A GROUP of women have been stitching 'Kelty Hearts' in a bid to help those recovering from mastectomies.

Kelty and District Loving Hands have been making the heart-shaped pillows for seven years, donating to hospitals across Scotland.

Last year, they gave away 1,360 pillows, despite pandemic restrictions.

Kate Reeve, a member of the group, explained: "The shape of them, they act like a crutch under the arm pit, so when the lady has had an operation she can use the pillow to keep her arm away from where the operation has been.

"They can also use them in the car, they put the heart shaped bit around the breasts, or around where the operation site is and they can put the car belt across and it doesn't actually cause any pain.

"We call them Kelty Hearts!"

At the height of restrictions, many of the ladies took to making items in their homes, but when they were able, the group also met up at Lochore Meadows.

"I think last year was a little less as we couldn't get out as much," Kate said.

"We actually supply hospitals up in Inverness and in Glasgow as well as Edinburgh and all around Fife. We weren't able to get too many out to them, but we will probably find this year that the numbers will go up.

"Some hospitals get 100 at a time, some get 50 at a time, it depends what storage facilities they have got, they are all wrapped individually in polythene bags and we put a little leaflet inside to explain about the hearts.

"They are made from recycled duvet covers and curtains. We get loads of materials donated and everything gets well washed and pressed and cut out into the heart shapes and stitched up and stuffed.

"It is pretty intense!"

Currently, around 20 women meet up to make the pillows, as well as other crafted items which go to different charities.

Before the pandemic, that number was 48, with many people struggling to make meetings while they are being held in Orwell Bowling Club, in Milnathort, rather than in Kelty Community Centre.

The group are due to return to the centre by the end of March.

"The only thing we really need to buy is supplies of the stuffing, it has to be washable and hypo-allergenic and all the rest of it," Kate added. "It's not something you can recycle.

"We do knitting, sewing and crochet too, and anything anyone likes to do in between. We supply lots of different charities. It's onwards and upwards now.

"Families really didn't want handmade stuff at some points, so we would get piles of stuff building up. The idea was 'let's put their skills to good use' and they felt it was all worthwhile, rather than putting it in a drawer for years on end it was then something that could be passed on, either to the hospitals or charities."

One of the main charities supported by the group is Edinburgh Direct, who are giving aid to refugees in Lebanon.

They also recently donated to Ukrainians in need through Lochgelly Town Hall.

While the group do not tend to take monetary donations, they are always looking for old duvet sets and curtains.

You can contact them on their Facebook page: Kelty and District Loving Hands.