Vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan's grave targeted by thieves

Vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan's grave targeted by thieves
Laura Brennan: Became a household name as she advocated in favour of the HPV vaccine.

HPV vaccine awareness campaigner Laura Brennan’s grave has been targeted by thieves.

Since she died in March 2019, a range of items have been stolen. 

They include flowers, a specially made metal memorial plaque, and a stool.

Her distraught parents Larry and Bernie told the Irish Examiner: “It is tough enough dealing with Laura’s death. But we never imagined we would ever have to deal with this sort of behaviour.

"This is sadly a sign of the society we are now living in."

Laura became a household name after she contracted terminal cervical cancer in September 2017. 

Almost immediately she contacted the HSE and volunteered advocate publicly in favour of the HPV vaccine. 

At the time, uptake of the HPV vaccine was an all-time low.

By the time she died, usage of the vaccine rose 50% in some parts of the country to around 90%.

Awareness of her campaign really took off when she made a moving and emotional appearance on the Late Late Show in April 2018.

She died on March 20, 2019, at her home in Clarecastle, Co Clare, surrounded by her family.

Her remains were buried at a private family service at Drumcliffe Cemetery outside Ennis.

But just two weeks after she was laid to rest there, Bernie and Larry discovered things missing from the grave.

At first they thought it was because of the fact that so many people had known her. 

They later discovered that other graves in the graveyard had also been targeted by thieves.

Those affected have all lost the same items: Plaques, flowers, furniture.

In one case, two small rose bushes a family had planted over a grave were dug up and taken away.

Bernie said: “It started happening about three weeks after she passed. 

"There was a remembrance plaque we got a gift of and that was taken. 

"And then on her birthday, close friends had left flowers and a couple of the bouquets were taken and again on her first anniversary in March.

“But we are not alone. It has happened to a good few graves across the graveyard and in other graveyards right across Co Clare.”

Larry said: “The plaque was specific to Laura and consisted of Laura’s memorial card superimposed on a metal plate from a friend.

“We’ve had a stool taken from alongside the grave as well. 

"We’ve replaced that now with another stool but we’ve had to put a brass plate on it.

The plaque is of no value only to us and someone just took it away.

He added: “We are only going public because we want to raise awareness of the problem. 

"Laura was great at raising awareness about the HPV vaccine.

“We would urge people to put markings on flower pots or other items, so if they do end up in a car boot sale, they might think twice before purchasing it.”

Laura was described at her funeral Mass at St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ennis as “a selfless giver” who spent her energy “to the last” so others could be spared what she went through.

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