By Andy Tong andy@timesoftonbridge.co.uk

MEMENTO Maureen Buss

A PENSIONER who had her purse snatched in Tonbridge has been left heart-broken by the loss of a treasured photograph of her deceased son.

Maureen Buss, 82, has carried the picture with her since David passed away five years ago at the age of 55 from of a cancerous tumour in his brain.

The incident took place on March 14 after she had taken out her pension in WH Smith in the High Street, were the Post Office is now situated.

She has reported the matter to the police, who have reviewed camera footage inside the shop, but they have been unable to determine where the purse went missing.

Mrs Buss recalls: “I went into the Post Office in Smiths to pick up my pension, then I went to pay for a craft magazine I get. After that I went to Bonmarché [clothing store in the High Street] and I found I didn’t have my purse anymore.

“It’s only three minutes between the two shops, and I’m almost sure it was taken in Smiths.

“The police looked at the CCTV and they’ve seen me handing over the money at the counter but they can’t see me dropping my purse.”

Maureen suspects someone had been watching her. “That’s the only thing I can think,” she said. “Now the Post Office has been moved to Smiths there are so many aisles you can hide behind.

‘I feel like I’ve been violated, I’m looking over my shoulder the whole time’

“I had a bigger pension than usual that week – how else did they know I had so much money?”

But it was the loss of the photograph which has left her distraught. “I’ve had the photo of David in my purse since he died five years ago.

“That’s what hurts more than anything, losing the photo. I feel like I’ve been violated, I’m -looking over my shoulder the whole time. If they were desperate for money they only had to ask.”

The experience has left her traumatised and she feels unsure about doing her shopping now. “I feel very nervous about it,” she confided. “My other son, Paul, took me to the Post Office to get my pension last week and I was shaking a bit.

“Then I went down to Beales to get a new purse, and I had a hell of a job getting my money out, I was shaking like a leaf. The shop assistant must have thought I was a very peculiar person, but I couldn’t tell her why.”

Maureen still visits the Pickering Cancer Drop-in Centre in Tunbridge Wells every week where David used to go for counselling. They have provided her with friendship and emotional support.

But she says it was a struggle to catch the bus there last week, and her younger son came to pick her up and take her home.

She is not holding out any hope of recovering the lost image. “It would mean a great deal to me if I could get that picture back,” she said.

“But Paul looked in a lot of rubbish bins that day and he couldn’t find anything. I told him it had probably been thrown in the river.”