DOWN ON THE FARM Fegans Boys in Goudhurst in 1940

AN EXHIBITION called Seasons of Change is being hosted in Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery to celebrate the work of Fegans, the Kent children’s charity.

Fegans has been helping families since its inception almost 150 years ago, and currently counsels more than 400 children each week while also providing parents with support, training and interventions.

The free exhibition, which runs for four months from February 9, describes the work of its founder, James Fegan, and follows the charity’s story up to the present day.

Fegans’ Chief Executive Ian Soars said: “We are really looking forward to sharing our story with the people of Tunbridge Wells. Fegans has a fascinating 148-year history and our founder James Fegan was a truly inspiring man.


“Our work today has evolved into transforming the lives of children within our communities through counselling and parenting support – and our services have never been in greater demand.

“We hope that our exhibition inspires people to think about how we can bring hope to future generations and open up conversations about our children’s mental health.”

Mr Fegan began helping street children in 1870 and, a year later, met an orphan called Tom Hammond in Bognor Regis. Tom and the other ‘Fegans Boys’ were initially given homes in London.

But in 1884, ‘to provide a better start in life’, he started to help boys emigrate to Canada. Then, in 1911, he bought a farm in Goudhurst in order to help them train and learn farming techniques ahead of their trips across the Atlantic. The emigration programme ran for 55 years until 1939.

In the 1960s, Fegans Homes became smaller to provide an intimate family environment and also started to support girls.

Then, in 1990, the charity opened the Family Residential Assessment Centre in Broadstairs, and since then it has set up two pre-schools, in Thanet and Heathfield, alongside parent and toddler groups.

During half-term, from February 13-15, there will be free farmyard arts and crafts drop-in sessions for children at the museum.

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