THE distraught family of a well-known Hayle woman are appealing to the callous thieves who stole a remembrance vase from her grave to return it.
Esme Jelbert, 66, who died in February this year, was Hayle's citizen of the year for 2011 and was renowned in the town for her work at the Passmore Edwards Institute.
Mrs Jelbert's sister Ruth Watts said the vase had been bought by her elderly parents who were housebound and unable to visit their daughter's grave.
Mrs Watts said: "It is bad enough losing Esme but to lose this now is just another blow and one they could do without at their age. They are 88 and it is just too much really. I don't understand why someone would do that, it goes with the gravestone and just looked lovely there."
Mrs Jelbert was buried at Longstones Cemetery in Carbis Bay at a packed funeral earlier this year.
Her gravestone was placed at the beginning of this month and the vase was put there just a few weeks ago. The theft was discovered by one of Mrs Jelbert's brother-in-laws when he went to take flowers to the cemetery last week.
Mrs Watts said: "There is nothing there to say what might have happened. We are just hoping that someone might find it because it is quite distinctive and that they do return it to us because that is what we want."
Mrs Jelbert was one of five brothers and sisters who grew up in Hayle.
She moved away when she married and went to work in Hampshire but returned to Cornwall, as she had always planned to do, when she retired from her job as an accountant's receptionist.
After returning to the area, Mrs Jelbert threw herself into working for the community and restoring the Passmore Edwards Institute.
Mrs Watts said: "My father was chairman of the institute and he was always involved in it. When he retired and my sister came back, she more or less took up the restoration. She did a wonderful job and spent many hours there."
Mrs Jelbert was also involved with the chamber of commerce and the Old Cornwall Society.
Her sister added: "She was just so busy and then when she got breast cancer we just couldn't believe it."
Mrs Jelbert had two children, Mark and Amanda, and three grandchildren, James, Jay and Jack.
Anyone with any information about the missing remembrance vase should contact Johanna Carr on 01736 335515.