The Times Awards 2021: Business Owners of the Year

Business Owners of the Year in the Times Awards 2021, Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett of Little Footsteps

Business Owners of the Year in the Times Awards 2021, Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett of Little Footsteps - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The Business Owners of the Year in the Times Awards 2021 are Gemma Hewett and Donna Nevill of Little Footsteps. 

Offering full or part-time care for babies and children up to the age of 14 years old, Little Footsteps started out in Dereham and now has a second base in Mattishall. 

It was launched by Mrs Hewett and Mrs Nevill back in 2012 and, over the years, has built a reputation as one of the very best places for childcare in the area.

Little Footsteps owners Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett with Times chief reporter Tom Chapman

Little Footsteps owners Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett with Times chief reporter Tom Chapman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Their job was, of course, made all the more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic, but they have passed the toughest of tests with flying colours. 

"It feels really good," said Mrs Hewett, after receiving the award. "We work our backsides off for this place, we really do.

"Donna has just been away and she has still been responding to messages. I've been off celebrating my own things, and yet we are still here and still talking to the staff.

"It really is 24/7, it is our lives, so to actually be recognised for what we do is amazing."

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Mrs Nevill added: "It's incredible. We do work really hard and it has been a real slog at times.

Little Footsteps owners Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett receive their award from chief reporter Tom Chapman

Little Footsteps owners Donna Nevill (left) and Gemma Hewett receive their award from chief reporter Tom Chapman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"Over the years, there have been some really hard points and decisions to be made which have affected our own personal lives.

"Ultimately we are here for the families of the children we look after, not just to make money."

The pair also saluted their team of dedicated staff, many of whom have worked at Little Footsteps for several years. 

"They are absolutely fantastic," said Mrs Hewett. "It's probably the best team we have ever had.

"Childcare isn't a job that pays millions, but they are committed and they really enjoy it."