A BRADFORD on Avon pensioner is pleading for the return of a treasured garden ornament she has kept for the past 20 years.

Janet Jory, 80, put the statue of St Francis of Assisi outside her front door when she moved to Abbey Mill in Church Street.

Since May last year, there the 20-inch high stone figure has stood - admired by local residents and visitors alike.

Until one day last week, when Janet and her husband, Peter, were away in Cornwall visiting her poorly grand-daughter Mia Uren.

During the two days she was away from home - on Thursday and Friday, January 4 and 5 - the statue was stolen.

Janet said: "We came back home on Saturday to find that he had gone. I am very upset.

"I bought the statue when I retired and I've had him for 20 years. I don't know who has taken him, whether it was children or somebody else.

"All I can say to the person responsible is please return him, just put him back where he was.

"It's not the money, the value does not matter. I just miss him and so does everyone else who is walking by."

St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was the patron saint of animals so the stone-cast figure has a little bird on his shoulder.

Wearing a dark brown robe, the statue peered out from behind the plant pots that Janet has outside her front door.

"He would be heavy to carry away. Whoever took him would have to lift him with two hands.

"We have looked everywhere within a 100-yard radius," said Janet. "We even looked into the River Avon in the dark with a torch."

"My grand-daughter Samantha Heard and my four great-grandchildren, Owen, 13, Finley, 9, Enzo,6, and Willow,2, have also been out searching for him.

"We live in the middle of the town so they have been all around the area looking for him."

Anyone who knows where the statue is should either return it or contact Janet on 01225 863543.