'Give us beer or Lawrence gets it!'

CHEEKY drinkers who made off with life-size cut-outs of an England rugby legend are holding pubs to ransom for their safe return.

Laurence Cawley

CHEEKY drinkers who made off with life-size cut-outs of an England rugby legend are holding pubs to ransom for their safe return.

A number of the 6ft 4ins cut-outs of Lawrence Dallaglio, who is Bury St Edmunds-based brewer Greene King's official ambassador, have disappeared from pubs in recent weeks.

The cardboard figures are part of the brewer's promotion of IPA and were sent to a number of Greene King pubs so drinkers could enjoy watching this year's Six Nations Championship with the 2003 World Cup winning star.

But it has now emerged that a number of the 6ft 4in cut outs have been stolen by rogue drinkers who have then demanded payment in beer in return for his safe return.

Greene King spokeswoman Frances Brace said: “We've had a number of reports of this.

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“One person from our public relations agency saw people walking into a restaurant with their very own Lawrence Dallaglio.

“One of my neighbours stopped one being stolen from our local public house. And in another incident, one was taken from a pub and the landlord is being sent pictures of the Lawrence Dallaglio cut out in people's bathrooms and living rooms.

“Those who took it are demanding a ransom of beer and are writing letters saying things like 'we really need that ransom or Lawrence gets it'.”

One pub affected by the Lawrence Dallaglio cut-out saga is The Bushel public house in St Johns Street, Bury.

Landlady Christine Shaves told how her pub's Lawrence Dallaglio had mysteriously gone missing and nothing had been heard of the cut-out's whereabouts since his sudden disappearance.

“While he was here, he kept getting picked up and thrown about the pub. But now he's not on the premises at all. He's done a disappearing act and we've not heard from him at all.”

The thefts have stunned the real Mr Dallaglio, who said: “Thanks to the EADT for letting me know of the plight of my doppelgangers, I am totally shocked that this could have happened to such harmless chaps.

“It is dreadful to contemplate what they might be suffering, being taken from location to location, never sure whether they'll be returned to their respective pubs for the next game of England Rugby; not knowing if they'll ever again be in the company of other rugby lovers enjoying their pints of Greene King IPA together.”

GREENE King has kindly supplied the EADT with two of the highly desirable life-size Lawrence Dallaglio cut-outs which we are delighted to put up for grabs to the two highest bidders. Money raised by the EADT's Lawrence Dallaglio auction will go to St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds and St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich. To enter, please send your name, address, telephone number and your bid to Dallaglio Auction, East Anglian Daily Times, 11 Woolhall Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1LA by midnight on March 18 - just in time for the last weekend of the RBS Six Nations Championship. The top two bids will secure the cut out Lawrences with all proceeds going to St Nicholas Hospice and St Elizabeth Hospice. Winners will be expected to collect their cut outs from their nearest EADT office. Normal Archant terms and conditions apply - available on request.