A LION statue worth almost £10,000 and which "weighs as much as a small horse" has been stolen from a business near Bromyard.

Holloways, a furniture and antiques business in Suckley on the Worcestershire border, is now offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to the lion's return.

Weighing in at 300 kilograms, the firm believed the bronze sculpture was lifted over a five foot spiked metal fence by a "gang" on Thursday evening.

Having been sat in the courtyards at Holloways for the last five years, the lion – affectionately called Aslan, after the animal in CS Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – measure 2.3 metres long and 1.2 meters high.

Holloways said it could take as many as six people to lift the "massive" statue, and it "weighs as much as a small horse".

The firm said it bought the statue ­– worth £9,500 – from a private house sale in Leicestershire, with the lion having one paw half raised. It dates back to the mid-20th century.

Edward Holloway, who has run the family business with his wife Diana for the past 30 years, is offering £1,000 for information leading to the distinctive lion’s recovery.

“We’re incredibly upset that Holloways has been targeted and that Aslan has been taken,” Mr Holloway said.

“We’ve always struggled to move him around our premises and we’re absolutely astonished they managed to lift him over the fence.

“Thursday night was cold, dark and wet, and both Aslan and the ground would have been slippy.

“It would have taken six, maybe more, people to lift him and it’s highly likely they had a 4x4 to get back out across the fields without getting stuck.

“Someone must have seen something. Someone must know something.”

Edward fears the much-loved bronze was either stolen to order, or may already have been sent to be melted down – for a fraction of its value.

“We’re offering a thousand pounds for information which leads to Aslan's recovery,” he added.

“Please do get in touch with the police on the numbers below.

“Rural crime is escalating and the perpetrators need to be caught.”

The NFU Rural Crime Report 2021 shows theft in the countryside cost the UK an estimated £43.3 million last year.

The insurer blamed “skilled and highly-organised criminals” for the continuing plague on farms and other rural businesses.

West Mercia Police is investigating.

Anyone with any information or who may have seen the statue for sale is asked to visit the police website, quoting reference 300 of November 29.

Alternatively, witnesses can call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.