ONE of Bognor Regis’ most popular symbols of the past has gone missing.
Billy Bulb has disappeared from his resting place. One of his biggest fans, Jim Brooks, is worried about the fate which could befall the mascot of the illuminations gala and many other community events.
He said: “I have no idea what has happened to Billy.
“There is some talk of a ransom being demanded with the money raised going to help the seafront illuminations.
“But I only hope that whoever has got Billy will look after him. He’s a valued friend of Bognor and I would not want any harm to come to him.”
Billy was built in 1979 for the town’s first illuminations gala by Jim’s father, Hal Brooks.
He is made of fibre glass and stands about 6ft tall and up to 6ft wide. Billy instantly became popular.
His fans issued a record which featured him in 1980 to raise money for the lights, and businessman Graham Parsons wrote a strip cartoon for a local newspaper about his exploits.
Billy made frequent appearances at community events until about ten years ago. His age began to catch up with him and he was temporarily retired.
One of Mr Brooks’ colleagues, Tim Hoad, mentioned the prospect of restoring Billy recently and former town mayor Mr Brooks tracked him down to a yard in North Bersted.
He said: “Some of his undercarriage looked in need of work and some of the wood was in a poor condition.”
That was last week and Mr Brooks said he would return on Monday to take a closer look at Billy. But he found out Billy had been seen being towed away behind a white van. That is all he was told.
He has asked anyone with information about Billy to phone him on 01243 861066.