A LASTING tribute is being planned for popular Bolton town centre trader Bernard Mills.

Friends of Mr Mills want to place a memorial flagstone bearing his name and a few words — similar to those in Churchgate — on the spot he had his stall.

Mr Mills, who died in February, was familiar to thousands of shoppers for selling assorted items from his wheelchair in Victoria Square.

But before he set up shop, he was better known as a Bolton Evening News vendor.

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

Following his death, thousands of people backed a Facebook campaign calling for a statue of the “iconic” town centre trader.

Close friend Fred Atherton, aged 64, from Tonge Moor, said: “It was not feasible or practical to have a statue, but a tribute to Bernard is important. So many people knew him.”

Another friend, Alison Kay-Smith, who lived near Mr Mills, said: “He was an inspiration. He never let his condition, cerebral palsy, stop him from working or travelling."

Now a fundraising drive led by the pair and Len Jones, aged 59, of Breightmet, is under way to raise the hundreds of pounds needed, and they say they have had permission from the council to install the flag.

A bank account has been set up and Bernard’s friends are hoping an organisation can loan them collection boxes to put in town centre shops.

Money left over from the cost of the flagstone will be donated to charities which fund research and offer support to people with cerebral palsy.

Donations can be made at Nationwide Building Society giving the following details: sortcode 070093; account number 33333334; ref 0772/704032269. For information and to help with providing collection boxes email bernardmillsmemorial@ yahoo.co.uk