It was a common joke that Steph came to work for a rest. She heard it often and it always made her smile.
Besides a full time job with us, Steph Clarke was busy.
She and her husband James started and ran the hugely significant hyperlocal blog WV11. Both volunteered to run their local community centre and she was a driving force on the board of the local charity Hands on Wednesfield. Steph had just raised more than £5000 for new Christmas lights for her local high street – even though James thought she was pushing her luck on that one.
She seemed to almost effortlessly run a photography business on the side, helped with her local (and large ) photography club, made the Wolverhampton Social Media Surgery happen and supported a range of home school groups. Steph organised voluntary events for Big Lunch Extras, got stuck into making new things happen through Make Shift in Wolverhampton and sorted regular social nights for her and her friends.
In between she never flinched from standing up for injustice (as anyone on the very sharp end of her unflinchingness will tell you) or caring for someone who might not even know that they needed a kindness.
Above all though she was a wholeheartedly committed wife, mother, daughter, grand-daughter and sister. Loyalty was at her core.
So did Steph come to work for a rest?
The truth is that she was too restless to be all that good at resting. Her commitment to what we do at Podnosh was total. Throughout the 5 years she worked here Steph was happiest when we were stupidly busy. She loved learning new things, solving problems, seeing work through – sometimes with very gritted teeth. She could not fail to connect her different worlds of work and volunteering and home to make them all work better. She helped and connected people almost casually and her stock pot of social capital was rich and full of flavour.
Our company values are: Think, Make Things Better and Give a ****. She relished telling people that, especially the sweary bit. She blogged to her friends:
“What do I do? I think, I make a difference, I give a f**k! – and I’m really proud of that!”
She embodied these values and at times scolded me (respectfully, he’s “the boss’) if I wasn’t doing the same. (She could smell hypocrisy at a 1000 yards and might need talking down from shouting it out every time she sniffed it).
Most days that we worked together ended the same. She’d head off to do another days work in her life and I’d say ‘thank you’. I wasn’t really thanking her for the work she’d done. It was for her being generous enough to bring all of the intensity and decency of herself to work.
Last Thursday our working day ended differently. So here I’d just like to say one final ‘thank you, Steph’ x.
(Steph Clarke died on Friday November 25th after falling ill the previous day)