Heartache as items are stolen from grave of HPV vaccine activist Laura Brennan

Heartache as items are stolen from grave of HPV vaccine activist Laura Brennan

THE FAMILY of Laura Brennan have pleaded with the thieves who are repeatedly stealing items from graves to stop.

Laura Brennan, who passed away in March of 2019, became a household name across Ireland for dedicating the remainder of her life to preventing unnecessary deaths from cervical cancer.

Laura threw herself into a life of advocacy upon learning at the age of 25 that she was suffering with an incurable cervical cancer caused by HPV, an entirely avoidable disease had she been given the HPV vaccine while in secondary school.

Her heartbroken family appeared on Newstalk Breakfast this morning where they revealed that a number of items have been stolen from her grave since her passing last year.

Her father Larry stressed that they don't believe Laura's grave is being specifically targeted, as other families have been devastated with items being taken from graves, but it is still hugely upsetting for everyone involved.

"The thing that upset us the most was the memorial plaque - a print of her memorial card which was enlarged and placed at the front of the grave. It was a special gift," he told the programme.

An image shared by the Health Service Executive following Laura Brennan's passing age 26 (Source: HSE)

"We had a stool taken, believe it or not," he said.

"We used to go up and sit beside the grave on a little stool. Bouquets of flowers [being taken] are common enough, her friends had left bouquets of flowers for her birthday and anniversary.

"And digging up plants took place in the first year as well."

Other graves in Ennis's Drumcliffe Cemetery and across the country were being targeted by thieves, Mr Brennan said, and they wanted to raise awareness of the further pain the actions were causing to grief-stricken families.

"A husband who has lost a wife, a wife who has lost a husband, other kids up there who have been buried. Parents and families have lost stuff unnecessarily," he stated.

He pleaded with the thieves to have some compassion for those who are grieving their loved ones.

Since Laura Brennan's death, her legacy has resulted in the uptake of the HPV vaccine rising from just over 50% to 80%, and in her home county of Clare it has shot up to 90%.