Reg Clarke, a former Swindon Mayor and Freeman of the Borough, is only the second Briton to receive the Federal Government of Germany Embassy Award in recognition of outstanding effort to build better relations between the two countries.
Reg, who lives in Pinehurst, was completely taken aback to be presented with the citation at a civic reception held at The Ivy Hotel in Wroughton on 30 September – his 86th birthday – to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Swindon?s twinning with Salzgitter in Germany. (The photo shows the Salzgitter visitors at Lydiard House with the Mayor of Swindon Ray Fisher and keeper of the house, Sarah Finch-Crisp).
When the announcement began, Reg thought he was receiving birthday congratulations. “I was completely taken aback when Max from the embassy read out the award; I couldn?t hold the tears back,” he said.
“It?s wonderful for me personally, but it?s also a recognition that Swindon has such good relations with Salzgitter.”
Former railway worker Reg is known as ?The Locomotive? in Salzgitter having made 48 official and private trips there since 1974. The nickname stuck on one of his early visits when a Mayor of Salzgitter told him he must be the driver of the link between the towns.
He said he became passionate about building a close link with Germany when he became a Swindon councillor. “There had been informal exchanges between the towns for nine years and I really thought there would be such tremendous benefits to people in both towns if we could work more closely together at all levels.
“The award is very pleasing, but I would love to see a lot more young people getting involved and having the desire to develop friendships in Salzgitter.”
Oberb??rgemeister Helmut Kneibel, the Mayor of Salzgitter, congratulated Reg for his efforts. “His work has been very important to the strength of understanding we have between Salzgitter and Swindon. Over thirty years our partnership has become ever deeper. It is something we are very proud of.”
Swindon Mayor Ray Fisher was very pleased that Reg has been recognised. “To be only the second UK citizen to be recognised in this way is a testament to his commitment. Swindon is proud for Reg to build closer relations with the people of Salzgitter.”
The Swindon Salzgitter Twinning Association is keen to involve newcomers in the exchanges between the two towns. For details call John Hamilton on 782628.