Betty can be found in the heart of London’s West End. Her nearest transport links are Marble Arch, Paddington Station, Edgware Road and Lancaster Gate. She’s no more than ten minutes walk from each of them.
This places her in a really interesting part of town. Just down the road is Hyde Park which attracts millions each year, particularly runners and dog walkers, but through its big concerts, events and winter wonderland most of London comes past at some point in the year.
Betty also lives just one block behind Edgware Road. This is a real party venue for all those interested in Middle Eastern culture, with restaurants and shisha bars a-plenty. London is full of vibrant religious communities and Betty is no more than a stone’s throw from the very famous West London synagogue and a ten minute walk from Regent’s Park Mosque.
To the North lie Brunel’s majestic Paddington Station and St Mary’s hospital, where Penicillin was discovered and baby Prince George was born. Just beyond is the Paddington basin with aspirations to become the new Canary Wharf and the canals.
On our Western side begins a real mixture of estates. Side by side, in typical London fashion, stand some of the richest properties in the world alongside some areas of very real destitution. Betty, of course, is very nicely housed but she overlooks the full diversity that London life possesses.
Naturally this is an extremely diverse area with people of all ages, all cultures and from all over the world congregate. A Russian-speaking playgroup meets in Betty’s shadow. The Sri Lankan embassy is close by. Every day people from all over the world come into contact with her. Betty is served by the Hyde Park Estate Association, who often have meetings in the church. Just down the road is the Victory Services Club. All sorts of other communities, groups, clubs and musical organisations meet in the area.
There are also several local schools. St James and St Michael’s Primary school is attached to the church and so come in often for services enjoying the full benefit of Betty’s playing.
The church also has a strong connection with Hampden Gurney, as well as looser connections with other local schools and Westminster Academy.
Betty’s first community though is her church, an extremely welcoming, inclusive, fun church which accepts all-comers, and stands at the heart of the community.
The time we really get to show off is Horseman’s Sunday when people come from all across London and further afield to see the vicar bless the horses. The whole community comes out with our local police, the armed forces, the horsey community, the Lord mayor and councillors; everyone comes along for a marvellous service, a fair and to see all the animals!