Cath Lumley, 43, founded Dogtopia Pet Services in 2005 after a career in sales in which constant travelling meant she was unable to spend as much time with her dogs as she would like.

Now she runs a business offering dog walking, home boarding, holiday feeding and microchipping for most pets as well as an online store and has since expanded into Basildon, Brentwood and Billericay.

Cath describes her company as “not too big and not too small” and says she gets to know all her clients as well as their pets, whether they’re dogs, cats, lizards, fish or even tortoises.

What are the best things about Thurrock?

The diversity. Being so multicultural is good for the borough and it has opened local people’s minds to other cultures and hopefully has made local people more accepting of others.

How do you see the future panning out for the borough?

I don’t believe that we need more housing but we do need to improve local shopping areas and invite more companies to come back and open up locally. Small businesses need local people to support them and a safer and more attractive town centre would help hugely.

What changes, if any, have you seen in Thurrock over the years?

Parts of Thurrock have flourished with people from other areas moving in and some bringing their businesses with them. Sadly, though, some parts of Thurrock have declined rapidly and beyond repair.

What have been some of the highlights of the business’s time in Thurrock and what has kept you in the borough?

Dogtopia has grown and grown in the nine years it has been running. Highlights would be being asked to franchise out the business and to open up divisions in other parts of the country. I declined these offers as I like to work closely with my clients and staff and feel that Dogtopia would lose that personal touch that we offer.

What involvement has the business had within the community?

Dogtopia are active with a few local companies that offer other services with pets such as lost pets, dog training and dog rescue/rehoming. We will always try to help you find what you are looking for and will only recommend someone that we wholeheartedly believe in and support.

How do you think other people in Essex see Thurrock?

Some people see Thurrock as a not very nice place to live. It has its good parts and its bad parts. Unfortunately the bad parts are the bits that hit the headlines. I love living here, we are close to so many amenities and yet still so close to so much greenery.

And finally, what’s do you like most about the Thurrock Gazette?

The Gazette is good for local news. I think it could give more news feeds though. Over the last few years the news has declined and the houses and car sales section has increased. More local news would definitely improve the Gazettes readership and therefore local companies would advertise more and Thurrock would boom once again.