THE granddaughter of a First World War hero has slammed the ‘sick’ thieves who stole three of his medals from her Burnley home.

Jean Sanderson, of Ronald Street, Rosegrove, said the medals, earned by her grandfather Thomas Henry Lord, were ‘the most valuable things I owned’.

Mrs Sanderson, who believes the items were stolen by a cold caller, has pleaded for their safe return so she can pass them on to her own grandchildren.

Mr Lord, who died in Sabden in the 1940s, was awarded the medals - thought to be the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal - for his service with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Royal British Legion has described the theft as 'despicable'.

Mrs Sanderson, 65, said she was now scared to open her front door because of the theft.

The retired care home worker said: “They were given to me by my auntie, Ursula Lord, just before she died four years ago.

“I barely knew my grandfather and I had been planning to use the medals as a way of researching the family tree.

“I don’t understand what value they can be to anyone else but me. The person who did this is sick, and they make me feel sick.

“Looking back, maybe I was naive to let someone in, but you don’t expect someone to do this. I was in a state of shock when I noticed they were gone.”

Mrs Sanderson believes the medals were stolen by a cold caller who she invited into her home some time between March 15 and May 25.

The medals, which were kept in a chest of drawers in an upstairs bedroom, are engraved with the name TH LORD on one side and have ribbons attached to them.

A silver flute belonging to Mrs Sanderson’s daughter, Jennifer, which was stored in a black resin Yamaha carry case, was also taken. The case is lined with a burgundy material and has a handle.

Mrs Sanderson said her daughters, Christina, 40 and Jennifer, 36, and grandchildren Harry, 15, Rob, 11, and Daniel, three, were also devastated by the theft.

She said: “It’s not that often I look at them which I why I hadn’t noticed they were gone. You can still see the imprint of where the medals were in their box.

“I would ask anyone who thinks they see them for sale, at a car boot sale or wherever, to let the police know.”

Mike Sutcliffe, chairman of the Pendle branch of the Royal British Legion, said the medals - nicknamed Pip, Squeak and Wilfred - were so widely issued that their monetary value was ‘probably less than £50’.

He said: “This is a despicable and pointless act. They’re not worth all that much but that’s not the point. It will cause heart break and a loss of history for this family.

“Whoever has done this will have disappeared through the door and given the family little chance of recovery. And for what? Nothing.”

PC Nicola Breckell, of Burnley Police, said: The victim has been left feeling vulnerable and upset by this theft but her over-riding emotion is anger as she feels she has lost a connection to her family’s history.

“I would appeal for anyone who has any information or who may be offered these items for sale to contact the police.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 0729 of May 28th or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

* A 44-year-old man from Burnley was arrested on May 29 in connection with the theft but has been released without charge.