AS part of a lockdown project, a Borders crafting centre asked locals to create designs inspired by the things that gave them strength during the pandemic.

Lara Armitage, 44, owner of At Birkhill House crafting centre in Earlston created the Strength in Numbers project over the summer, and called upon Borderers who wanted to take part.

And much to her surprise, more than 80 people contacted her.

"I was bowled over", Mrs Armitage said. "I felt very privileged that people wanted to participate and I was hopeful that I was helping people to take a positive outlook on the situation.

"I'm so delighted so many wanted to take part."

Using one-foot canvases, artists and crafters could choose any medium they wanted to create their lockdown-inspired work.

For the project, Mrs Armitage provided 84 canvases, with 79 returned to be part of the final three installations.

Fifty-one of the canvases were commissioned by Birkhill House, and 28 were issued by young people's group, Stepping Stones.

On Friday (November 6), Mrs Armitage delivered the three collections to Borders General Hospital (BGH) to be displayed along the outpatient corridor.

The Strength in Numbers collections will replace entries from the National Galleries Scotland schools competition which had previously been displayed in the hospital.

Sandra Henwood, spiritual care coordinator of the BGH chaplaincy centre said: "Staff, patients and visitors love the artwork, which is displayed all over the hospital.

“It’s a welcome distraction, especially the ground floor community section where we have been privileged to have the National Galleries school competition.

"The ‘Strength in Numbers’ project will now take its place."

A mum of two, Mrs Armitage said she "never imagined" the project would be received the way it has.

She said: "My hope in terms of the final product was that we'd have something to be hung in the hospital..

"I never dreamed we'd have this many participants."

And participants have benefited from their creations too.

Marion Ross, who contributed a canvas entitled Heartbeat of Hope, said: "My canvas represents connections we have made during lockdown.

"Perhaps we have developed new friendships with neighbours, rekindled friendships, started new hobbies or revisited old ones.

"However small, we are all connected in some way.

"And throughout the lockdown, the NHS has remained the heartbeat of hope."

During the creation of the three canvases, Mrs Armitage said she had invaluable help from friends and family.

"I had a lot of support from Alison [Macleod]," she said. "It was more a matter of moral support.

"It was lovely to have her come to help sort through everything.

"Both my children made canvases.

"And my husband was a great support – carrying everything and helping me deliver the canvases in our Alpaca trailer."

And to those who contributed, Mrs Armitage added: "I'm really thankful for the support.

"People poured their heart and soul into the canvases.

"Just a big thank you to everyone."

The canvases are now on display in Borders General Hospital along the outpatient corridor and will remain there for a year.

To see more of the work done at Birkhill House, visit: