A Birmingham man who received the George Cross for bravery after he rescued a colleague has died at the age of 86.

Charles Wilcox, who lived in Tennal Road, Harborne, worked as a painter and decorator for the Birmingham Corporation.

While employed by the company, Mr Wilcox received the award for gallantry for his help in saving 21-year-old Leslie Burrows on August 23, 1949.

Mr Wilcox, then aged 30, had been given the task of painting the exterior of a Birmingham Corporation building. Mr Burrows, a less experienced painter, climbed a ladder to begin work on a third-floor outside window.

But when he stepped onto the sill, he found there was no handhold for him to keep his balance. In a state of panic he crouched down on the sill and was unable to move.

Mr Wilcox came to the rescue by positioning himself on the end of an adjacent window arch and knelt down on a piece of masonry.

As the pair waited for the fire brigade's arrival 45 minutes later, Mr Wilcox remained calm and supported the young worker.

Had Mr Burrows made a single involuntary movement, the pair would have plunged to their death. After their rescue, the pair were undisturbed by the experience.

Mr Wilcox was awarded the Edward Medal (Mines) for his act of bravery. He was among the last to receive that particular honour as it was abolished in 1949.

In 1971, it was announced that all surviving holders could exchange their medal for the George Cross and he received his GC in March 1973 at Buckingham Palace.

Born in Birmingham in 1919, Mr Wilcox was educated at Olser Street School, Ladywood, and Raddleburn Road School, Selly Oak.

He began work with the Birmingham Corporation at the age of 14, and remained with the company until 1965. He then worked as a car assembler until his retirement in 1980.

Mr Wilcox also served during the Second World War with the First Battalion, the South Staffordshire Regiment in Palestine and the Western Desert as a machine-gunner.

In spite of his acts of bravery, Mr Wilcox's son-in-law John Dugdale, said he never liked to be fussed over.

Mr Dugdale, who married Mr Wilcox's eldest daughter Lorraine 20 years ago, said: "Charlie was a very unassuming man and he was not a big fuss man. He did not take great delight in speaking about his medal.

"He was a nice, genuine man and a man of opinion. His favourite saying was 'there are no heroes, there are just people who happen to be in the right place at the right time'."

Eileen Startin,a friend of Mr Wilcox's daughter Debbie, said: "I thought he was a lovely man. I moved into the flat below his daughter and he used to come over for dinner.

"I used to go around to the house a few years ago. He would start chatting with me and would make me feel very welcome. We used to talk about many things."

As well as his two daughters, Mr Wilcox left his wife Edith and his son Bob. A funeral service will be held at Lodge Hill Crematorium on April 13 at 12.30pm. Donations can be made to Saint Mary's Hospice.