A woman has “lost faith” in Royal Mail after a parcel she sent to her sick friend in a bid to cheer her up arrived empty.

Jane Theobald bought a small plastic tube of Estee Lauder make-up for £35, thinking it would give her friend, Barbara Klinger, who is fighting ovarian cancer, a much-needed morale boost.

Mrs Theobald sent the £4 package by first-class post last Tuesday, thinking it would be safe in the hands of Royal Mail.

But, according to Mrs Theobald, when Mrs Klinger received it the following day it was empty, having been opened.

Mrs Theobald said: “She was really looking forward to this make-up as I had told her how good it was. She needed something to cheer her up as her cancer is very bad and not going away.

“When she opened it, it was empty, nothing inside, it had been stolen. She told me her heart sank and she felt gutted.”

The 77-year-old of Ardingly Road, Saltdean, added: “I wouldn’t mind if Barbara was young and robust but she isn’t.

“I’m so annoyed. It’s not the money – it’s what it symbolises.

“It was so disappointing to hear she got an empty package – you kind of lose faith gradually.”

Mrs Theobald posted her parcel from the Post Office in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, a branch she says she “trusts implicitly”.

Mrs Klinger, 71, spends hours at a time in hospital at the moment in her battle against cancer.

Mrs Theobald added: “I was really upset – poor lady, she's as low as can be, and someone steals her make-up.”

Her husband Kevin posted on a local online forum and said others reported similar experiences.

Mrs Theobald has since sent another gift, this time by recorded delivery, which Mrs Klinger did receive, and is in the process of going through a complaints procedure with Royal Mail so it can investigate.

“You shouldn’t have to do insure a parcel to stop these things happening,” she added.

Royal Mail spokesperson Sally Hopkins said: “Royal Mail is concerned to hear of Ms Theobald’s experience.

“We deliver 58 million items of mail every day and the vast majority arrive at the correct destination quickly and efficiently.

“If anyone has any queries about their post, they should contact Royal Mail Customer Services on 03457 740740 in the first instance so the enquiry can be properly logged and investigated.”