Pair celebrate 30 years providing special memories to hundreds of children and families
PUBLISHED: 10:31 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 10 October 2019
A pair of educators have reached an important milestone after running and managing nursery schools in the Dereham area for the past three decades.
Johnny and Justine Watts, managers of Little Owls Day Nursery, are celebrating the 30-year landmark this month and said it highlights the "hard work and dedication" they have given to children and families in the local community.
"We are now caring for children whose parents we cared for 30 years ago," Mrs Watts added. "When we set up our first nursery, there was myself, one member of staff and a handful of children. Today, we employ 57 members of staff and care for 257 children."
The duo first opened their doors on October 2, 1989, under the name of the East Dereham Day Nursery. At that time, the nursery operated from Jentique and Metamec social centre on Norwich Road.
In the July of the following year, they secured their own premises and moved the nursery into Theatre Street.
Over the next 15 years, the pair built up and developed the nursery as well as setting up Fun Stop - an after school and holiday club.
In 2003, they had the opportunity to bid for a new nursery in Mattishall and were successful. Once they reopened this nursery, Little Owls Day Nursery was born.
For the next two years, Mrs Watts managed and developed Little Owls, in addition to opening Hoots after school and holiday club at Mattishall Primary School. During this time, Mr Watts continued to manage Dereham Day Nursery.
Then in 2005, the parents-of-two took the decision to sell the East Dereham Day Nursery and concentrate on developing Little Owls Day Nursery while working together.
Mrs Watts said: "Although we were based in Mattishall, we constantly received lots of requests from families in Dereham to move the back to the area, which we successfully achieved in 2008 when we bought School Lane in Toftwood.
"We then commenced the huge task of moving the entire nursery to Toftwood and then re-locating the after school club."
Since 2008, the couple purchased a premises on School Lane and opened a baby nursery named Tawny Owls.
Finally, in September 2017 they opened the second Little Owl's Day Nursery in Scarning.
"The secret to our success is simple - our amazing staff teams, constantly developing our nurseries, always putting our children and families first and a strong and healthy marriage to be able to work and live together."