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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Artists appeal for stolen puppet
Treebeard puppet (picture by Rhys Webber)
Treebeard was next due to appear at the Mas Carnival in Swansea
A group of artists are appealing for help to find a giant Lord of the Rings puppet stolen at the Womad Festival.

The 14ft (4.3m) effigy of the character Treebeard was taken from the children's tent on Monday afternoon, along with the troupe's tools, worth 300.

The group, from south Wales, spent the weekend helping children make costumes for a parade, with Treebeard the star.

Men in a white Ford Escort van were seen strapping the puppet to their roof at the festival in Reading, Berkshire.

Thames Valley Police were alerted but did not spot the van leaving the event.

Artist Andy O'Rourke told the BBC News website: "It's really gutting as Treebeard was our pride and joy.

"He was specially built for the procession on Sunday and the children helped decorate him with butterflies.

"The parade was based on the elements - earth, wind, fire and water - and Treebeard was the big earth creature. He caused a stir and thousands of people would have seen him."

Treebeard was due to appear at the Swansea Mas Carnival on August Bank Holiday, with a samba band.

Mr O'Rourke, from Newport, has urged anyone who might see the puppet to contact the Womad organisers.

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