AN 83-year-old woman has had her wedding ring and an old love letter stolen from her hospital bedside while undergoing major surgery.

Sick thieves targeted frail Shirley Robertson while she was in Inverclyde Royal having a hip replacement.

Now her outraged son is offering a reward in a desperate bid to get the items of huge sentimental value safely returned.

Shirley’s family were distraught after discovering the 40-year-old letter from her husband had gone, along with the 24 carat wedding ring and cash.

Now her son, a former care worker, is desperate to trace the valuables.

Graham, 51, said: “We are just gutted that this could happen.

“They are of huge sentimental value and were stolen while my mum was in theatre.

“We would be willing to give money that was more than the ring is worth, just to get them back.

“I am deeply shocked that this has happened.

“My mum is making a very slow recovery from her hip operation.

“She suffers from osteoporosis and badly needed the operation.”

Mrs Robertson was admitted to K North, room nine, and underwent surgery on her hip on Tuesday.

She later discovered that her purse had disappeared from her bag.

Son Graham, who has been visiting along with his dad John, aged 85, said: “Mum is very alert but struggles physically and left the bag by her bedside.

“Her purse was inside when she went for the operation.

“It wasn’t her usual purse, she just used it for the hospital which is why the letter from my dad was inside.

“She came out of surgery about 5pm on the Tuesday, was recovering and didn’t realise it was gone until Wednesday afternoon.

The family alerted the members of staff on the ward and the police.

Graham, who lives in Bridge of Weir, added: “My mum said that the police officers were so kind and helpful and said that they would check all the usual places for the ring.

“My mum blames herself.

“She said that whoever did it must badly need the money to do this.

“I would give the money myself if they just gave us back the ring and the letter.

“I also wish I had made sure they were safe before we left her.”

Shirley, who is a retired teacher and worked with children with learning disabilities, married merchant seaman John 58 years ago.

John’s brother, the late Alistair Robertson, ran a building firm in Greenock which built the Hector McNeil baths.

The couple have been overwhelmed by messages of support from people in Inverclyde.

The purse is mauve in colour and the ring is in an octagonal cut band which had to be reduced in size and is flat on one side.

Constable David Starrett is investigating the theft and has appealed for information from members of the public.

Anyone with information should contact PC Starrett on 101 or anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.