Meet the Food & Beverage Team

Mark Forwood, Head Chef 

Leaving academia to pursue a more hands on career I have spent the subsequent years enjoying and exploring the wondrous variety of foods and flavours available to us today. In particular trying local dishes when overseas, I highly recommend fish and banana (Madeira).

Now settled local to Rowton Castle with my family I enjoy sunny days in the countryside, picnics on hill tops and leisurely bike rides down the back lanes. I spend a lot of time working on the garden with my wife, looking for interesting plants and trying to convince an array of unwilling vegetables to grow.

The friendly and considerate nature of my colleagues makes working here a pleasure. It is good to know that our efforts go, in some way, towards making beautiful memories for someone's special day.


Keith Blindell, Operations Manager

I was originally born in Manchester and have worked in the Hotel industry for the last 25 years.  In that time I have worked in a number of hotels and restaurants, which also included three years aboard  HMV QE2 as a Grill Waiter.  This position enabled me to gain invaluable experience and also to travel  to some amazing destinations; I was fortunate to be on-board for three full World Cruises. A safari in  Mombasa, docking by Sydney Harbour Bridge and I still maintain Aruba has one of the best beaches in  the world.

It was whilst on-board I met Alison, now my wife and after leaving the ship in 1995 we both worked for Jack at the Bridgewater Hotel in Solihull.

In 1997 we both came to Rowton Castle and settled, just on the Welsh border where we live with our two children, Josh and Ella.

My department’s key role is over-seeing the smooth day-to-day running of all aspects of the Food and Beverage service of the hotel, but most notably the many Weddings held here at Rowton. During the 16 years I have worked here I still consider it a privilege to play a small part in what is, quite possibly one of the biggest days of their lives.

Whilst not at work I have an obsessive interest of all aspects of Motor Sport, particularly F1 and it is one of my ambitions to drive around the Spa circuit in Belgium.

Gareth Winebloom, Deputy Operations Manager 

I was born in Birmingham, but grew up in Shropshire.  My interests include distance running, snowboarding, bowling, and watching various forms of sport and motorsport.

I first went to Rowton Castle on work experience from secondary school at the age of 15 - I enjoyed it  so much that I decided on a career in the hospitality industry.

After gaining a Higher National Diploma in Hospitality and Catering I went on and completed a Business Management degree with Staffordshire University.

Following a period working in one of Shrewsbury's finest restaurants, I returned to Rowton and joined the team as Assistant Manager, before being promoted to the position of Deputy Operations Manager.

I enjoy being part of the 'family' at Rowton, and get particular satisfaction from looking after couples and all of their friends and family; ensuring that their day runs perfectly.

Debbie Buck, Assistant Manager

I was born and raised in the Welsh Borders, not far from Rowton Castle.  I live with my three children, Michael, Matthew & Georgia, and our retriever Belle.  I enjoy spending as much time as possible tending to my garden, and also breeding and raising Frizzle Chickens

I started working at Rowton Castle as a member of the Food & Beverage team, but seized the opportunity with both hands when the position of Assistant Manager became available.  I like the varied nature of my job, love meeting new people on a daily basis, and take real satisfaction from playing a key part in the success of a couple’s special day.




Chris McDonald, Assistant Manager

I was born and raised in the historic town of Shrewsbury in the heart of the county of Shropshire. This was where I started my career at the age of 16 working for Tom Cobleigh's "Beaten Track" as a waiter. Whilst working there I received my NVQ in hospitality and catering.

After 2 years the opportunity arose to live and work at the Butlins holiday Resort in Skegness, in the role of senior team leader of the Skyline Pavilion...But as the story goes all good things come to a end and I left Butlins after 3 years with the plan to move back to Shrewsbury.

I travelled to Gran Canaria for a two week holiday, only to stay out there when I acquired work at the  world famous Café La Belle show bar in the heart of the Jumbo Centre in Playa Del Ingles! I moved  to the south of the island, to Purto Rico, working as showman and disc jockey for many well known  entertainment and leisure venues. During this time, I  became a scientologist.

Upon my return to the UK I saw a post for a vacancy at Rowton Castle and as they say, "the rest is history". I can say I have worked in many excellent venues, but what's different here is that we are united in a special way; we treat each other with respect and we have become a family.

People say business is just business but this is not at all 'just' business for me, it is a very important part of my life now, and I look forward to my future at Rowton Castle.

Lewis Williams, Assistant Manager

I have lived in Shrewsbury all of my life.

My secondary education was at the Corbett School in Baschurch where I achieved Deputy Head Boy status in my final year by teacher and pupil vote.  I then went on to study for my A-Levels at Shrewsbury Sixth Form, during which time I started working at Rowton Castle as a part time waiter. Upon completion of my A-Levels, I continued to work at Rowton Castle on a full time basis and became interested in management roles and training; after 12 months I was promoted to an assistant managers level where I have the pleasure of acting as Master of Ceremonies for the biggest day of a couples life.

My interests include World War II where I have had the opportunity to travel to Austria, Bavaria and Germany from an historical point of view. With history as a passion, I am enthralled by the history of Rowton Castle and its uses prior to becoming a hotel.

I also enjoy discussing and debating anything of a political nature, and I do like a good conspiracy theory

Alex Sheppard, Assistant Manager

Alex.jpgBorn in Slihull, I moved to Oswestry at the age of 8 and have subsequently lived in Wales, and now Shrewsbury.

I studied for my Btech Diploma in Business & Marketing at the Walford and North Shropshire College where I was also nominated as the Student Union Representative.

Whilst a student I began my career in hospitality working part time initially as a Kitchen Porter at The Bradford Arms, Llanymynech, progressing to Waiter. I worked full time in Catering at Dobbies, Shrewsbury, where I was trained as a Barista learning everything there is to know about the beans that make coffee, including Latte art.  I then moved to Caffe Nero, Shrewsbury in the role of Assistant Manager.

My hobbies include socialising with friends and family.  Being a sociable person I was attracted to the role of Assistant Manager.  I have a lot to learn but I look forward to continuing my career and devolping my skills at Rowton Castle Hotel.