The first thing to ask is what you mean by " We had down loaded all the photos and were taking a back up when the lap top broke..."
If you had copied the images from the hard drive you do have a back-up, so at least you haven't lost the images of your deceased relative. That doesn't make the situation with PC World any the less serious of course.
You don't say what was wrong with your laptop in the first place, but from what you do say it seems that when it was returned after repair the hard drive had undergone a system restore, effectively wiping all data files, and that you received a promise of a forensic data recovery operation. This would necessarily be done by a third party, and seems that this is what was offered. No doubt you would have been advised at the time that there is no guarantee that in these circumstances all data can be fully restored.
That a whole year has passed without any sign of your laptop being returned to you is almost beyond belief,it's certainly the most extreme case of appalling customer service that I have so far heard of, and in your position I would be very angry indeed, to put it mildly.
At this point I must state quite clearly that our experience in this forum over many years is that it can be extremely difficult to get matters like this resolved by PC World. I have contacted the company by email on numerous occasions in the past on behalf of consumers, and in most cases I have not received any response at all. That isn't to say that it's not worth trying again however, and I have contacted the company on your behalf. let's wait a day or so to see if I get any response - I'll update you via this thread if and when I hear anything.