A REMOTE Highland community is in shock after learning that a bright and popular teenager suffering from flu died after also being struck with pneumonia.
Bethany Walker (pictured), from Applecross, lost her fight last week at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness after her condition worsened.
Her mother said she had lost "the best daughter in the world" and that she was "broken".
Miss Walker (18), a former Plockton High School pupil, was on a gap year prior to starting a midwifery course at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
Her mother, Heather Teale, posted on a social network: "My beautiful daughter Bethany Walker was taken from me. She had been suffering from a flu virus, which became pneumonia. She was airlifted to Raigmore with me by her side, where she rapidly deteriorated.
"I’m broken. The bottom has fallen out of my world. I have my mum with me, and my wonderful son Danny, who are both feeling the same loss as I am. Life will never be the same again. Bethany, I love you to the moon and back, I always have and I always will.
"You were the best daughter I could have ever wished for and I will always be the proudest mum in the world. I have no more words. I’m truly devastated."
She heaped praise on medical staff, saying the intensive care staff "could not have done more, sadly despite their best efforts, she didn’t make it". And, speaking to the Ross-shire Journal, she offered thanks to the air ambulance crew for doing "a fantastic job."
Family friend Linda Turnbull posted: "Never have we all been so heartbroken or grief-stricken. Bethany was one of life’s most beautiful and amazing young women you could possibly meet. She was the best and closest friend to my gorgeous niece Bronwyn Glover. They had a friendship that was unbreakable and perfect.
"Bethany was taken far too soon from this world. She captured all of our hearts as part of our own family. She was beautiful, intelligent, funny and perfect. We will miss her forever."
Staff at Plockton High School also offered condolences, posting: "Our school community has been saddened at the news of the tragic loss of Bethany who was a pupil until the summer of 2017, when she left school after six very successful years to take a gap year before taking up her place to study midwifery.
"Bethany was a kind, caring, gifted and exceptionally conscientious student and a super role model for younger pupils both in the school itself – and in the hostel where she resided during the week. In S6 Bethany was appointed deputy head girl and conducted herself well."
Staff at the Applecross Inn, where Bethany had worked, posted online: "Farewell to dear Bethany – a fantastic member of our team who we sadly lost after a short illness. You were the ‘belle of the ball’ at Hogmanay and, indeed, everywhere.
"Such a tragic loss of someone so perfect in every way – so polite, such beauty, humour, fun, music and studies – loved by every member of our team."
Bethany, whose great loves in life were music and biology, is survived by her mother Heather, father Andy, brother Danny (16), and grandmothers Sylvia and Dorothy.
Local Highland councillor Kate Stephen described her death as "a desperate tragedy for the family and the wider community".
She said: "No words of consolation from me would, in any way, be sufficient. From the council’s point of view, I know staff at Plockton will do whatever they can to support the family and the pupils in dealing with this terrible loss."
Echoing that, fellow ward councillor Derek Macleod said: "I offer my deepest sympathies to Bethany’s family and I share the community’s grief."