THE family of missing Northwich man Tony Wardle are remaining ‘as positive as we can’ after Cheshire Police announced that they were scaling back their search.

Michael Anthony Wardle, 50 and known locally as Tony, was last seen on the morning of Monday, August 19 at the Pheasant pub near Tattenhall.

Cheshire Police say that they have ‘exhausted all lines of enquiry’ before taking the difficult decision to scale down the search.

But this has not deterred Tony’s friends and family, who remain as determined as ever to find the him and are pleading for him to return home.

“Although the Police have scaled back their search, Tony’s family and friends are still doing everything in our power to find him and are remaining as positive as we can,” said his brother Dave.

“We are out daily to retrace the trails and routes that he loves running down and we have been putting posters up across the area in the hope of finding him.

“If you are reading this Tony, please get in touch with the Police to let us know that you are safe.

“If any member of the public knows anything at all that may help us to find him, please contact the Police.

“There is no fear of incrimination, we just want to know what has happened and that he is ok.”

Tony is described as white, around 5’ 10” with a slim build and short brown/grey hair.

When he left the Pheasant pub at around 6.50am on August 19, he was wearing a bright blue waterproof jacket, a grey shirt, green/khaki shorts and white trainers with a black Nike tick logo while carrying a distinctive red walking rucksack.

Northwich Guardian:

CCTV of Tony before his disappearance

Another of Tony’s brothers, Mark wished to thank everybody who has helped with the search, as the response to his disappearance has been ‘overwhelming’.

“The police have done as much as they can on the information they had, and they have followed up every lead behind the scenes,” he added.

“We’ve got to remain positive and come together as a family, and hopefully we can find him safe and sound.

“I want to say a massive thank you to everybody who has volunteered to find him and the support that they have given us as a family, which has been really overwhelming.

“Also, the posts on social media have been shared over 165,000 times which is quite humbling, so I would like to thank everyone for that and urge them to keep up the search.

“If you are reading this Tony, please get in contact with either the police or your family to let us know that you are safe.”

An appeal has also been launched on social media by Northwich Running Club, of which Tony was a member of, and the post has been shared by concerned people all over the country.

“Although the Police have stepped down their search having carefully checked areas around Bickerton, they are still seeking information,” said a club spokesperson.

“The fantastic reaction to our social media posts has widened the area of awareness.

“A couple of possible unverified leads have come up and have been passed to the Police, who will have checked them out.

“His friends and family are clearly still very concerned and so hopefully people will keep being vigilant.”

READ>CCTV shows last sighting of missing man Tony Wardle

Since his disappearance, Cheshire Constabulary has undertaken a comprehensive and extensive operation as part of continued efforts to locate him.

However despite their best and determined efforts, they have taken the difficult decision to scale back their search.

Supt Richard Rees, who has been involved in the search, said: “It has now been more than 10 days since Tony disappeared and we are extremely concerned about his welfare, although I would like to reassure the community that there is no evidence to suggest any foul play.

“Since Tony was reported missing, the team here at Northwich, supported by a number of partner agencies and volunteers, has conducted a detailed search operation across the Bickerton area.

“This has included support from Cheshire Search and Rescue, the Cave Rescue team, Staffordshire Search and Rescue, Swaildale Mountain Rescue and the National Police Air Support unit.

“In addition, we have also reviewed CCTV footage, conducted house to house enquiries and followed a number of lines of enquiry based on information received from the community.

“Despite all of our efforts, there has been no trace of Tony since August 19 and having exhausted all lines of enquiry, we have now taken the difficult decision to scale down the search phase of our operation.

“Tony’s family have been informed. They understand reasons behind the decision and they are supportive of this; they are currently being supported by specialist officers at this difficult time.

READ> Police launch appeal to find missing Northwich man

“I want to reassure you that while the search phase of this operation has now been scaled back, our investigation into Tony’s disappearance remains ongoing and we will act on any new information that we receive.

“If you know where Tony is, or you have any information about his disappearance, call the team here at Northwich on 101.

“I would also like to take this as an opportunity to thank everyone who has assisted in the search.

“In particular I would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication shown by all of the volunteers.

"Throughout the search the teams have been working 12-hour days as part of their efforts to locate Tony.”

Anyone with any information in relation to the whereabouts of Tony is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number IML 490688.

Information can also be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.