Case Study: The Hawkenbury Trust

The Hawkenbury Trust has its origins as far back as 1870, when Mrs Thomas Ladd opened a small cottage in the village of Hawkenbury for poor and sickly children from London to recuperate in the country air.  By 1880, the demand for places had grown to such an extent that a convalescent home was established with the support of local philanthropists and the residents of Tunbridge Wells.

Hawkenbury TrustIn 1955, the facility moved to the newly-opened Pilgrim School at Seaford, and proceeds from the sale of the Convalescent Home were used to set up The Hawkenbury Trust (for Invalid Children). 

Since then, The Hawkenbury Trust has directly benefited many, many sick and disabled children across West Kent, from helping with the purchase of special equipment and educational toys, to funding holiday play-schemes. 

Despite the trustees' best efforts, applications had started to decline in more recent years and the Trust was finding it increasingly difficult to distribute its annual income effectively. 

As a small charity, they did not have the resources to publicise the work of the charity and started to explore whether there were more sustainable ways of managing the charity in the long term.  It was important to the trustees that the Trust’s long heritage of benevolence going back over 100 years should not be lost.

In March 2014, the trustees made the decision that a merger with Kent Community Foundation would be the most viable way forward.  Already distributing over £1 million in grants in Kent, the Community Foundation’s tried and tested grant-making infrastructure offered the ideal vehicle.  By joining forces with Kent Community Foundation, the trustees were able to maximise the impact of the Trust’s assets, while securing the long term future of the Hawkenbury Trust as a fund within the Kent Community Foundation family, continuing to provide invaluable support for local children with disabilities and life-limiting conditions.

Community First

As an additional benefit, Kent Community Foundation was able to draw down 50% match funding from the Government’s Community First programme which added considerable real value to The Hawkenbury Trust.

There was a great responsibility on us to preserve The Hawkenbury Trust’s original aims while at the same time ensuring that it offers support to as many children with special needs as possible.  All the trustees unanimously agreed that a merger with Kent Community Foundation was in the best interests of The Hawkenbury Trust. 

Veronica Fraser, Chairman of The Hawkenbury Trust


To find out more about how Kent Community Foundation can provide a safe haven for charitable trusts, please contact our Development Team via