In February 2017, the stenographic profession and the Institute lost our very own Elisabeth “Betty” Willett. Upon her passing, we decided to put in place a very special dedication to her for all that she did for our profession.

In 1974, Betty was elected onto the Council of the Institute and in 1975 she became the first female President, a position which she held on a further five occasions, once for two successive years overseeing our amalgamation with the then National Society of Stenotypists.

Betty was our most senior member of Council, latterly as Chief Examiner. Her last task at the time of her passing was rewording and setting new exam criteria for potential BIVR members.

Betty was the mother of Council, the Queen of BIVR, and always had members’ interests at heart, including championing (whilst always speaking with quiet authority) for fair remuneration, and being a staunch campaigner for maintaining the Institute’s high standards of transcription.

With the introduction of Computer-Aided Transcription in the 1980s, Betty led the way in becoming a realtime reporter and a captioner for the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing community, very possibly being the first Speech-to-Text Reporter (STTR). She voluntarily encouraged and assisted many members to achieve similar goals, freely devoting many hours of her time, and showed little sign of slowing down.

Betty covered all manner of assignments and travelled, along with her colleague and friend Lindsay Bickers, to many countries, including Venezuela, Finland, Japan, Zimbabwe, Rome and Hong Kong.

Betty received many accolades, in particular being honoured by the Institute with Life Membership in May 2005 and in 2006 being the recipient of the Joseph Maitland Robinson Award for her work as an STTR.

BIVR members, past and present, have a story or two to tell about their interactions with Betty. At the time of Betty’s passing, many people reached out to Leah Willersdorf, our then President, to share their memories of Betty and express that if it weren’t for her they wouldn’t be where they are now.

Through her dedication, passion and commitment to our profession, not only will Betty live on in our hearts but she will also live on in the fingers of many of this country’s shorthand writers.

Council decided to inaugurate the Betty Willett Award for outstanding achievement in the profession and asked the membership to nominate who they thought worthy of this accolade.

Roll of Honour

2017 – awarded posthumously to Betty Willett via her daughter, Amanda.
2018 – awarded to Claire Hill, ACR MBIVR, QRR, RPR, CRR, CRC, NRCPD registered
2020 - awarded to Andrew Howell, ACR MBIVR, QRR, RPR
2021 - awarded to Mary Sorene, Lifetime MBIVR, FIPS, CRI