THE new director at one of the county’s most famous schools is hoping to drive it on to even greater prominence.

Stephen Withnell will become Stonyhurst College’s new director of strategic development in September.

Mr Withnell, an alumnus of the college from the mid-1990s and a current governor of Stonyhurst, is a managing director in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs where he has responsibility for metals and mining clients within the natural resources group.

He will remain a managing director at Goldman Sachs while holding his full-time position at the college.

His appointment brings a unique combination of experience and expertise which will complement the college’s senior management team in delivering its strategic plans.

He said: “I have very happy memories of my time at Stonyhurst and I’m delighted to be coming back up to the Ribble Valley with my young family.

“We like to say that the school prepares people for a life of purpose to go and set the world on fire and really make a difference.

“Every child is interesting and it’s a really healthy and happy place to learn and grow.

“As a governor, I’ve been able to reconnect with the school. The senior management team are an inspirational group of people and I’m delighted to be joining them.”

And Mr Withnell said he would be looking to spread the word far and wide about what he described as “the jewel in the Ribble Valley’s crown.”

“My position is focused on fundraising and making sure Stonyhurst is accessible to as many people as possible.

“The school is already extremely generous with its scholarships and bursaries but we want to make access into the school resource-blind. That’s the ambition.

“But it’s unique in the sense and that as well as having all of this history, we have real treasures in the school, like a First Folio of Shakespeare that the students can touch and use while they are learning about Shakespeare.

“The same goes with the other historical items and treasures the school has. It sets the school apart from other public schools in the country.”

John Browne, headmaster of Stonyhurst College, said: “I am delighted Stephen has chosen to join us at this exciting time in the development of the college and St Mary’s Hall.

“Stephen brings to Stonyhurst an outstanding track record at the highest level of international business and governance.

“His experience and relationships will be of enormous value to the college, for example, in advancing our work in fundraising, in international and strategic partnerships and in external relations.

“We look forward to welcoming Stephen, his wife Victoria and their two sons, Henry and George, to Lancashire and to the college.”

Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Stephen worked in the Investment Banking Division of Citigroup Global Markets in London and Hong Kong for four years.

He is also an experienced director and trustee who serves as a governor of Westminster Cathedral Choir School and on the Investment Committee of the British Jesuit Province.

A member of the advisory board of Durham University Business School, he is also a Freeman of the City of London.