Leslie and Betty Layward
Mike Layward and his cousin, Dr.Gill Greenberg, think back to two special people in
Hackney's past - Leslie and Betty Layward.
Soon after the Second World War, (1939-45) and after quite a few years trying to establish themselves, Lesley and Betty were at last able to set up Layward's furniture shop on Stoke Newington High Street. It was next-door to where the Bodrum Cafe is now (it was a fruit shop in those days).
Gill said, "My uncle and aunt lived in a flat above the shop with my cousins, Ellis and Michael. I often used to visit in my school holidays, and I remained very close to them for the rest of their lives."
"My brother Ellis and I went to William Patten School ", adds Mike.
“But what were his mum and dad really like?”
“You would have loved them - everyone did.They were both such warm people. One thing they had in common was that they were so very kind, both people who worked really hard to make things better for others. There was not a trace of racial or religious intolerance in either of them. Leslie was a Hackney Councillor, and at one time the Vice-Chair of the Lnner London Education Association. He and Betty were both school governors for a long time. Betty was especially interested in helping children with special needs: she was a governor of three schools, and brilliant at making sure that jobs got done.
They led ordinary lives for people in Hackney of their time, never with much money, working hard, caring for their extended family, making the most of everything, determined and optimistic. After Leslie died, Betty carried on working, never missing a meeting if she could help it.
It all changed in a flash on 16th January 1998. On her way back from a little shopping trip with her sister, Betty stopped in at the Stamford Hill Post Office to collect her pension. It was the last thing she ever did. As she set off for home, a sixteenyear-old boy crept up and grabbed her bag - but she held onto it. In the struggle, her head must have been banged. Hours later Betty, aged 80, was dead. The police caught the boy. He explained that he had needed the money to buy drugs. He hadn't meant to hurt Betty. At court he was sentenced to six years for manslaughter.
At the time Betty died, a new primary school was being planned for Stake Newington. The Council decided to name the school in her honour. She was such a modest person she would have been amazed, but it was the best present that anyone could have given her.”
|By permission of Mike Layward, Dr Gill Greenberg and Time Line in which this article first appeared.|
Betty Layward School