The Hawkenbury Trust Fund

Fund's Aim

The Hawkenbury Trust Fund, in line with its original charitable purpose, continues to support local projects that demonstrate a direct benefit to children with mental or physical disabilities, with a preference for West Kent.


History of The Hawkenbury Trust

The Trust was set up in 1926 as a registered charity to support the Hawkenbury Children's Convalescent Home, named The Hawkenbury Trust for Invalid Children.

The Convalescent Home had its origins as far back as 1870 when a Kent lady, Mrs Thomas Ladd, opened a small cottage in the village of Hawkenbury on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells, for 6 poor and sickly children from London to spend some weeks enjoying country air and good food.

By 1880 the demand for places had grown to such an extent that a new Convalescent Home was established on land nearby, which had become available for a yearly rental of £25!  It provided accommodation for 25 children, supervised by a Matron and staff.  Both boys and girls came to the Home for many years, but by the 1930s records show that only boys were being admitted.

In those early years the Home was supported by local philanthropists and residents in the Tunbridge Wells area.  The Home continued for a further 30 years, including the war-time period, and old ledgers give a fascinating account of income and expenditure over that period.

In 1955 the decision was taken to transfer the work to the newly-opened Pilgrim School at Seaford, which was one of several such schools run by the Invalid Children's Aid Association (ICAA) now known as ICAN.  The school could offer improved facilities, education on site for the duration of a child's stay, and the bracing sea air which was beneficial to those with asthma and similar conditions.

Funds accruing from the sale of the Convalescent Home became the investment capital for the Trust, and the focus from then on was to make grants for the direct benefit of sick or disabled children living in their own homes in the West Kent area.  Applications were received from health visitors, social workers, specialist nurses, play-group leaders and other professional staff in contact with these children and their families.

Requests for grants ranged from the purchase of special equipment, educational toys, and holiday play schemes, to furnishing for families of very limited means following re-housing.  Grants were also made to a small number of institutions serving the needs of sick and disabled children.

A major review of the Trust's work took place in 2002 and the Charity Commission approved a request from the trustees that the name be amended to The Hawkenbury Trust in keeping with current trends and terminology.

Over the past few years there had been a marked decline in the number of grant applications to the Trust. The reasons for this are unclear but may be due to the increased workloads of social workers, health visitors and other professionals who had been the main source of applications.  The Trustees tried to publicise the work of the Trust, but as a small charity did not have the resources to pay for publicity.  For this reason and in order to maximise the use of their funds the Trustees unanimously agreed in January 2014 that a merger with KCF would be the most viable way forward, so from March The Hawkenbury Trust Fund was opened at Kent Community Foundation.

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