AN AMNESTY has been announced by a York company, to help track down a missing painting.

Ye White Rose of York was painted by Walter West in 1891 as a commission for Rowntree's, now Nestle, and symbolises York and the chocolate industry.

The painting features a serving girl dressed in white - the colour of the York rose - and wearing the crossed keys of St Peter - the real name of York Minster - around her waist, and a Quaker-style cap, after the Rowntree family's religious roots.

The girl is carrying a pot of cocoa and white roses, and represents the Quakers of York serving chocolate to the British public.

Alex Hutchinson, archivist and historian with Nestle, said the last verified sighting of the painting was in 1951, but another black and white photo seemed to have been taken slightly later, and showed signs of damage to the painting.

She said: "I've analysed the photos and I'm convinced it's the same one, not a copy. Possibly a member of staff tried to restore it and didn't do a great job and doesn't want anyone to know. I'm offering amnesty if they get in touch, it's okay, we just want it back, whatever state it's in.

"This looks like someone's had a go at it but it's just so frustrating that we have so little information to go on with this, no indication of what's happened just this tantalising glimpse of the painting which suggests it has been tampered with in some way and vanished."

Alex said she hoped someone reading The Press may know what happened to the painting, or know someone who does, and would get in touch with Nestle to help return it to the company so it can be properly restored and put on public display.

If you have seen the original painting, or have any information which could help locate it, tweet @NestleUKNews or phone the Consumer Services care line free on 00800 63785385 or 0800 000030.

Alternatively, write to Consumer Services, Nestlé UK Ltd, Haxby Road, York, YO91 1XY.