TRIBUTES have been paid to an "extraordinary" Tweeddale woman following her passing last month.

Keira Jacqueline Macfarland (née Airey), who grew up in Innerleithen and was a former Dux Girl at the St Ronan's Games, died on March 18 after a 17-month battle with cancer.

The 43-year-old attended St Ronan's Primary School and then Peebles High School (PHS) – where she was chosen as head girl – before heading to St Andrew's University to study geology.

It was there where Keira met her husband Sean.

"She was very passionate, very driven, she never really had a bad word to say about anyone," said Sean. "She was very modest, but quietly confident in what she wanted and what she wanted to do and what was important to her."

Although she was encouraged to apply to Oxbridge, Keira stuck to her guns and applied to study geology at St Andrews.

Sean added: "If there was something she wanted to do she really went for it, she did it with 100 per cent effort and love.

"She was a massively loving person, so some of my best memories of her were always seeing how she was with others.

"People have relationships with their family and friends but Keira always went above and beyond to look after people."

After graduating in 2000, and marrying Sean in that same year, Keira became a BA pilot cadet and worked with the company as a captain until her retirement due to ill health in 2020.

Peeblesshire News: Sean and Kiera MacfarlandSean and Kiera Macfarland

On her career with BA, Keira said: "I will forever be grateful for the hand up in life the BA cadetship gave me some 20 years ago.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would do a job I loved so much and have such a fulfilling career.

"I’ve had the opportunity to fly the 757, 767, 777, 787 and 320. I loved them all, especially, the Airbus despite what the doubters say.

"My time in command was particularly special and I was amazed by the constant positive feedback I received about the fact I was a female captain.”

Sean and Keira lived in Oxfordshire while he was based at RAF Brize Norton until 2010 when they relocated to Canada for three years as part of an exchange tour.

On their return to Scotland, Keira, who had grown up on the Glen Estate in Innerleithen and had spent a lot of time hiking, wanted to give something back to the earth, so in 2018 she joined the Cairngorms National Park Volunteer Ranger programme.

While volunteering in the Balmoral Estate Keira was one of two rangers who helped save a cyclists life after he experienced a cardiac arrest in the park, and in her first year as a ranger she received the National Parks Volunteer of the Year award.

Keira was passionate about the outdoors, a passion which started when she was a child, but her interest in geology was sparked by a school trip to Iceland in her fifth year at PHS.

Sean said: "She saw the amazing geology and mountains and volcanoes of Iceland and that set her on the path of wanting to know how the earth was formed.

"She got into flying, but the whole time we were together we were aways coming up here and going hillwalking.

"Around the world we'd do a lot of hiking.

"But Keira was always massively passionate about mountains, and Scotland, and the Cairngorms."

Peeblesshire News: Sean and Kiera enjoyed spending time in the Scottish mountainsSean and Kiera enjoyed spending time in the Scottish mountains

Keira was diagnosed with inoperable terminal stage 4 advanced colorectal cancer on November 13, 2020, and was told that it had spread to her liver.

Thanks to the help and support of her doctor, Ian Sanders, Keira was able to spend her and Sean's 24th wedding anniversary at their home in Glenshee on March 13.

At her day of celebration on March 30, Keira's niece Jade said during the service: "I couldn’t possibly fit into just one speech everything that made Keira, Keira.

"Thinking of Keira will always spring to mind laughter, comfort, warmth and a soul who cared and loved deeply for those around her."

While undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Keira made plans for ways she could give back to two organisations which were close to her heart.

Her first charity she chose to support was Macmillan Cancer Care after the amazing support and treatment she received from staff at NHS Tayside, the Cornhill Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Unit, Perth Royal Infirmary's Oncology Department, the Blairgowrie District Nursing team, and the staff on Ward 32 at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Peeblesshire News: Keira was a volunteer ranger for the Cairngorms National ParkKeira was a volunteer ranger for the Cairngorms National Park

The second charity Keira wanted to support was the Venture Trust, an Edinburgh-based organisation which helps people enjoy the "restorative benefits of nature".

The part of the organisation Keira was most keen to help is the Inspiring Young Futures programme which helps young people aged 16-25 take part in outdoor learning.

Keira's Just Giving page reads: "Having grown up in the countryside around the Scottish Borders Keira experienced first hand the wealth of life changing benefits easy access to Nature provided in those early years.

"Keira really wanted to do something to help other young people who might not normally have those opportunities or the exposure to such an environment readily available."

Since creating the page, more than £10,000 has been raised for the two charities.

To donate to Keira's fundraiser, click here.