mountainous terrain and completely different to attempting a faster pace on tarmac. Having recently come back from a tendinopathy injury, I have taken a sensible approach to training and aim to simply finish on the day. I have chosen to fundraise for Dementia UK after seeing my Grandma decline in health with dementia and just how cruel the disease can be. The nurses at Dementia UK provide free support and advice to anyone affected by dementia.” Jenny completed the London Marathon in an incredible time of 3 hours and 51 minutes. She said, “It was an absolutely amazing experience with huge support from the crowds to help get me through the final miles. I would recommend anyone to try their luck in the general ballot, or apply for a charity place, even if you're not a runner. It truly is one for your bucket list! I am just about fully recovered now apart from a few sore and very black toes!” You can still support her here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/jenny-vaughan-1707674955145

Finally, OP Eve Tolley (Class of 2018) also ran the London Marathon raising money for the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Children). It was her first ever marathon and before the event she told us, “It is going to be tough but I’m looking forward to race day and raising money for a great cause. The NSPCC are an amazing charity who work tirelessly every day to support the half a million children a year who suffer abuse in the UK.” Eve completed the course in an amazing 4 hours 16 minutes. Any donations to Eve’s fundraising big or small would still be greatly appreciated. Find out more here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/eve-tolley  

We congratulate all our OP runners on their superhuman efforts completing this year's London Marathon.

And, if you fancy taking on the marathon challenge next year, then do make sure you share your story with us so we can share news of your endeavour with the wider OP community!


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

This year we were delighted to be able to introduce recent leavers to an OP Friendly Face during the Michaelmas Term. In universities across the UK, as far afield as Bristol, Bath, Loughborough, Cambridge, Southampton and Liverpool to name just a few, the students enjoyed the benefits of a welcoming friendly face whilst settling into their first year.

Our scheme links past pupils established at university with Upper Sixth Leavers as they start their first year. Providing a friendly, familiar face to meet up with over a coffee (compliments of the OPs) or having someone to call in their new university town or city, does, we know, make for a smoother experience in those first few weeks away from home.

Our current Upper Sixth were introduced to the OP Friendly Faces scheme, and to the benefits of joining Princethorpe Connect and the Old Princethorpians Association, shortly before they went on study leave.

Comments OPs Secretary, Melanie Butler, "We now have OP Friendly Faces in many university towns and cities but would like to expand on that 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.

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: 

  • 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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College News

Princethorpe Says Farewell To Mr Darkes

We said our farewells to, Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes, on Tuesday 30 April, who was retiring after 45 years of working at the school. Alex joined Princethorpe College back in September 1979 when Father Bill Clarkson MSC was Headmaster and he has seen many changes and developments over the years, serving under no fewer than eight Headmasters. His association with the College goes back even further though, as he was also a pupil here for seven years (1968-1975) and, in his leaving year, the winner of the coveted Princethorpe Shield. Throughout his time at Princethorpe he has embodied the school’s ethos, and his love of the College has always shone through.

Over the course of his career, Alex has delighted in passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm for so many things, not least his main subject, Physics. Generations of Princethorpians have benefited from his excellent teaching, pastoral care and immeasurable kindness.

His contribution to the College, however, has been far greater than just in the classroom, he has been involved in so many aspects of College life. In addition to teaching and being a form tutor, he led marketing, admissions, operations and IT, and even managed the bus services. He was at the very heart of co-curricular activities such as Photography Club, equestrian events, school trips far and wide, the Arts Society, the Old Princethorpians’ Association and the popular annual Motoring Festival, which he organised for 26 years. In more recent times, he played a key role in mergers, environmental sustainability planning, the introduction of the Development team and the project management of all the Foundation’s major building projects, including the new Science Centre. He even co-wrote a history book about the first fifty years of the College for its Golden Jubilee in 2016-17.

All this he has done with good humour, kindness, tenacity and determination and as, Foundation Principal, Ed Hester, said in Alex’s leaving presentation, “Alex embodies our 'Spirit of Family' ethos. He is one of the finest colleagues I have ever had the pleasure to work with. When I arrived, he was my right-hand man who having done so much, in so many areas, knew pretty much everything about everyone.”

Indeed, Alex is renowned for his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Princethorpe, his amazing memory for names and faces, his skilful masterminding of projects and meticulous attention to detail and his wonderful wit, cheerfulness and sense of fun. Alex is our very own ‘Mr Princethorpe’ and therefore, on his retirement it is most appropriate that there will be a corner of Princethorpe, and particularly a Physics laboratory in The Science Centre, his final and most ambitious project, named after him in perpetuity.

At midnight on Tuesday 30 April he officially became an Old Princethorpian, although he will be maintaining his relationship with the Foundation, as Alex has kindly agreed to take on the role of Archivist Emeritus, so he can continue to play a part in the College’s rich history. It’s a role that has commenced already with Alex recently recording a retirement interview where he answered questions posed by Princethorpians old and new. If you would like to listen to the interview you can find it here.

Unassuming as ever, at his leaving presentation, Alex Darkes said, “Thanks to my many wonderful colleagues and pupils, I have had a blast of a time. Thank you everyone for your friendship and kindness.”

Alex leaves us with our very best wishes. He was presented with cards and gifts, including a new cabin suitcase, the perfect present for Alex who loves to travel. We are delighted that he now finally has the chance to fulfil his and every teacher’s dream – to take a holiday in term time!

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Inauguration Ceremony Welcomes New Princethorpe Prefect Body

The new Princethorpe College Prefect Body for 2024-2025 was formally inaugurated into office at an end of term ceremony on Friday 22 March. Parents of the new prefects were invited to College to watch the afternoon’s formal ceremony.

Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie, introduced the incoming prefects who were presented with their prefect badges by Grove du Toit, Headmaster. Outgoing Heads of School, Natalya Elden and Izzy Wright, formally handed over the keys of office to the incoming Heads of School, Seb Bainbridge and Megan Shipton.

Mr du Toit took inspiration from the gospel as he shared his thoughts on the importance of leadership and the qualities of a good leader.

The College extends warm thanks to the outgoing prefect body and subject ambassadors for all their hard work and unstinting service this last year.

We wish the new prefects well as they take up their duties.


Princethorpe Partners With Team Super Sports To Offer Summer Holiday Camps

Princethorpe College is delighted to be partnering with Team Super Sports to offer Holiday Camps to children aged 5 to 16 years for six weeks this July and August.

The initiative is part of the Foundation’s new Commercial Enterprise activity aimed at generating additional sources of income and is in response to feedback and demand from parents.

The Summer Holiday Camps will run from 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday from 15 July to 23 August and are open to all. They will offer a wide variety of sporting activities, taking advantage of the College’s extensive grounds and sporting facilities. Youngsters aged 7 to 16 can take their pick of rugby, cricket, football, gymnastics, netball, hockey and tennis and create their very own sports camp. In addition to sports, dance and games there will also be optional arts and crafts activities for younger children aged 5 to 7.

Comments, Gemma Cullinane, Princethorpe Commercial Enterprise Manager, “Team Super Sports are an experienced provider of sport and multi-activity holiday camps with a fantastic reputation for top-level coaching for children of all abilities. We are very excited to be joining forces with them for the first of many holiday camps to come.

Dan Super, Founder of Team Super Sports, added, “Princethorpe’s beautiful campus is the perfect setting for a holiday camp. We are expecting it to be a very popular choice for many families in the local area.”

For more information and to book your child’s place simply visit the Team Super Sports website here. The camps are priced at £37 a day. Bookings before the early bird deadline of Sunday 9 June attract an extra 10% discount and there are further discounts available for siblings and four and five-day bookings. Childcare vouchers are also accepted.

Team Super Sports will be on hand at the College’s Open Evening on Wednesday 5 June and at Induction Day on Wednesday 26 June to answer any questions families may have or you can contact them at info@teamsupersports.co.uk or call 01675 448494.

Crackley Hall’s popular Holiday Club will continue to run as normal.

OPs interested in a holiday job should visit the Team Super Sports vacancies page on their website to apply.

New Foundation Advertising Campaign Plays On Unique Strengths

The Foundation's new advertising campaign launched in March across a variety of media. It takes a joined-up approach to communicate the values and ethos of a Princethorpe Foundation education to prospective parents and pupils.

The new Foundation for Life campaign has been developed to highlight that our schools provide more than just an education, preparing pupils with the skills, learning and experiences which will put them on the road to happy and fulfilled lives. The concept underscores the unique strength of the Foundation and that there is a Princethorpe Foundation setting for every stage of a child’s educational journey. It also incorporates a gentle play on words.

Using a distinctive new graphic style emphasising the Tower icon, alongside eye-catching photography, the individual school logos and palette of Foundation brand colours, plus a new gold Foundation colour, the campaign is designed to be both visually impactful and incorporate strong messaging. Text panels emphasise that every individual is valued and that our family of schools aim to nurture, inspire and challenge our pupils to achieve great things.

Comments Melanie Butler, Foundation Assistant Head for Marketing, Admissions and Communications, "We have long wanted an overarching Foundation advertising campaign that encapsulates what the Foundation offers as a whole, as well as being adaptable to the personalities and nature of the individual school or nursery settings.

"Foundation Marketing and Communications Executive, Jo Flowers, and I have really enjoyed developing the campaign with the help of Marketing Consultant and OP, Nigel Bromley and our designer, Debbie McLaughlin. We hope the campaign will resonate not only with prospectives in terms of what they are looking for from a school or Foundation for their child, but with the whole Princethorpe community - staff, parents, pupils and Old Princethorpians alike."

Timed to coincide with the launch of Princethorpe’s 2025 admissions cycle, the Marketing Team have been hard at work rolling the campaign out across digital, outdoor and traditional media for all the Foundation schools.

Check out the first of our advert concepts in the gallery!

Foundation Bursar Announces His Plan To Retire

After 16 years of outstanding service, our Foundation Bursar, Eddie Tolcher, will be stepping down from his full-time role at the end of the calendar year.

Eddie, a former Crescent pupil and an Old Princethorpian, has been a tremendous servant, playing a leading role in the development and success of the Foundation. Eddie arrived shortly before Ed Hester and together they led on the mergers of Crackley Hall and Abbotsford in 2010 and Crescent School into the Foundation in 2016, both of which significantly strengthened all our schools. He has also overseen a major programme of campus development across all three schools, most recently with the new Science Centre at the College. Eddie has been tireless in supporting the Heads to deliver the very best possible schools and we would like to publicly thank him for all he has done.

In light of Eddie’s forthcoming retirement, the Foundation has reconfigured its organisational design in line with our commitment to continue to deliver our key strategic pillar of “Operational and Financial Efficiency and Excellence” and are in the process of appointing a new Head of Business Services by the end of the year. We have already started the recruitment process for the pivotal role. 

Eddie will be continuing his role as Clerk to the Trustees, and on special projects so we are delighted that we will be retaining his knowledge and wisdom in the years ahead.

Season 3 Of Sister Boniface Showing Soon On UKTV Drama Channel

We have just heard that Season 3 of The Sister Boniface Mysteries, the spin-off of the popular Father Brown series, will be aired on UKTV’s Drama channel from Friday 7 June.

The show follows the adventures of Sister Boniface, a Vespa-driving, crime solving, Cotswold-dwelling nun and scenes from the murder mystery were filmed at Princethorpe last summer holidays. According to UKTV this latest series includes the story of a famous organist murdered mid tune in the Chapel (we wonder where that might be) as well as story lines of mysterious kidnappings and stolen precious jewels.

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

We can’t wait to see Princethorpe transported back in time.

Bluebells Put On A Super Show

Springtime is the season for wildflowers and here at Princethorpe that always means bluebells. The bright violet-blue native perennials carpet the woodlands around the College site every year from April to May. After the mild winter, this year the bluebells flowered early and were glorious once again.

Almost half the world’s bluebells are found in the UK – they are relatively rare elsewhere. Bluebell colonies take a long time to establish so we are especially proud of the display in the woods along the Mile Walk.

For all Princethorpians old and new, the bluebells are synonymous with Princethorpe. We popped out to take some photos to share and we hope you enjoy looking through them and seeing this year’s display.

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New Solar/Wind Powered Defib Installed On Sports Fields

Princethorpe College has led the way in pupil and community medical emergency safety as well as sustainable thinking, by installing a wind and solar powered defib and bleed control cabinet out on the College’s sports fields.

The College has partnered with the OurJay Foundation – which fundraises and campaigns for publicly accessible defibrillators and trains and educates on CPR and the use of defibs, local company Share Haulage Ltd and the school’s Princethorpe PTA, who have each funded one-third of the costs. The emergency medical equipment will serve the local community and the school and has been provided by Turtle Engineering Ltd.

Grove du Toit, Headmaster at Princethorpe College, said: “It’s a real honour to be leading the way on the installation of this new defib technology. We understand that the first seven minutes are crucial when dealing with a cardiac arrest, so having the equipment close to hand and easily accessible to both our pupils and the public will be a major factor in potentially saving lives.”

You can read the full story on our website here.

Pinnacle Showcases Pupils' Outstanding Work

The latest issue of the Pinnacle was published back in February, showcasing yet more of our pupils' excellent work. The magazine's new editorial team, Julia Lindsay, Jo Evans and Sarah Duran, have given the Pinnacle a bit of a revamp and they hope you like its restyle.

The Pinnacle has always celebrated our pupils at their best and this edition includes plenty more examples of their outstanding efforts. History features, with project work from Year 7, 8 and 9, on the Romans, Richard III and World War Two. As does MFL, with excellent examples of descriptive writing from Year 7 and Year 8 in Spanish and in French.

There is a special Photography Club article exploring evening photography and a cross foundation spread showing the different initiatives that take place across all the Foundation schools.

A double-sided Minnacle is included too, with equally impressive work by Crackley Hall and Crescent pupils. It's wonderful to celebrate their talents.

You can read a copy of The Pinnacle on our school website here.

Dance Added To Performing Arts Pathways From September 2024

Princethorpe College is introducing a new BTEC Level 2 Performing Arts Dance programme from September 2024, strengthening our performing arts pathways and providing an exciting new creative subject for pupils to study.

Leading the subject will be Rachel Fox, an experienced dance teacher, performer and choreographer, who will be joining us from Birmingham’s renowned specialist Performing Arts Academy BOA. With a first-class degree in Dance, postgraduate teaching qualifications and plenty of experience of teaching BTEC Dance at Level 2 and beyond, Mrs Fox will deliver a highly creative course that enables pupils to refine their performance skills, explore diverse styles and choreograph their own work.

The new BTEC Level 2 qualification is open to all pupils who are currently in Year 9 for a September 2024 start. Find out more on our website here.

The addition of Dance to the curriculum will be reflected in our PE, Games and co-curricular offering of clubs and activities and Mrs Fox will also be available to other pupils, where possible, to assist with dance work related to out of school commitments.

Princethorpe Marks The Bi-Centenary Of Jules Chevalier's Birth

In March, Princethorpe College marked the bi-centenary of the birth of Jules Chevalier MSC, founder of the religious order that established Princethorpe College. Across the school, pupils and staff took part in special assemblies, activities and themed lessons to remember and celebrate his legacy.

Foundation Principal, Ed Hester and Fr Alan Whelan MSC led assemblies sharing the history of the formation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) and Chevalier’s enduring message of ‘Love One Another’ (John 13:34). At the end of the assembly Fr Alan introduced pupils to a new prayer, that will be a focus for our Eucharist in the Trinity Term.

Across their lessons, pupils have explored the legacy of the MSCs and Jules Chevalier’s message of love in many different ways: writing letters to pen pals at fellow MSC schools in English, planning journeys to and exploring the site of Issoudon (where the MSCs were first founded) in Geography, creating ‘This Is Your Life’ posters and booklets on Jules Chevalier in History, exploring and celebrating the number 200 in Maths, designing and making hearts and crosses or producing French food in DT, producing fact files and completing comprehension tasks on Jules Chevalier in MFL, reflecting on the work of the MSCs in RS and adding Jules Chevalier’s birth date to timelines of the universe in Science.

Pupils in Years 7 and 8 have also completed a ‘What will you put your heart into’ activity with the Chaplaincy team and their ideas are now on display outside the Chapel. Along the Cloister Corridor there is an exhibition of archive material, showing the history of the College and its longstanding connections to the MSCs.

Then to officially mark the bi-centenary, on Friday 15 March, Jules Chevalier’s birth date, the whole school community enjoyed a slice of cake.

Jules Chevalier’s message of love continues to inspire our community’s ethos and values and remains at the heart of all we do.

More House Win The House Cup

More House celebrated once again after winning the most hotly contested competition in school, the House Cup. Their victory was announced by House Activities Leader, Meg O’Gorman, in the Prefect Inauguration ceremony on the last day of the Lent Term. The House Cup was presented to the outgoing More House Captains, Eloise Keil and Finn Osborn, as jubilant More pupils cheered across the school.

More had started their campaign well winning Sports Day, but the race was on when Fisher claimed victory on House Activities Day. Across the year, pupils participated enthusiastically enjoying all the events, including exciting new ones such as House O’Games and Pancake Tossing.

It was a steady and consistent performance that helped More pupils amass their huge total of points and finish first for the second year running. The final placings were: 1st More, 2nd Fisher, 3rd Austin and 4th Benet.

Huge thanks to all the House team, including the House Activities Co-ordinators (Mrs Galano, Miss Howell, Miss Callan and Mrs Wilford) and the House Captains for all they do to organise and run House events.

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Cambridge Offer For High-Flying Princethorpe Sixth Former

Back in February, Princethorpe College Upper Sixth Former and Academic Prefect, Joseph Newborough, was thrilled to received an offer to read Maths and Physics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie, commented, “Joseph had earned his success. Applying to Oxbridge is a character-testing experience. The process is very competitive, with students facing pre-tests, intensive scrutiny of their academic and personal achievements and rigorous interviews.”

There was good news for the Upper Sixth across the board too, with the College pleased to support 115 applications through UCAS this year. Our Sixth Formers are all now in the midst of their public examinations and we wish them every success.

Ben Collie, continues, “Our Upper Sixth have exciting plans for the future, whether that be studying at university, undertaking internships or apprenticeships, working or taking gap years and we are delighted to support them all towards their next steps.”

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

Development News

Celebrating Our Sporting Heritage And Looking To The Future

On the evening of Friday 10 May, Princethorpe College hosted a memorable dinner at the College’s Sixth Form Centre, bringing together 80 members of our vibrant community. Old Princethorpians, current and former staff, as well as current and former parents, gathered to celebrate our rich sporting heritage and to look ahead with excitement to the future of sports at Princethorpe.

Guests were welcomed on the Sixth Form lawn with drinks, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and reconnecting with old friends. As they made their way inside, they were greeted by Ed Hester, Foundation Principal, who set a warm and welcoming tone for the evening.

The dinner featured a series of inspiring talks, starting with OP Dan Skelton, racehorse trainer. Dan spoke fondly about his time at Princethorpe, highlighting how the experiences and values he gained here have shaped his successes today. He also shared how he has recently taken up cricket to help relax and provide a balance outside of his family and work commitments. His reflections on the significance of maintaining physical activity and finding joy in sports resonated deeply with the audience.

Following Dan's heartfelt speech, guests enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by our talented catering team.

After dinner, Nick Cook, a distinguished friend of the College and former English cricketer, took the stage. Nick shared captivating stories from his cricketing career and discussed the invaluable lessons he learned through perseverance and teamwork. His engaging talk concluded with a lively Q&A session, where guests had the opportunity to ask questions and gain further insights into his experiences.

The evening reached its pinnacle when, Headmaster, Grove du Toit presented his vision for the future of sports at Princethorpe. Grove spoke passionately about the College’s commitment to expanding and enhancing our sports facilities to better serve our pupils and community. He outlined ambitious plans that promise to elevate Princethorpe’s sporting programs, fostering an environment where our young people can thrive both competitively and personally. His vision includes new initiatives and improvements designed to attract and support our pupils, ensuring that Princethorpe remains at the forefront of school sports.

Grove’s address was met with enthusiasm, reflecting the community’s shared excitement for the future. His vision highlights the College’s dedication to nurturing future generations of athletes and reinforcing the importance of sports in personal development.

As the evening drew to a close, guests mingled and continued their conversations, leaving with a renewed sense of pride and anticipation. The dinner was not only a celebration of our past achievements but also a powerful reminder of the potential that lies ahead. It reinforced the strong bonds within our Princethorpe family and our collective commitment to nurturing future generations.

The event was a resounding success, thanks in large part to the participation and enthusiasm of our alumni, staff, and parents. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who attended and contributed to making the evening so memorable. Here’s to the rich sporting tradition of Princethorpe College and to the exciting future that awaits.

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College Hosts Second Annual Farmers Networking Dinner And Launches Smallholding Project Fundraising Appeal

In February, Princethorpe College was proud to host its second annual Farmers Networking Dinner, an event that has quickly become a highlight in our community calendar. This year’s gathering was especially momentous as we launched our fundraising appeal for a new and exciting project - the development of a smallholding at the school. The dinner brought together 80 members of the Princethorpe and farming communities in a vibrant evening of networking, insightful presentations, and shared aspirations for the future of agriculture and education.

The event featured two distinguished speakers from our alumni network who provided valuable perspectives on the agricultural sector. John Price, a Princethorpe alumnus, captivated the audience with his reflections on the current state of farming and his personal experiences since his time at Princethorpe. His insights into modern farming practices and the challenges facing today’s agriculturalists resonated deeply with both the younger and older members of the audience.

We were also honoured to have Jennie Wheildon, Partner at Shakespeare Martineau law firm and an expert in agricultural law, who presented on alternative funding opportunities for farmers. Her expertise shed light on innovative financial solutions that could benefit farmers looking to expand or sustain their operations in these challenging economic times.

The highlight of the evening was the official launch of our smallholding project fundraising appeal. The smallholding aims to provide our pupils with hands-on agricultural education and experience in sustainable farming practices. This initiative is designed to not only enrich our curriculum but also to foster an appreciation and understanding of food production and farm management among our students.

Furthermore, the smallholding is envisioned as a community hub, where we aim to welcome young people from across the region to learn in the environment and gain practical knowledge about agricultural practices. This inclusive approach reinforces our commitment to broadening access to agricultural education and fostering a deeper connection with the natural world.

The enthusiasm and support from the attendees were overwhelming, with many expressing their commitment to the project. The launch generated significant initial contributions, indicating strong community support and a promising start towards reaching our funding goal.

As we move forward with this project, we look forward to the continued involvement and support of our alumni and community partners. The smallholding will not only serve as an educational tool but also as a community resource, where the principles of environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture are practiced and taught.

We are grateful for the robust turnout and the spirited discussions that marked this year's Farmers Networking Dinner. Such events underscore the strength of our community and its dedication to advancing agricultural education and sustainable practices.

Stay tuned for more updates as we progress with the development of the smallholding and continue to foster a connection between Princethorpe College and the broader agricultural community. Your support and involvement are invaluable to us as we embark on this exciting journey to educate future generations of farmers and environmental stewards.

You can support the Smallholding project here.

Steve Kowal
Development Director

Princethorpe The Charity

We are constantly seeking ways to make a meaningful impact - not just within the walls of our classrooms but beyond. It is with great pride that we share an often-overlooked aspect of our institution: our status as a registered charity (1087124). This designation is not just a bureaucratic label; it is a gateway to extensive philanthropic opportunities that cater to the diverse interests and passions of our community.

The Princethorpe Foundation and our schools are uniquely positioned to act as a conduit for charitable efforts across a spectrum of causes. Whether it's advancing educational opportunities, preserving cultural heritage, promoting religious understanding, or supporting environmental stewardship, the possibilities are as vast as the imagination and goodwill of our community members.

A Platform for Diverse Philanthropic Activities

Every contribution we receive can be directed towards initiatives that resonate deeply with donors’ values. This model of giving ensures that our community can support a broad array of projects, making philanthropy highly personal and immediately impactful. Here are just a few ways that donations are helping:

  • Access to Education: Our bursaries are directly impacting the lives of young people and their families, who excel academically, but could otherwise not afford a Princethorpe Education.
  • Cultural Preservation: Support to maintain and celebrate our historic priory buildings.
    Sports and the Arts: Activities that nurture pupils' physical and creative growth and the facilities they use.
  • Agricultural Education: Initiatives that promote farming practices and enhance pupils' understanding of agriculture’s critical role in our ecosystem and economy.

These examples only scratch the surface of what we can achieve together. Our charitable framework allows us to funnel support where it is most needed or most desired, turning the generous contributions of today into the lasting benefits of tomorrow.

Engage, Contribute, and Impact

We invite every member of our community to engage with us in this journey of philanthropy. Think about what causes you are passionate about. How can your contributions, big or small, play a role in advancing these causes? We are here to facilitate this process, to make sure that your giving is as rewarding as it is effective.

If you have ideas, projects, or specific causes you would like to support, please reach out. We are eager to discuss how we can work together to harness the power of our community for the greater good. Your involvement is crucial to our success and vital in shaping the philanthropic landscape of our community.

Through your support, we can continue to expand the boundaries of what we can achieve as a collective. Let’s continue to inspire change and make a significant impact on the world around us. Together, we can build a legacy of community, care, and change that will resonate for generations to come.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our collective future. Let us harness our efforts to not only educate but to enrich our world in myriad ways.

For more information or to make a donation, please contact Steve Kowal, our Development Director at makingadifference@princethorpe.co.uk

Together, we can do so much. Let's make it possible.

Foundation News

Crackley Hall Celebrates St Joseph's Day

Crackley Hall celebrated the Feast of St Joseph on Tuesday 19 March. Alongside Father Kevin, pupils from Junior 5 led the readings and bidding prayers as we celebrated our school saint. We reflected on the history of the school and thought about the life of St Joseph, whose trade was to shape, build and create. During the Homily, Fr Kevin talked about the many people who look to St Joseph for inspiration and reflected that just as God makes a difference to our lives, St Joseph tried to do that too.

The Mass concluded with four of the seven pupils being congratulated on making their first Reconciliation in preparation for their First Holy Communion, and we were delighted to be able to welcome a small number of Old St Joseph Convent School pupils and staff to the mass.

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Pupils And Parents Flock To The Hunt's Bookshop Book Fair

The Hunt’s Bookshop Book Fair visited Crescent School recently, causing much excitement for us all. The trolleys of brightly coloured jackets and bold titles catching the interest and imagination of all who walked past.

Hunt’s Bookshop is a local Rugby, family run, independent book shop, and we were delighted to partner with them to host the book fair. In fact, Hunt’s Bookshop even has an Old Crescentian amongst them, as Dominic is a former pupil of the school.

The book fair was very popular, as there really is nothing like the sight, feel and smell of a new book. Every class had the chance to visit the fair with their teacher during their lessons. They were able explore the selection of books on offer and no one had a problem finding one they wanted to buy. 

Thank you to Hunt's Bookshop for helping us to host the fair, it was great to partner with you, especially as all the sales help provide the school with the opportunity to purchase some lovely new books.

Goodbye To Mrs Morley And Mrs Shallcross

At the end of the Lent Term, staff and pupils at Crescent School said a fond farewell to two very much-loved members of staff. Registrar, Mrs Helen Morley, and Dinner Lady, Mrs Lesley Shallcross were both retiring after together accruing over 50 years of dedicated service at Crescent School.

Mrs Morley joined the Crescent back in 1998 and over the years has worked for four headteachers, first as school secretary, then PA to the Head, Bursar and finally as Registrar. She has been a terrific servant to the school for such a long time, supporting the senior leadership with her invaluable school knowledge, common sense and good advice, dealing with plenty of challenges and demands along the way, always with good humour.

As a member of the support staff, her contributions to the success of the school will have often gone unnoticed and yet behind the scenes, she has been the backbone to the school. Her work has supported all our pupils and parents as they pass through the school. Known for her incredible style, daily walks and love of a good roast dinner, she will be much missed by all.

Former Headmaster, Huw Marshall, comments, “As a Head one needs colleagues around you who you can trust completely to do a good job with common sense, honesty, integrity and loyalty. I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague that Helen Morley. It was a great pleasure to work with her and I wish her every happiness for her well-deserved retirement.”

Headmaster, Joe Thackway adds, “Helen’s positivity and hard work will be greatly missed. She has shown great commitment to the school, which together with her versatility and well organised approach has made her a much-valued member of the Crescent team. Her contributions have made a lasting impact, and her presence will be much missed.”

Then after serving up thousands of school dinners, Mrs Lesley Shallcross is also moving on. Another dedicated school servant, she has worked at Crescent in different capacities over the last 30 years, most recently in the kitchen. Known as a kind and wise soul, the care and attention she has generously lavished on all has made her much loved by children and staff.

Joe Thackway, continued, “Mrs Shallcross has been a wonderful member of our school community supporting generations of children who have passed through the school. She has always had such a calm and well-rounded disposition; she loves the children, and they all love her. We thank her for all her hard work and wish her every happiness in her retirement.”

Chair of Trustees, Liz Griffin, presented Mrs Morley and Mrs Shallcross with flowers, cards and gifts from us all here at Crescent School earlier this week at the Spring Concert. They leave with the very best wishes of the whole Crescent community and heartfelt thanks for everything they have done during their time here at Crescent School.

Current Foundation Employment Opportunities

The Foundation often has vacancies that Old Princethorpians may be interested in.

Amongst others, we are currently advertising for an Events Co-ordinator to work as part of our new Commercial Enterprises team.

Full details on all the roles available and on how to apply are available on our website here.

Please do share this information with anyone you think might be interested.



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 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.

Keep a watch out for our 2024-2025 calendar which will be published during the summer holidays.

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.

Princethorpe Wigley Group National Schools And Riding Clubs Two Day Event

Saturday 25 May to Sunday 26 May 2024

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

This year's event includes classes at 70cm, 80cm, 90cm and 100cm for schools and riding club teams. classes. The best performing school will be awarded the Wigley Cup and ISA member school teams will also compete for ISA rosettes.

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

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 Open Events And Year 5 Taster Days

Open Evening - Wednesday 5 June 2024 - 6.30pm to 8.30pm

The College's annual Summer Open Evening will take place on Wednesday 5 June from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. This is a perfect opportunity for prospective families looking for a place in September 2025 and beyond to visit the school, for children to take part in departmental activities and for parents to meet and chat to members of staff and pupils.

The Headmaster, Grove du Toit, will also address visitors during the evening. Light refreshments will be available.

Please click here to book your place. 

Year 5 Taster Day - Tuesday 11 June 2024

Our Year 5 Taster Days are a great opportunity for pupils who are currently in Year 5 and are interested in joining Princethorpe in September 2025. 

The days run from 9.30am to 3.00pm and typically involve four lessons, a question and answer session with some of our current pupils and the chance to talk to the Headmaster, Mr du Toit. Snacks and lunch are provided and there is no charge for the day.

Please click here to book your place. 

We also have Year 6 Taster Days available in September 2024 for those who have not already attended a Year 5 Taster Day. To book your place on a Year 6 Taster Day click here.

Open Afternoon - Sunday 15 September - 2.00pm to 5.00pm

The College Open Afternoon will take place on Sunday 15 September 2024 from 2.00pm to 5.00pm and will be a great opportunity for prospective pupils and families to hear a welcome address from Grove du Toit, the Headmaster, meet members of staff and pupils, take part in activities around the different departments and tour the school and grounds. 

Booking will open shortly after the Summer Open Evening. 

Those wishing to register for Entrance Examinations should do so by the deadline of Friday 27 September 2024 to facilitate the gathering of references from primary schools. You can now complete your Registration form online by clicking here.

Entrance Examinations for Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 will take place on Saturday 9 November 2024 from 9.30am to 3.30pm. More information is available in our 2025 Admissions and Entrance Examinations Booklet available on our website, click here.

Princethorpe College Summer Art, Photography And Design 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 and Design work will take place in the Sixth Form Centre 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 available.

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

Now fully booked - Join the waiting group!

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. 

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. 

The event is now fully booked, however sometimes spaces do become available so if you would like to be added to the waiting group please, email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.

PTA Summer Fête 2024

Sunday 30 June 2024 - 2.00pm to 4.30pm

We are pleased to confirm that this year's PTA Summer Fête will take place on Sunday 30 June 2024 in the Orchard between 2.00pm and 4.30pm.

There will be the usual array of stalls including our school supported charity stalls; countless fun games and activities. We'll be firing up the BBQ and for those of you who find days like this thirsty work we'll be providing an array of drinks in the refreshment tent.

All are most welcome - please do add the date to your calendar. 


College Motoring Festival

Sunday 30 June 2024 - 11.00am and 2.00pm to 4.30pm

The Motoring Festival coincides with the College 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 Wednesday 29 May 2024 and there are awards for self-judged competitions.

The Motoring Festival is open to anyone keen to bring any sort of classic, vintage, veteran or interesting vehicle along for the afternoon. Motor clubs are most welcome too.

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

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. 

OPs vs College Sports Day 2024

Saturday 31 August 2024 - 10.30am to 4.30pm

We are gearing up for the 13th annual Old Princethorpians vs College Sports Day (and 15th John Shinkwin Trophy Match) on Saturday 31 August 2024. 

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:

  • 10.30am to 11.30am Football OPs vs Staff
  • 11.30am to 12.30pm Hockey Princethorpe College Mixed Team vs OPs XI
  • 12.30pm to 1.30pm Netball Princethorpe College 1st VII Girls vs OPs VII
  • 1.45pm to 3.15pm Rugby - John Shinkwin Trophy - Princethorpe College 1st XV Boys vs OPs XV (leavers of 2024 and 2023)
  • 3.30pm - After Match Awards by the BBQ

We are keen to get as many leavers of 2024 and OPs from across the generations participating. If you are interested in playing in any of the sports please complete the short online form here asap or by Tuesday 27 August at the latest. 


St Mary's Priory VSOPs Reunion 2024

Saturday 7 September 2024 - 10.30am to 4.30pm

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 fondly referred to as Very Special Old Princethorpians, or VSOPs for short. 

This special reunion will take place on Saturday 7 September, and we look forward to welcoming the group back to the College. The VSOPs will be enjoying the opportunity to meet up with treasured friends, reminisce about their time at the Priory with the help of artefacts collated by our Archivist, Jo Wong, explore how the site has changed over the years, and participate in a special Mass conducted by Father Teddy O'Brien MSC. It promises to be a wonderful occasion.

If you are interested in attending or know someone who would like to, please get in touch with Caroline Spencer at carolinespencer@princethorpe.co.uk or register at Princethorpe Connect here.

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Heritage Open Day At Princethorpe

Sunday 8 September 2024 - 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 8 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 8 September from 2.00pm - 4.30pm. Watch Princethorpe Connect and the College and OP Facebook pages for more information closer to the event date.


Crackley Hall School And Little Crackers Nursery Open Evening

Thursday 26 September 2024 - 6.00pm to 8.00pm

Crackley Hall School and Little Crackers Nursery, Princethorpe's prep school and nursery in Kenilworth, is having a specific Nursery, Reception and Year 3 Open Evening on Thursday 26 September from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. Parents are being encouraged to apply now for places in Reception in 2025.

This is an opportunity for parents and children looking for a Nursery, Reception or Year 3 place for September 2025, to look around the Nursery and the Reception and Year 3 class and to meet and talk informally to staff. There will be a short presentation at the beginning of the evening and light refresments will be available.

We have had unprecedented interested in Reception and Year 3 for September 2024 and are now operating waiting groups. However, we are still accepting registrations for Nursery, Year 1 and 4 for September 2024. We are also now taking registrations for Nursery and for Reception for September 2025 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 Registrar, 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.

OPs London Meet 2024

Friday 27 September 2024 - 6.00pm to 10.30pm - The Clachan, 34 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5QH

This year, our OPs London Meet will take place on Friday 27 September in the upstairs function room at The Clachan. Described as 'your local pub in London', The Clachan is perfectly located on Kingly Street, a little street behind the iconic Libertys, just off Regent Street, and only a brief stroll to the likes of Carnaby Street, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and the ever bustling Soho.  

The OPs Commitee will be laying on some delicious, complimentary food and of course a welcome drink or two for all those attending. Our London Meets are always popular, sociable affairs, with OPs from across the generations mixing and networking happily together.

We would love to see you there, so if you would like to attend please RSVP via this link by Friday 20 September 2024, or for further information please feel free to email Caroline Spencer (Alumni Relations and Development Officer) at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk.

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Crescent School Reception And Year 3 Open Evening

Tuesday 1 October 2023 - 6.30pm - 7.30pm

The Crescent School, Princethorpe's prep school in Rugby, is opening its doors to prospective parents and children for a dedicated Reception and Year 3 Open Evening on Tuesday 1 October from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

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 about Reception or Year 3 as well as tour the school, visit the Reception and Year 3 classrooms, see the facilities and meet staff.

We are now taking registrations for places in Reception and Year 3 starting in September 2025 but still have a few places available in Year 4 for entry this September 2024. In other year groups we have waiting groups, speak to our Registrar, Mrs Becky Witcomb 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 Becky Witcomb 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.

Old Princethorpian Interview

Richard Sanderson

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

It's tricky to give a straightforward answer! I'm an actor and filmmaker with a small film production company that I run with my wife. We've been based in Los Angeles since 2012 but have recently found more opportunities in Texas as well as back in Europe. I've never been very good at settling in one place so I'm lucky to be able to travel so much. 

Age: ...is just a number. And when I look at what's written in my passport I'm certain there's been a terrible mistake made with that number! 

When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to?


What was the school like in your day?

When I recently returned, for the first time in approximately 23 years, the school seemed quite different on the surface. But I didn't have to squint much to visualise the portacabins in place of the shiny new Sixth Form Block, or the Photography dark-room and Physics lab underneath the new Drama studio. I didn't have to wrinkle my nose much to recall the smell of the liver and onions we were served once a month in the refectory, or the cloud of cigarette smoke coming from the staff room...or the gas works, where us cool kids could be found! 

I think it felt a lot more testosterone-fuelled back then too. I was surrounded by other smelly boys for most of my time there, praying I'd make it to Sixth Form and have some more attractive schoolmates to look at! When I finally arrived in Lower Sixth, GIRLS started to be introduced in all the year groups I'd left behind! I rolled my eyes pretty hard at that but it was probably for the best...

How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

I wasn't very academic or sporty but the two places I found myself happiest at school were the Photographic Society (with Mr Darkes) and the Theatre Studies/Performing Arts programs (with Rosie Neal). All of those groundings and skills are a huge part of everything I do today.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Oh boy, so much! 

Don't wait for anyone to blow a whistle - the race has already started! 

All the cliches about how quickly time flies past are true. Even if you can't feel it yet. 

Learn foreign languages...the world is much bigger than Warwickshire. And France is actually quite nice!

Keep a diary. Because your memory is not as good as you think it is! 

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

If I hadn't met my wife whilst working at Warwick Castle in 2004, I'd probably still be there, probably wearing tights. 

What keeps you awake at night?

I can easily work late into the night if I'm preparing for a job or production, writing or learning lines. Otherwise I put on whatever conspiracy theory podcast I can find and I'm out like a light! 

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

I had a role in the movie Dunkirk. That was pretty amazing in itself but I was quite proud when Christopher Nolan tapped me on the shoulder in a cafe in Hollywood a few months after filming had wrapped and told me he was putting one of my scenes in the trailer. I've been dining out on that story ever since.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

I have to admit I'm a sucker for most conspiracy theories these days.

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

The more I travel the world, the more I love an Indian curry from Warwick Spice.

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

I'm pretty happy to be most places where the sun is shining and I have my Mrs and dogs by my side.

Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

Hanging out with a rag-tag bunch of misfits, getting in trouble and definitely never exploring any of the tunnels or hidden doors or tower at all, ever! And never skiving off games to climb trees around The Mile Walk. 

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

A few of those misfits for sure. Joseph King, Tim Donnelly, Guy Illing, Danny Leary, Ed Creyton. 

Is there anyone you would like to track down?

I'd love to hear from my old Buddy, Bill Barrett!

Births, Deaths & Marriages

Baby Joy For Toby and Emma

Congratulations to Toby Harper Lawrence (Class of 2014) and his wife Emma on the safe arrival of their first child, a son, George.

George was born on Friday 29 March, weighing in at healthy 8lb 10oz.

It's wonderful to hear that both mum and baby are doing well and they are all enjoying this new stage of their lives.


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RIP Adam Murphy

We were very sad indeed to hear the news that OP Adam Murphy, a Year 11 leaver of 2004, died unexpectedly in his sleep aged 35 on Monday 18 March.

Adam, who previously lived in Wellesbourne, and then latterly in Cheltenham, had gone on to graduate from Lincoln University after leaving Princethorpe.

Adam's funeral service took place on Friday 19 April and was followed by a wake Moreton Morell Village Hall.

Our sincere condolences go out to all of Adam's family and his friends.


Emilie and Mark Tie The Knot At Princethorpe

Emilie Reszka (Class of 2012) married her fiance Mark Appleton at the College on a sunny day back in February, she takes up the story.

Mark and I got married on the 12th February this year and we feel so fortunate to have had a beautiful ceremony at Princethorpe and an amazing reception at Bourton Hall. We had such a wonderful day celebrating with loved ones and the lovely winter sun topped it all off.

We met at university 10 years ago, and our wedding date was picked as it coincided with this milestone. Our relationship has been marked with periods of long distance, first there was my year abroad in Latin America, then after university our graduate jobs meant that Mark was pulled up to Cumbria whilst I relocated to Surrey. Recently we have settled back in the Leamington area but knowing how far we’ve come made our wedding day all the sweeter for us.

Currently we’re living in Leamington and Mark works as a project manager for the national nuclear laboratory whilst I work as a business analyst for Siemens digital industries software.

We wish Emilie and Mark every happiness together.

A Love That Weathers The Storm

Huge congratulations to Nico McKenzie (Class of 2011), on his marriage to Victoria Shaw in Georgham, Devon, on Wednesday 10 April.

Nico was supported by fellow OPs Danny McNamara and Hugo Fulford, and his brother Tom.

Proud mum and current Princethorpe staff member, Amanda, said: “The weather was dramatic but the Easter gales and rain just added to the drama of the day. Their reception was on a clifftop in Croyde and somehow the marquee stayed on his grandparents' lawn despite Storm Kathleen's best efforts to remove it! Good fun was had by all.”

Nico is Digital Manager for the United Rugby Championship (URC) and Victoria is an Early Years Teacher at Hanwell Fields community School in Banbury. As the wedding took place at the end of the Easter Holidays, the honeymoon has been delayed until the next school holiday. The few days they had between the wedding and the start of the Trinity Term was spent decorating their new home, which they became proud owners of the week before their wedding.

We wish Nico and Victoria a life full of sunshine and the happiest of futures together!

Childhood Sweethearts' Destination Wedding

Congratulations to Old Princethorpian Lawrence Baker (Class of 2015), who married his childhood sweetheart, Eiron, on Friday 10 May.

Lawrence and Eiron met 12 years ago whilst Lawrence was a student at Princethorpe and have been together as a couple for five and a half years. In 2023, Lawrence proposed whilst on a Young Farmers' ski trip in La Plagne, and, opting for a destination wedding also, they tied the knot in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The proud groom commented: "The sun shined on our wedding day, and we were surrounded by 26 of our close family and friends. We are now in the process of organising our wedding party on our family farm, Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex, for all our friends and family to celebrate with us."

Thank you for sharing your news with us and we wish you every happiness in your future together.

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Former Head Boy Heads Into Marriage Supported By An Entourage Of OPs

Congratulations to Old Princethorpian and former Head Boy Chris Bond (Class of 2017), who married Melissa Morrison on Saturday 18 May at the beautiful Fitzleroi Barn in West Sussex.

Chris and Melissa met whilst studying at Exeter University and were friends for several years before becoming a couple.

They were delighted to welcome fellow OPs Tom Fletcher, Lucy Tallis, Carmen Simpson, Greg Higginson, Dan Lane and James Simpson, along with Chris' brothers Charlie and Nick Bond. If you look closely you will even see two Old Princethorpian ties! The weather was kind and the day was a wonderful celebration with 100 family and friends. 

Chris and Melissa live in Hampshire with their golden retriever Marty, who stole many hearts at the wedding. We wish them every blessing as they begin their married life together.

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Donal Celebrates His 60th Anniversary

We were delighted to hear that Donal Murphy, who worked as a groundsman here at Princethorpe College for many years (from the 1970s until February 2003) recently celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife May.

We managed to find a photo of Donal back in the early 2000s modelling the Estates uniform alongside Gerry Lovely and Gerry Reis.

I am sure you will all join us in wishing Donal and May a very happy anniversary. We wish them many more years of love and good health together.



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Memory Bank

Celebrating 52 Wonderful Years: Alex Darkes’ Retirement Interview

After his incredible track record of 52 years at Princethorpe, Alex Darkes – in true teacher style – set us all a challenge. He didn’t want a fuss made over his retirement, he said; he was happier just heading off quietly.

What to do? Of course we were going to respect his decision, but at the same time it was unimaginable that we could let the occasion pass without celebrating his wonderful career and contribution to the Foundation – not to mention the huge amount of affection for him across the whole Princethorpe community.

So brains started ticking, furtive conversations took place and plans were hatched. As you will already have seen, the naming of the Alex Darkes Physics Laboratory provided a very fitting celebration both of his teaching years, during which he had inspired so many budding scientists, and of his central role in developing the new Science Centre. It also came as a wonderful surprise to Alex, thanks to some cunning cover-up work by all involved!

Knowing Alex’s love of the College’s history and his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Princethorpe, we were also very keen to record an interview with him so that we could add his memories to our oral history archives. By inviting students and staff both past and present to submit questions for the interview, I hoped that we could provide a fun trip down memory lane for Alex, as well as enabling the whole Princethorpe community to share in this occasion with him. And we had a fantastic response, with questions and well wishes sent in by Princethorpians from every decade – it certainly was a tricky task to make the final selection!

As the day of the interview drew nearer, I have to admit that the responsibility of interviewing a true Princethorpe legend on behalf of the whole community did start to sink in slightly. But I needn’t have worried – Alex was of course the perfect interviewee, and it was a real pleasure to be able to put so many of your wonderful questions to him. All messages that were sent in were also forwarded to Alex after the interview, and he was delighted to read all your kind words.

The interview recording can be found at https://vimeo.com/941545880/b9c0736f67 and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it! Thank you so much to everyone who sent in questions, messages and memories for us to share with Alex – and of course to all of you for helping us to keep the plans top secret until the day.

Following his retirement, Alex has kindly agreed to take on the voluntary role of Archivist Emeritus, and I very much hope we will have the chance to chat about some more of his wonderful Princethorpe memories before too long – watch this space!

Correspondence Gives New Perspective on Princethorpe’s Past

Since starting in post as Foundation Archivist last term, I have been busy immersing myself in the fascinating histories of our schools. One of the points I have found particularly interesting in Princethorpe’s past is its transition from St Mary’s Priory to Princethorpe College in 1965-6. Having been home to an enclosed order of Benedictine nuns for 130 years, its transformation to a boys’ boarding and day school run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) marked the beginning of a new era in its history.

Although I knew that the College has long treasured its links with the Benedictine nuns and had been honoured to welcome several of them back for visits over the years, in my mind these two periods in the school’s past were quite separate. Of course, we have the extremely evocative photographs (see gallery) of the handover taking place between the St Mary’s Priory community and the MSC priests on the day of the nuns’ departure, but these seemed to be capturing a fleeting moment in time. The nuns left for their new home at Fernham, bidding farewell to the beautiful Priory which had been founded and cared for by their community for so many years; the MSCs remained to guide it safely into its new era and towards further exciting developments in the future.

I was therefore fascinated to find, held safely in our correspondence collections, a telegram from the Fernham community addressed to ‘Rev Father Superior and Community, Princethorpe College, Rugby’, wishing them ‘every success and blessing’. Although the telegram itself is undated, the letter of response held in the same file indicates that it had been sent to wish the MSCs well for the opening of Princethorpe College in September 1966. The telegram’s ‘glorious technicolour’ illustrations would certainly seem to date it around that time too! (see gallery for images of the telegrams)

The letter sent in reply to the Mother Prioress by Father John Kevin Fleming MSC, Princethorpe College’s first Headmaster, is both a wonderful source of information on the early days of the College, and touching proof of the great regard the Princethorpe MSCs and Fernham community had for each other. Father Fleming recounts his discussions with parents at the College’s Open Days which took place in late September: ‘Again and again I repeated “We have […] to thank the good Sisters who were here before us for all this.” ‘ (see gallery for copies of the letters)

Father Fleming’s letter also refers to the fact that the two communities have continued to pray for each other, and mentions his correspondence with Mother Walburga and Mother Scholastica at Fernham. Signing off, he asks Mother Prioress to ‘kindly remember me to Mother Procurator and all the good Sisters, and if we can be of any help at any time, please do not hesitate to let me know’.

This correspondence, bridging the two main eras of Princethorpe’s history, gives a real sense of the warmth, kindness, mutual respect and continuity of purpose which still infuse the Princethorpe ethos today. As a Foundation we have a strong sense of our wonderful heritage, and very much continue to thank those who were here before us, even as we look ahead to the future.

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A Fire Safety Visit Sparks Some New Research

While working in the archives strongroom over the Easter break, I was surprised to hear a knock at the door (an unusual occurrence in the holidays!) It turned out to be a specialist fire extinguisher engineer, who was in school for a routine visit to service all the extinguishers on site.

While he was there, I took the opportunity to ask him about a slightly more unusual fire extinguisher in our collections. This conical extinguisher, labelled ‘Minimax’, is one of the fascinating artefacts we hold in our strongroom, but unfortunately we have no information relating to it other than the details on the label. The engineer confirmed my estimate that it dated from c. 1930s – 1950s, and was so interested by it that he took a photo to share with his colleagues back at the office!

Once back at my desk, a little further research on the Minimax brand provided some additional details. Minimax Limited was founded in London in 1903 and quickly became very well-established; it even supplied fire extinguishers to King Edward VII for protection of his motor car. In 1911 it opened a new factory in Feltham, Middlesex, which became a local landmark thanks to its Art Deco design (the factory’s location details are just visible near the bottom of our extinguisher’s label).

You can see images of the Minimas fire extinguisher and its label in the galerry.

The conical design was unique to the Minimax firm, but it certainly would have been a familiar sight in the early part of the 20th century: initially producing over 1000 extinguishers a month from its Feltham site, Minimax’s production levels rose even more sharply during World War I. Minimax was purchased by The Pyrene Company Ltd in 1955, but several of its extinguishers – like ours – have survived the decades, with some still on display in National Trust properties.

From this confirmation of the dates, it seems very likely that our Minimax has been here since the days of St Mary’s Priory. Fire protection would have been of great importance for the Priory’s inhabitants, since for many years it was lit by acetylene gas which was highly flammable; electricity was not installed in the buildings until 1953.

In the gallery you can see an image of St Mary’s Priory gas works, where the acetylene gas was produced, c. late 19th century

As well as helping to date the fire extinguisher, the engineer was also able to confirm that it was very much decommissioned and empty – and therefore no chance of any leaks in the strongroom – which was reassuring news to an archivist’s ears!

If you would like to know more about any of the items held in our collections, or if you have any items from your time at school that you would like to donate to the Foundation Archives, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at archives@princethorpe.co.uk.

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Princethorpe Foundation Archives X Account Returns!

If you are an X (formerly Twitter) user, you may be interested to know that the Princethorpe Foundation Archives X account is back in action! Follow us at @PFdn_Archives for updates on what’s happening in the archives, and some wonderful photos and stories from our collections.

Earlier this month on @PFdn_Archives, we posted a photo of Princethorpe’s very own outdoor swimming pool which was in use from the late 1960s into the 1970s. Were you one of the ‘lucky’ students who got to experience its bracing temperatures? Feel free to comment on our X post to share your memories!

You can find the post at https://twitter.com/PFdn_Archives/status/1788874533220270451

Hidden Detail Spotted in Quad Brickwork

In recent months, our hardworking Estates team have been busy carrying out maintenance work on the exterior brickwork in the Quad. While doing so, eagle-eyed Senior Technician Dekk Brain spotted a detail which gives us another glimpse into Princethorpe’s history!

If you look carefully at Dekk’s photograph, just above the centre you may be able to see the perfect imprint of an ear of wheat in the brick. This detail takes us right back into Princethorpe’s past, since we know that these bricks date from the early 1830s, when the first building work took place at St Mary’s Priory.

Thanks to Princethorpe’s clay-rich soil, the bricks for these earliest buildings were created onsite: the clay was dug from the fields in the north of the estate, known as Wood Close and Wood Wallis, and the bricks were then fired in Brick Kiln Close. All the digging also contributed to another key feature in Princethorpe’s landscape, as the resulting hole in the ground subsequently filled with water and became what we now know as Switzerland.

We can safely guess that this particular brick was fired around harvest time – and given that it is located halfway up the building (at Lower Pugin level), the St Mary’s Priory labourers probably thought nobody would ever spot the wheat imprint all the way up there!

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1960s Prospectus Donated To The Archives

We are always grateful when Old Princethorpians send us archive material to add to our collection and were delighted when Adrian Charlton (Class of 1973) came up with the goods in the shape of a St Bede’s and Princethorpe College prospectus dating from the late 1960s. He had found the prospectus while sorting through his parents’ papers. The booklet was in excellent condition and has been passed onto our new archivist, Jo Wong, for safe keeping.

Its arrival was timely, as this year we have been celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Jules Chevalier, the founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the order of priests who ran St Bede’s and then Princethorpe up until the late 1990s. We have marked the occasion within school in a variety of different ways, including a display of archive material focusing on the MSCs longstanding connection with the College.

The old prospectus includes wonderful descriptions of the settings of both schools, it touches on the education provided, health and diet, physical training, the uniform and sportwear required. Admissions arrangements and vacation weeks are outlined and the Princethorpe fees are stated as 35 guineas per term for day pupils and 85 guineas for full boarders.

A huge thank you to Adrian for thinking of us and if like him, you are having a sort out and find anything you would like to share, do please get in touch, we can copy and return originals to you or add them to our archive if you are happy for us to do so. If you have any queries our archivist, Jo Wong, can be contacted at archives@princethorpe.co.uk.

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OP Updates

To Beach Or Not To Beach?: Very Special Old Princethorpian Releases New Book

To Beach Or Not to Beach? Is the very good question raised by VSOP, Mary Wheildon, in her first book of the same title published this June.

Mary is renowned for her adventurous and energetic spirit and her love of travel. The book is full of tongue-in-cheek tales from her lifetime of travels, as well as fascinating insights into the challenges, catastrophes and lessons learnt along the way.

Mary studied at Princethorpe from 1956-1961 when it was still St. Mary's Priory under the care of the Benedictine nuns. She has remained an active life-long member of the community, still serving today on the OP Committee and helping others to maintain their sense of connection to the school.

With an enquiring mind, and a profound love of flora and fauna, Mary rarely travels alone, resulting in itineraries that have enabled her to trek through jungles, cross lakes in dugout canoes and travel by skidoo across the ‘Land of Nothing’ behind the migrating reindeer of the Sámi! Highlights and challenges are also part of 'expedition life', from witnessing the 5th King’s Coronation in Bhutan to being dumped at a remote airport hours from the intended destination.

In her book, Mary invites us to share the music, customs and environments of multiple regions. She also details the orphanages and hospitals that she has encountered, including Mother Teresa’s. By the end, the reader will be much wiser about the less-frequented corners of the world.

If you would like to secure a signed copy of Mary's fascinating book before they fly off the shelves, please email us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk and we can put you in touch with her. 

The cost of the book is £20, with £2.05 of that going straight to a charity close to Mary's and Princethorpe's heart, Mary's Meals.

OP Joseph Guest-Bourne Soon To Make His Boxing Professional Debut

Old Princethorpian, Joseph Guest-Bourne (Class of 2015) shares his story of how sports changed the trajectory of his life for the better. 

"Despite it now being my career, boxing was something I sort of fell into, regardless of my dreams of becoming a professional athlete. I first became interested in the sport after competing for Great Britain in Japan at the World Benchpress Games. I was 25 stone, unhealthy and unhappy. I’ve had issues with my weight growing up and was unable to shift any without a goal.

Four and a half years ago, I signed up to a charity boxing match and after winning the bout I went to the local nightclub. I was met by the bouncer who convinced me to continue boxing and join his gym. This bouncer, Edwin Cleary, is now my manager and coach, and he has helped change my life.

I’ve always loved sport, but never been the most talented at it, so I’ve always given 100% in every division I’ve competed in and managed to get to the top. I represented Bedford Blue’s U23 Rugby team at the age of seventeen, before multiple knee operations brought that to an end. I bench pressed over 200kg for Great Britain as a Junior competitor; the peak that the sport can reach.

Rugby was actually my dream career. When I was fourteen I told myself I’d be a professional athlete in the future, and I haven’t stopped working towards that goal. Thirteen years later, I can finally say I’ve done it. Doubts from within myself, the people around me, anger and poor mental health have impacted this journey over the past four years, so I advise anyone who is struggling mentally to walk into any sort of gym or get involved in a sport. Because of how sport has shaped my life, I’m now in talks to sign with a big promoter over the next upcoming months and have my professional Boxing debut. The next few years will prove that determination can get you there, and I’ll be able to look back and be proud of what I have achieved.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Joseph. We wish you success with your Boxing debut and your future career.

OP Jim Lowe Is Walking The South West Coastal Path For The MDNA

OP Jim Lowe (Class of 2013) is taking on the challenge of the South West Costal Path this August walking 630 miles from Minehead to Poole in 29 days. Jim is fundraising for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of his Grandpa John.

Jim has been training hard for his upcoming adventure. He recently roped in two other Old Princethorpians, Ben Pearson and Andrew Partridge, to help him complete the Cyril Bean Annual Coventry Way Challenge of walking 40 miles in just one day.

You can find out more about Jim’s challenge and donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/jim-lowe-1693948672552

And you can follow his progress on his Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/jim_walks4mnda

We wish the very best of luck to Jim!

Clearly Not Winging It: Class Of ‘84 Head Boy Still Leads By Example

Jeremy Masding, who was a pupil at Princethorpe College from 1980-1984, showed great aptitude for leadership even at a young age, serving as Head Boy in his final year. Fast-forward forty years and it is clear this leadership potential has really flourished; one could say that he ‘wrote the book on it’, because in fact, along with his co-author Emil Ivanov, he did!

His book Leading Without Winging It: A Guide To Navigating 30 Timeless Leadership Issues is described as ‘a must read for all existing and aspiring leaders, general managers, and CEOs’. It serves as a practitioner’s guide to leading a business that significantly reduces the number of times one has to ‘wing it’, aiming to show aspiring CEOs and general managers how to maximise the sustainable value of their businesses by realising the potential of good people, good thinking and good doing.

Self-published in January 2024, reviews have hailed it as ‘the best book on management’, ‘a masterful guide’ and ‘a roadmap for sustained success’, amongst other inspiring accolades, so by all accounts it looks set to fly off the shelves!

We asked Jeremy to explain the motivation and background for writing the book:

“To be frank, ‘Winging it’ is just not a sustainable approach to leadership as team members will see straight through this at any level of an organisation. Being a leader means that there is nowhere to hide. Everything you do is out in the open. You can try winging it, but sooner or later, you will be found out. I wanted to try and help people make better decisions, take the right actions, and, critically, do so in a way that is underpinned by personal integrity, compassionate candour and without a blinding ego. Having observed, experimented, failed, and succeeded many times in the past, I hope that I understand what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ looks like in terms of setting strategy, engaging colleagues, building supporting systems and processes, and holding each other to account. In summary, it was the privilege of leading that inspired me to write the book.”

Jeremy has clearly been motivated to learn from his own experiences and to help others by sharing his acquired wisdom and insights; currently serving as a Senior Adviser at Cerberus Capital Management, and he was previously Group CEO of PTSB, a leading Irish bank that was nationalised after the global financial crisis.

Seemingly though, these driving forces have always been evident in his character, as his old Economics teacher, Peter Griffin recalls:

“The spring term of 1983 was my first as Deputy Head and I was heavily involved in the appointment of the Prefect Body. Jeremy, then in Lower Sixth, stood out as having outstanding leadership qualities and was a natural choice for the position of Head Boy for 1983-84. He certainly took his responsibilities very seriously and was fully committed to the role, whilst remaining popular with his peers. He managed to combine this role whilst continuing to work hard at his studies. My recollection is that Jeremy was hard working, very keen to improve and always took on board any advice. I’m sure these qualities served him well in his career and I wish him every success with his book.”

Jeremy, we wish you every success with the book and your future endeavours.

(The book can be purchased on Amazon and other leading online book websites.)

Spanish OP Brothers Return To Walk The Halls With Their Former Teacher

On Wednesday 22 May, Princethorpe was pleased to welcome two of three Spanish brothers who were boarders at Princethorpe in late 1980s/early 1990s. For Jose, this was not his first visit since leaving the college. He has made his home in South London and so is keen to pop in when work allows, and in 2019 was able to bring his elder brother, Juan, and their families to enjoy a trip down memory lane and provide some visual context for his children of the tales he tells them about his time here.

For Javier, the youngest brother, it was his first visit in well over a decade. He currently resides in Valencia and is an AI, Automation and Machine Vision consultant. He also cares for his mother, who incidentally was the driving force behind the boys coming to Princethorpe. She wanted them to study in the UK and profit from the well-known English education, having lived in London herself for a few years. She later progressed to an official English professor role in Valencia, Spain.

Jose and Javier were greeted upon their arrival by their former Economics teacher, and former Deputy Head, Peter Griffin. Peter is still an active member of the school community, serving on the Old Princethorpians Committee and giving his time generously to support the school's activity.

The group took a delightfully thorough stroll through the school, visiting what used to be their old bedrooms on the Upper Pugin corridor, the refectory, the chapel, and pointing out the secret places students used to hide for a cheeky cigarette. They enjoyed spotting themselves and other familiar faces in the school photos along the Cloisters corridor, and were impressed by the new Science Centre. Jose particularly enjoyed the display there of the components of an Electric Vehicle, as he currently heads up the UK departments of Gamma Solutions & Energy, Wenea, Diggia Group, and is Founder Director of Plenol Ltd.

It was an absolute pleasure to enable these OPs to share stories and explore their old school, which, as boarders, made a huge impact on their lives.

We enjoy welcoming all OPs so please do feel free to contact us at oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk, ideally with a little notice, if you would like to come and see the school, so that we can ensure you have an enjoyable, comfortable and memorable visit.

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Toby Lee Supports Jools Holland At Warwick Arts Centre

Former Crackley Hall pupil, and OP, Toby Lee returned to his Prep school on Wednesday 22 May, ahead of his evening performance at Warwick Arts Centre with Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

He met with, Headmaster, Mr Duigan who was delighted to catch up with all his news.

Some of you may remember Toby from his school days at Crackley Hall, when he was cast as the first original Zack Mooneyham in the West End production of School of Rock the Musical.

Toby is currently on a 100 date UK tour – 60 performing with Jools Holland and 40 with his own band. He will even be playing at Glastonbury. You can find out more here.

Laura Baskerville Basks In The Memories Of Her Southeast Asia Adventure

Old Princethorpian Laura Baskerville (Class of 2018), who went on to study Languages and Contemporary European Studies at university, returned to Princethorpe in 2020 to work for a while as a Teaching Assistant. Recently, she has been exploring Southeast Asia and she was keen to share with us her favourite moments:

"While I have been travelling Southeast Asia for 4.5 months now, it feels as though my adventures have lasted both a few years and a matter of seconds. I have made a lifetime of memories yet I can remember each and every one as if it were yesterday. Now that I have all these memories and experiences, one of the most difficult questions people can ask me is: “What has been your favourite place?”. There are simply too many amazing places to choose from! Each being totally unique and incomparable to the last. But, with a bit of effort, I have managed to narrow down my three happiest moments.

1. Ha Giang Loop tour, Vietnam: This tour involved 4 days on the back of a motorcycle, cruising through the Northern Vietnamese mountains. The scenery was utterly spectacular, and no photo can ever do this area justice. My amazing group and our drivers only added to the experience!

2. Getting my Scuba Diving qualification, Thailand: Koh Tao, one of the many islands in Southern Thailand, is the global hub for scuba diving schools. Spending 3 days learning the basics of diving and going for my first few dives in the ocean was incredible! I will always remember how I felt that first time I breathed underwater - it was magical. What’s more, I had the most lovely instructor and diving buddies. It was such an honour to get my certification and now to be forever free to explore the underwater world!

3. Reaching the summit of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia: This beast of a volcano lies in Lombok, an island just east of Bali. Reaching its summit was probably one of the most mentally and physically challenging things I have ever done! But seeing the sun rise over the horizon from the peak was just so, so special. I was above the clouds, in my own little world. I was so proud of myself that day!

If I were now to give one key piece of advice to anyone thinking about picking up a backpack and exploring the world, it would be: treasure every moment; the highs and the lows; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Everything you go through shapes your adventure into a beautifully personalised experience that’s yours to keep. So just ride the waves and enjoy it!"

Beautifully put, Laura. Thank you for sharing your treasured memories and thoughtful insights. We wish you every success in your future endeavours and we're sure your courage and adventurous spirit have inspired us all to embrace the world around us.

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OPs Out In Force At Premier Racing Events

It was great to see racehorse trainer OP Dan Skelton (Class of 2003), who kindly spoke at our recent Vision For Sport dinner, and his brother Harry having so much success at the Cheltenham Festival, the pinnacle event of the jump-racing calendar. Dan and Harry claimed four wins at this year's festival as they took on a dominant Irish contingent. 

Then our alumni were also out in force in this year's Grand National too, with Dan Skelton joined by trainer OP Tom Ellis, who started at Princethorpe back in 1996, to give us two runners to cheer on in the race. They both had great success too, with Dan's horse Galia des Liteaux finishing in 8th place while Tom's horse Latenightpass came home 12th, fabulous results in what is always an incredibly challenging and competitive event.

It was a bit of a family affair for Tom as Latenightpass was bred by his mother, Pippa, out of a mare bought by Tom and his father, Tony (another OP), and ridden by his wife, Gina Andrews. You can read more about Tom's story in an interview that was published in The Telegraph here.


Class Of '71 Keep The Memories Alive

We were delighted to hear about a small social gathering of Princethorpe OPs that took place earlier this month; it is always a joy to hear that relationships forged within the Foundation remain alive and kicking years later. Here are the words of OP Nigel Hall to recount the occasion: 

"Nigel Hall (Pewsey, Wiltshire), Jerry Peacock (Biggin Hill, Kent), Mark Deacon (Praa Sands, Cornwall), and Gary Peacock (Pimperne, Dorset), all joined by their wives - Susie, Stephanie, Sue and Jacqueline - met up for an over-nighter with drinks and dinner at the Lakeside Manor Hotel in Honiton. We thought, 'if they can have an “alumni branch” in Hong Kong, we can have one  outside of Leamington and London too!'

We worked out the last time we were all together was at the Golden Jubilee in 2017, although we have all met up separately on a few occasions since then. Our first meeting as a group was in 2014 in the Seven Stars Inn, Bottlesford. We were all a part of the original Princethorpe pupils from 1967 and left the school between 1970 and 1971 (almost 54 years ago!) I think Gary Peacock left a bit later as he was a few years younger. It was good reminiscing about past experiences, fellow Princethorpe students from across the world, and what we have all been up to since leaving the school. We remembered Nigel was a Boarding Prefect and House Captain (Fisher); both Jerry and Mark were also Boarding Prefects back in the day when the school was a boarding school.

Apart from Gary, we are all retired; Nigel from Business and industry (Sodexo, DTI, TfL), Jerry from the Met Police, and Mark from Automation Engineering & Project Management Consultancy (AEG, AMEC & BAA).

We have made no immediate plans for another reunion as a group, but we will no doubt do so. We are always open to others joining us if they are in the south and wish to expand our group and join us. It is not just about us keeping in touch, as we have done since leaving in the early 1970s, but about keeping the spirit of the family flourishing. Many life-long friendships were made at Princethorpe; long may they continue. 

In the photo attached, from bottom left moving clockwise, the people are: Jacqueline Peacock, Sue Deacon, Jerry Peacock, Stephanie Peacock, Nigel Hall, Susie Hall, Mark Deacon and Gary Peacock."

If you recognise any of the OPs in this story and wish to make contact, or wish to share a story of your own OP reunions, please feel free to email oldprincethorpians@princethorpe.co.uk

Meera Takes On The Race For Life

Meera Chauhan (Class of 2019) has been in touch to share that she, along with other members of her family, completed a 10k Race for Life on Saturday 18 May at Stoneleigh Park.

Meera takes up the story:

With cancer being a cause close to our hearts, my family and I joined forces to participate in a 10k Race for Life for Cancer Research on 18th May 2024 and in competitive spirits, I’m aiming to raise the most! 

I would be really greatful for any contributions from the Princethorpe community in support of our goal to exceed raising £1,000.

If you would like to support Meera, go to her fundraising page here