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Chas Dowton

Head - First Choice Staff

As head of First Choice Staff, Chas Dowton has over 30 years’ experience as a recruitment specialist serving clients in freight forwarding, shipping and logistics.

He began his career in 1977 working in the import department of the DC Andrews Ballantyne cargo agency. Moving into the commercial environment, he later worked for both OCL and Alltransport.
In 1980, he took his first post in recruitment, soon becoming Branch Manager in London and using his freight industry knowledge to source new staff for customers in the sector. This ultimately led to the creation of his own business with a partner, TAC Recruitment, headquartered at Heathrow Airport that was to open five branches over a six-year period. 

In 1989, he formed the successful Chas Dowton Associates and three years later was approached by a national group that wanted to add a niche freight service to their portfolio. Recognising the special requirements of shipping, forwarding and logistics clients, in June 1994, he launched First Choice. The company has grown significantly in recent years and is highly regarded by its blue chip client base as the leading name in freight recruitment. Today, the company has branches in Ashford (Middlesex) - Heathrow, Essex, Birmingham, Manchester, Uxbridge, Colnbrook and Bristol serving customers and jobseekers across the whole of the UK for all of their permanent and temporary recruitment requirements.

Simon Ward

Head - First Choice Corporate

Simon Ward heads up First Choice Corporate, providing a full consultancy solution for businesses looking to buy, sell or merge.
Before becoming a director of First Choice in 2000, Simon had spent over 30 years in the freight forwarding industry. He began his career with EMG Air Services, a subsidiary of P & O. The business later became Pandair, the number one IATA freight agency.
After Pandair, he joined Hudson Freight Services, a specialist in the oil and gas sector during the time of major development for the industry in the North Sea. Later joining Mercury Airfreight – another leader in the UK market – he once again focused on the development of vertical industry sectors, this time healthcare and publishing. 

In 1974, he joined Guestair, a subsidiary of the Harris & Dixon Group, as Branch Manager in Norwich. After successfully building the company’s presence in the East Anglia region, he returned to London as Operations Director for Guestair to develop its ocean and airfreight business. 

He became a shareholder and Managing Director of Guestair in 1985. Growing the company to a £20 million turnover, it was sold in 1994 to a US-based Public Company. In 1996, Fritz Companies, the San Francisco-based global logistics specialist purchased the UK business and Simon was appointed MD of Fritz Companies in 1997.

Lesley Dowton

Accounts Controller

Joined First Choice: 1994

Lesley is the Accounts Controller responsible for managing all First Choice branches in the UK

Interests: Fine dining, keeping fit, music and travelling.

Kealey Carter

Credit Controller

Joined First Choice: April 2011

Experience: Previously worked for a Fine Arts Shipping Company handling Credit Control, Invoicing & Bought Ledger for 5 and a half years.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my daughters, socialising with friends & visiting new restaurants with my husband.


Kirsty Barrow-Chapman

Branch Manager

Joined First Choice: April 2008

Experience: Worked within Recruitment for many years, specialising in Freight, Shipping and Logistics.

Interests: Meeting with Friends and Family, eating out, shopping, travelling and relaxing in the Sunshine!

Joanne White

Recruitment Consultant

Joined First Choice: February 2019

ExperienceWorked in the Freight Forwarding industry since ’91 and specialised in operations for Exports as well as managing Key Accounts.

Interests: Spending time with my family and friends, travelling and eating out. 

Jenny Maguire

Driving Recruitment Consultant

Joined First Choice: June 2016

Experience: Worked in commercial recruitment for just over a year and prior to this spent many years working within sales and customer services.

Interests: A social animal with lots of friends, who enjoys the gym, general fitness and the occasional vodka! 

Michelle Clinton

Senior Branch Administrator

Joined First Choice: April 2008

Experience: Previously spent many years in commercial recruitment in Birmingham

Interests: Socialising with family and friends, taking selfies, making people laugh and being a full time Football mom to 2 energic boys! 


Richard Edwards

Office Manager

Joined First Choice: July 2002

Experience: Worked in the freight forwarding industry for 19 years

Interests: Following my football team all around the country and Europe, all sports, holidays abroad, bowls, reading and TV.

Kellie Buckley

Senior Recruitment Consultant - Freight Division

Joined First Choice: November 2010

Experience: I have worked in Freight Recruitment since 2000, re-joining First Choice in November 2010

Interests: I have 2 young boys who I adore and love spending time with. I love all kinds of shopping (especially at Westfield!), eating out with my husband and look forward to family holidays.

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