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Princethorpe Says Farewell To Mr Darkes

01 May

We said our farewells to, Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes yesterday, 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 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 yesterday 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: https://vimeo.com/941545880/b9c0736f67

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 yesterday 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!


Tagged  2023-2024