Our 2023 Winners of the J-P Memorial Prize
J-P was a beloved friend of everybody at Torchbox, working with us for a total of nine years. After his tragic, sudden death in 2017, his colleagues wanted a way to celebrate and remember him, as well as to encourage people to live up to his values. So in 2021, the climate voice group launched the J-P Memorial Prize.
J-P was committed to fighting climate change and making the world a better place. You can read more about J-P’s values here, including his determination to:
- Be the change you want to see in the world
- Do the right thing; not the easy thing
- Help others to shine more brightly
It took us well over an hour to reach a decision on this year’s winner! Kate, J-P’s wife, and I spent a long time discussing the nominees, and their amazing qualities and achievements over the past year.
We were blown away by how many amazing people were nominated. I found it quite overwhelming what an amazingly high standard it was - the sheer number of people and the brilliance of everybody. It was great in one way, but I know Jenny will agree it made our job a lot harder!Kate
The award ceremony was very emotional; it’s clear how much J-P meant to the people whose lives he shared. Kate, alongside J-P’s parents, Pat and John, spoke beautifully about the way he lived his life.
I’m in awe of my Torchbox colleagues every single day. Yes – the big, bold and brave advocacy and actions they undertake, but just as importantly – the authentic, kind and encouraging way they support and inspire others to live these values.
Although I’m sad that I’m unlikely to judge next year’s prize, I also don’t envy Kate, Thibaud and Dan that they will have to make this decision! It’s such a tough one to make.
Described by his colleagues as a “wise village elder, doing a wonderful job of helping others shine more brightly, supporting colleagues, and being generous with his time and experience”, Dan embodied J-P’s values in both his personal and professional life.
Dan’s lifestyle is geared around the environment, keenly tending to his allotment, cycling to the office, and generally having a mindset of not wasting anything.
One of our team had this to say about Dan: “The stand-out thing that made me think of Dan for the award this year though, was his epic adventure last year to cycle across the Netherlands to attend a Wagtail event – very cool and quite an undertaking!”
Here’s what Dan had to say about winning:
Our team has many great folks that share and actively embody J-P's values, who I thought were lots more deserving. So, I was surprised, humbled and honoured to have even been nominated.
J-P was a friend and a mentor whose memory I treasure and carry through. While I am still a long way away, I believe we all play a part and should help each other in making the world better.
As for the prize money, I pledge this to a good cause that we, as a team, would find worthy – be it contributing towards someone's scholarship or funding a climate-related project.
Thibaud is hailed by his colleagues as an amazing champion and supporter of people. He drives many DEI initiatives forward, including creating alternative social spaces on team trips, like board game evenings, through to improving our technical accessibility services.
Thibaud's leadership in the Google Summer of Code and Outreachy projects supported new programmers to develop and stretch their skills. His contribution was instrumental in helping people from all over the world find paid internships, several of whom went on to join Torchbox.
One of our team had this to say about Thibaud: “Thibaud is a force for good around sustainability issues and particularly technical sustainability issues. Despite being a father of two young’uns and having lots of demand on his time, he finds space to support and drive accessibility initiatives at Torchbox. He evaluated the environmental impact of all our Wagtail sites and all the Wagtail sites in the world.”
Here’s what Thibaud had to say about winning:
Winning this prize was very humbling. When I reflected upon this, I recognised how many people at Torchbox live by these incredibly important values set by J-P.
What’s most important to me is that we continue to do this as a group, no matter how small those steps are.
We are lucky at Torchbox that we can drive forward initiatives like the Torchbox Academy, to reach more diverse groups of people and help to develop their careers. And our voice groups, such as Climate Action, Wellbeing and Civic Engagement, mean we can all get behind initiatives that J-P would be proud of.
Finally, I wanted to be sure that we also shared our incredible finalists, Matthew, Dave, Bonny, Ben, Marnie, Felicity, and Kyle. Here’s what the team had to say about the way they embody J-P’s values, though much shorter than the original paragraphs that glowed with enthusiasm.
“Matthew helps others to shine more brightly in his tireless community support for Wagtail, very much in the spirit of J-P and his work in the Drupal community.”
“Dave is someone who always takes time to listen and help others as part of his role in Torchbox, however busy he is. He’s someone I trust and know I could talk to, and will always get a kind and friendly response. I’m sure many people at Torchbox feel the same way.”
“Bonny has had a tough year in a number of ways (and I’m sure more than even we’re aware of). But I’ve been inspired by the way she’s dealt with it all – and despite the suffering, has still been able to continue to think about others. She’s also a great encourager too – a real gift!”
“Ben is a fantastic person to know and work with. He is thoughtful and supportive: he isn’t afraid to reach out and help when things are tough and cares deeply about the people he works with and in society. He’s a real star.”
“At a time that I know Felicity is really busy, she’s helped to keep up the momentum in the climate voice group and brought her comms experience to spread the word about the vegan cook-along and tips for cutting down personal emissions. She encourages others to do what they can to help the environment, not to try and drastically change – which is proven to be more effective in the long run.”
“Marnie is an incredibly welcoming and supportive force in the digital marketing team. She is also part of the climate voice group and is incredibly passionate about making the world a better place. Marnie doesn’t make anyone feel bad about not doing more for the climate, she encourages even the smallest changes people can make to make a difference.”
"Kyle regularly speaks up in team and client calls to advocate for vulnerable users and accessibility. He also puts huge amounts of effort into supporting other members of the team, reaching out in a kind and open way which lets you know there's support if you need it, but also leaves you the space to respond however you need to. These efforts are often entirely invisible, but Kyle does the right thing simply because he feels it's right."
As the J-P Memorial Prize winner last year, I was honoured and so grateful that I got to help Kate judge the prize this year. I really enjoyed the time we spent together talking about J-P’s values and celebrating him as a person.
Congratulations to our wonderful winners and finalists.