After an extended Easter break children returned to school at Nova Hreod on 23 April – into brand new buildings and with a new name.
But on 19 April the mayors of Swindon and its German twin town Salzgitter – Mike Bawden and Frank Klingebiel – planted a tree in the school's quiet garden in memory of former town mayor Reg Clarke, who died on 6 March.
Reg was a school governor for 20 years and chairman for 12. But he will be most remembered for his tireless commitment to building strong twin town relations.
Reg left the Great Western Railway works to go to war and was a veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation. After the conflict ended in 1945 he worked tirelessly to create a peaceful Europe through the Swindon-Salzgitter Twinning Association which he served for thirty years, having being instrumental in setting it up in the early 1970s. He became known as 'The Locomotive' in Salzgitter after a former told him he had to be the driver of the link between the twin towns.
Reg was the only foreigner to receive the Salzgitter Stadtmedallion or town medal and in October 2005 Reg became only the second British citizen to receive an award from the German government for his commitment to better relations between the two countries. The presentation was made at a commemorative dinner in Swindon between officials and councillors from Swindon and Salzgitter, ostensibly to celebrate Reg's 86th birthday. The surprise event brought tears to his eyes.
Over the years Reg and his late wife Mary made 48 official and private trips. Sadly Mary died on a visit to Salzgitter in 1991.
Reg was a member of the Labour Party since childhood and a long serving member of Swindon Corporation and Thamesdown Borough Council. He was Mayor of the town from 1980 to 1981.
New Mayor of Swindon Oberburgermeister Klingebiel said he was proud the Salzgitter delegation to Swindon was able to pay tribute to Reg at the school to which he had such close ties. "He was an outstanding friend whom we held in high esteem; we all miss him."
Nova Hreod headteacher Andrew Fleet told the tribute gathering that Reg had persuaded him to take part in the annual civic visit to Salzgitter in 2001. "I was very impressed by the 3,000 seat concert hall at the city's senior school. Although Swindon Borough Council has been generous in the building of Nova Hreod, I was not able to persuade the architects to provide the same here but we have an huge covered atrium for large gatherings.
"Reg always had a close association with Hreod Parkway and he was looking forward to visiting Nova Hreod when I spoke to him before Christmas. We're all very sorry that he was not able to do so."
The tree plant was one of many events during a four day visit by a delegation of councillors and officials from Salzgitter. It included a ceremony at the Civic Offices to bestow the freedom of the borough on former Salzgitter mayor Rudolf Ruckert in recognition of his services to town twinning.
Pictured above, the mayors of Swindon and its German twin town Salzgitter, Mike Bawden and Frank Klingebiel, with Nova Hreod headteacher Andrew Fleet