A rare silver Polar medal awarded to a trail-blazing Antarctic explorer from Birmingham has been sold for £21,850 at auction.
The precious octagonal award belonged to James McIlroy who was a surgeon on Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1916 Endurance expedition.
Following Mr McIlroy's death in 1968, the whereabouts of his Polar medal were a mystery until they recently turned up in Africa - where the adventurer briefly worked as a cotton farmer.
The medal was sold to an unnamed telephone bidder at auction in London earlier this month.
James McIlroy was born in Northern Ireland in 1879 but spent much of his early life in Birmingham. He and his parents and three sisters,Esther,Ruby and Effie, lived at Grove Avenue,Grafton, Kings Norton, and he was educated at Camp Hill grammar school at Kings Heath,before becoming a medical student at Birmingham University. He later rose to the position of house surgeon at a city hospital.
But his life changed forever when he answered a newspaper advertisement, which said: "Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold,long months of complete darkness,constant danger,safe return doubtful,honour and recognition in case of success." It was an invitation McIlroy found impossible to resist.
Eighteen of the Endurance team's 28 adventurers received silver Polar medals while six others received bronze awards.
For reasons never divulged, Shackleton refused to give medals to the other four men.