THE Epping Forest Guardian has joined forces with NatWest in a collaboration to find our best apprentices and the top 100 companies to bang the drum for business in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Run by Guardian publisher Newsquest Media Group in partnership with NatWest, this exciting initiative is looking to celebrate 100 businesses across Essex, Sussex and London, that have “displayed immense resilience during the pandemic”.

A panel of judges, with NatWest on board, will decide on the Top 100 businesses for the region while nominees will also receive coverage in theTimes and its sister titles across the Newsquest Media group.

There are 12 categories businesses can enter, including small to medium enterprises, green businesses and apprentice of the year.

Other categories are customer focus, business with a turnover of £1m to £5m; business with a turnover of £5m-plus; community focus/not-for-profit/charity; entrepreneur; innovation; outstanding contribution through Covid-19 and diversity and inclusion.

Sarah Bilby, regional managing director at NatWest, said: “As Covid-19 restrictions ease and business activity increases, we want to recognise those businesses in the South East region that have displayed immense resilience throughout the pandemic – that have embraced workplace change, shown great innovation, and championed their customers and community alike.

“We’re excited to partner with Newsquest Media Group to celebrate the top 100 businesses from the region and give them the recognition they truly deserve.”

Guardian group editor Victoria Birch said: “We know how brilliant our businesses are.

“The last year has had an unprecedented impact on all our lives and businesses have had to adapt and weather the storm. We now want to honour our business community, working with NatWest, and shine a light on those wonderful companies which make our towns tick, employing many thousands of people.

“We particularly want to hear from apprentices. There are many across south Essex who are helping our businesses prosper.”

Applications close on Monday. Visit for more information and details on how to enter.