Stolen plaque may still be in the town

Noel Ponting outside the site of the former Even Swindon School where his great grandfather Henry Day was headteacher. A plaque dedicated to him has gone missing from the site of the former school

Noel Ponting outside the site of the former Even Swindon School where his great grandfather Henry Day was headteacher. A plaque dedicated to him has gone missing from the site of the former school

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @BerenCross

A RODBOURNE resident may be harbouring the stolen 96-year-old plaque dedicated to Even Swindon School’s first headteacher, according to relative Noel Ponting.

The plaque, which is believed to be made of stone quarried from Old Town Gardens in the early part of the 20th century, was attached to a wall inside the school in Hughes Street.

The former school, which had been vacant since February 2013 after being gutted by fire, was pulled down by Swindon Council in December, though not before thieves broke into the building and stole the plaque.

The memorial is not valuable, but has sentimental value to Noel and his family. And he has reason to believe it may still be somewhere in the surrounding community.

Rodbourne Community History Group has been very helpful in dealing with the plaque, but it has also heard one or two things around the area on what the status of the plaque might be,” said Noel, 55.

“The word is, someone locally has got it and that the publicity surrounding the disappearance has stopped this person from putting it on eBay or selling it on, though it may simply be a rumour.

“There seems to be a vibe in Rodbourne that the plaque is knocking about still.”

Henry Day, Noel’s great-grandfather, was headteacher at the school between 1880 and 1919. It was in his final year that he was presented with the token which celebrated his time at the school.

Estimates from the council put the timeframe for the burglary between mid-November and early December, although it was not reported to police until January of this year.

The plaque reads: “Erected by old scholars on the retirement of Mr H Day. The first headmaster of this school 1880 – 1919. As evidence of appreciation of his meritorious services.”

Noel is appealing again for people with information on the plaque’s whereabouts to come forward and save an item which holds huge sentimental value and very little financial value.

“We are very anxious to see it returned,” he said. “I want to emphasise this is not for my own personal gain. “This is not going to be hanging in my front room, it is for hanging in the new school.”

Noel continues to await contact from Wiltshire Police and Swindon Council on the search for the plaque.

Anyone with any information of is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101, quoting crime reference number: 541400 09237.

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