A BRAVERY medal awarded to a Renfrewshire hero of the Piper Alpha disaster has sold for £4,200 at auction.

Merchant Navy captain Ian MacKay, from Johnstone, received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal (QGM) after saving the lives of three oil workers during the 1988 tragedy, in which 167 men died.

Along with two other crew members of the diving support vessel Lowland Cavalier, he spent hours searching for survivors.

Ian, 69, who suffered burns to his nose, hand and right eye, decided to sell his QGM last month to help make sure the Piper Alpha story and victims are remembered by future generations.

The medal, which was presented at Buckingham Palace in 1991, went under the hammer at a virtual sale organised by auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb from their London office.

Father-of-four Ian, who watched the sale online, plans to use the proceeds to take his family on holiday once travel restrictions have been lifted.

Christopher Mellor-Hill, of Dix Noonan Webb, said there was considerable interest in Ian’s medal, which sold for above its reserved price.

He added: “The medal was bought by a private collector of civilian gallantry awards and we are very pleased that Mr Mackay’s story will continue to be told and remind everyone of his and his colleagues’ bravery.”

The Piper Alpha oil and gas production platform, operated by Occidental Petroleum, was located 120 miles off the coast of Aberdeen

Shortly before 10pm on July 6, 1988, leaking gas ignited, causing the first of a series of catastrophic explosions.

Of the 226 crew on the platform, 165 died and 61 were saved. Two rescuers from standby vessels also perished

Ian and his crew picked up two survivors before another huge explosion caused a fireball to sweep over the small craft and forced the crew to leap into the water for their own safety.

Despite suffering burns, Mr MacKay and his crew managed to climb back on board and kept searching for survivors for the next eight hours.

Around midnight, they located a third survivor in the water.

Captain Mackay, who now lives in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, continued to work in the offshore industry for several years after the disaster but took early retirement in 2011.