A HUGE search has been launched for a missing pensioner, who vanished almost a week ago.

Police and friends have rallied round to try to find 70-year-old Norman Johnson, from Tonge Moor.

Mr Johnson, who may be in the early stages of dementia, was last seen at around 7.30pm on Tuesday at a line dancing class at the Monaco Ballroom in Hindley.

His friend, Colin Sweeney, who lives with the pensioner, now fears the worst.

Mr Sweeney, aged 65, said: “It is a mystery. I am preparing myself for the worst but am still hopeful.

I am worried he has been in an accident.”

The retired weaver managed to speak to Mr Johnson in the early hours of Wednesday after trying to contact him from 11.30pm the night before.

He says his friend said his car had been stolen.

Mr Sweeney added: “It looks like his short-term memory has been affected and that night he could not park in his usual spot and I think he had forgotten where it was.

“When I spoke to him he was walking and said he was going to Hindley. I tried to establish where he was, so I could send a taxi.

“I told him not to worry and to get a taxi back.”

The phone call ended and Mr Sweeney immediately called the police.

Mr Sweeney described his friend as a popular man who would do anything for anybody.

He was a dog trainer for Guide Dogs for the Blind in Bolton. Anglican churches across Bolton have now put out a message asking people to look for Mr Johnson.

Dog walkers are also looking for him when they are out with their pets, along with ex-workers for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Mr Sweeney said: “I am going to take my dogs walking in the area to see if they can sniff a trail.

“I have had messages from so many people asking if Norman has been found.”

Detectives believe Mr Johnson could be in Hindley.

Det Insp Andy Cunliffe, from Bolton CID said: “We are working around the clock to try to find Norman and, obviously, we are extremely worried about his welfare.

“He does not have his prescribed medication and I am appealing to the community, especially in and around the Hindley area, to be on the lookout for him.

“Norman may well have sought shelter, so it is vitally important the public help us with this investigation by checking their outhouses or sheds.”

Mr Johnson was driving a silver Vauxhall Astra, reg no FE53 WZU, which was found in Danes Avenue in Hindley on Thursday.

Detectives have established through his phone signal that he could be in or around the Coupland estate in Hindley Green.

They are appealing for those in the area in the early hours, such as those going to work, to cast their minds back to the night Mr Johnson disappeared.

Mr Johnson is white, 5ft 7in to 5ft 8in tall, of slim build, with short grey hair, a thick grey moustache and he was wearing gold rimmed glasses.

He was last seen wearing a black suit with a black jumper that had a grey band around the middle and black boots.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the CID office at Bolton on 0161 856 2161.