FRIENDS gathered to bid farewell to one of Bolton’s best-loved characters who peddled bits and bobs in the town centre.

Bernard Mills was known to thousands of shoppers for selling goods from his wheelchair in Victoria Square.

He had no known family in Bolton, and his funeral yesterday was arranged by friends who knew him as a regular at Tonge Ward Labour Club.

The Rev Greg Yerbury, rector of Leverhulme, described Mr Mills as “a friend to some and a landmark to many”.

Mr Yerbury said: “He was not a trader who relied on sympathy, he was a trader because he was good at it.”

To his friends at Tonge Ward club, Mr Mills was known for his valuable contribution to his quiz team.

He had cerebral palsy, but his condition did not stop him making a living through his street trading, and he earned enough to go on holiday to Florida every year.

Mourners filled the West Chapel at Overdale Crematorium, and many were reduced to tears as they filed out of the chapel, to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

Mr Yerbury described Mr Mills’ determination to overcome his disabilities as inspirational.

He said: “Bernard was a hard worker who never let his disability get the better of him.

“He was a popular person who will take a long time to fade from our memories.”