NatWest misplaces £20,000 of family heirlooms

"How can you trust a bank that loses something like that?"

After a six-month-long hunt, NatWest is still unable to locate a safety deposit box containing £20,000 of jewellery and heirlooms.

The loss was discovered when a 69-year-old woman went to collect the contents for a wedding. Staff at the branch of NatWest bank where the box was supposed to be in safe-keeping told Hayat Panwar they could not find it.

"I went in and I had the box number and a set of keys, but they said they couldn't find it," she said.

"I cried, I was so upset.

"It makes no sense to me - how they could lose it?

"How can you trust a bank that loses something like that?"

The box contained several sentimental items including her father's gold pocket watch and wedding jewellery made from Indian gold given to her by her late mother and grandmother.

Mrs Panwar said she broke down in tears when she was told the news at the branch in Solihull, Birmingham.

She said her health has suffered and she has been "sick with worry" since being told of the loss in November 2012.

After almost six months of investigations, NatWest has so far been unable to trace the deposit box and has apologised.

Mrs Panwar, of Cheswick Green, Solihull, said the bank has now asked her to supply a value for the goods so they can discuss compensation.

"I'm not interested in money," she said.

"The money is worthless to me, the items are sentimental and no amount of money would pay for it."

She said she had planned to pass the jewellery on to her daughter, sons and grandchildren.

A spokesman for NatWest said: "We apologise to Mrs Panwar that we have so far been unable to locate her safe custody box deposited with us in February 2009.

"We continue to do all we can to locate the box, to try to bring about the very best outcome for the customer.

"In addition, we have made a request for information from Mrs Panwar as to the contents of the safe custody box in order to discuss compensation to go some way to make amends for the loss she has experienced."

The bank said it has been keeping Mrs Panwar regularly updated on the progress of its investigation as to what has happened to the deposit box.