Fears have been raised for the welfare of the well-known St Helens character, Johnny Wellies.
A number of readers have contacted the Reporter over recent days with concerns that bearded Johnny has not been spotted in any of his usual town centre haunts.
One reader, who asked not to be named, said: “I usually see Johnny at least twice a day, once on my way to work and once while I’m out on my lunch break.
“Everyone in St Helens knows Johnny and I am a little bit worried about him because I’ve not seen him and none of my work colleague have, either.
“It’s not the sort of thing you report to the authorities, is it? After all, he’s a grown man and just because he’s not been around doesn’t mean anything untoward has happened but I am still worried and wondered if anyone else has seen him.”
Johnny is a well-known figure across St Helens and frequently hangs out in locations across the town centre, particularly the Hardshaw Centre.
Known for his bushy beard and fondness for mints, which he often offers to aghast passers-by, he frequently stays at various homeless shelters and hostels but has also been known to sleep rough.
Generations of Sintelliners know about Johnny Wellies, with websites, Twitter profiles and Facebook pages set up in tribute to him.
Another reader called the Reporter to say she had not seen Johnny since last week.
“I worry about him because he is obviously getting on a bit although goodness known how old he really is,” she said.
“He is a poor soul and I hope he is being looked after. I think some people have a laugh about Johnny but also a lot of people have a great deal of affection for him because he’s obviously been through a lot.
“I just hope he’s okay.”