A RARE medal awarded to First World War pilots for gallantry, which was discovered in a dusty attic in Purbeck, has fetched thousands at auction.

Pensioner Ian Dickson, who was in his 80s, died at Christmas and an auctioneer was invited to carry out a probate valuation of his possessions at his home in Swanage.

Incredibly the auctioneer discovered an Air Force Cross, which had been awarded to Mr Dickson's father Second Lieutenant Clift Dickson in 1918, and several other general service medals in a plastic carrier bag in the loft.

Around 680 Air Force Crosses were awarded to officers in the Great War for courage or devotion to duty while flying, although not in operations against the enemy.

Incredibly the silver military decoration went under the hammer at Cottees Auctions Ltd on Tuesday for a staggering £2,400.

Auctioneer John Condie said: "It's becoming increasingly unusual to find valuable objects in this way because more and more people are aware of what they've got these days.

"At the moment is seems like any medals from World War One or earlier are selling, although I don't really know why.

"Maybe it's because we are coming up to the centenary of the First World War people are stockpiling medals. I've never known interest in a medal like this before."

The medal was recovered along with a miniature set and a black and white photograph of Clift Dickson, who was a prominent member of the RAF football team in the early 1920s.

A scrapbook, compiled by him, which contained many newspaper cuttings, football programmes and black and white photographs relating to Uxbridge Town, the Middlesex FA and the RAF football team was sold in a separate lot for £320.