New era for Sheffield family business

The Fretwell-Downing hospitality dynasty is moving into a new era, with a young management team taking over a key role in the long-established family business.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th July 2011, 9:00 am

Paul Downing, son of chairman Anthony, has left his post as head of The Maynard in Grindleford and outside catering venue Whirlowbrook Hall. He is being replaced by director Jane Hitchman, head chef Ben Hickinson and manager David Duffy.

“The hospitality industry nationally is still suffering the shockwaves of a recession that appears to have no sign of letting up,” said Anthony Fretwell-Downing. “However, we are positive and optimistic that we have the right blend of people, personalities and product to ensure that The Maynard and Whirlowbrook Hall have prosperous futures.

“We all owe Paul a great debt of gratitude for turning round two venues and making them fit for purpose in the modern-day market.”

Jane Hitchman has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, from kitchen and front-of-house roles to finance and general management. She worked at Sheffield restaurants including Hanrahan’s and Champs before joining the Fretwell-Downing group five years ago.

Chef Ben, from Hathersage, worked his way up the kitchen ladder at The Maynard, helping the hotel to earn two AA rosettes, while Australian David Duffy studied hospitality at Hallam University and has risen rapidly to management level after two years at Whirlowbrook Hall.

Paul Downing remains a director of the company but is moving on to pursue outside interests, including the launch of an internet company.