A gold medal presented to a hero contractor who helped save the Queen's possessions in the Windsor Castle fire is to be auctioned off.

Painter and decorator Peter O'Mara helped move 'many precious artefacts' to safety when the devastating blaze happened on November 20, 1992.

Peter - who was carrying out renovations at the time of the fire - rescued items from the fire and stumbled across the late Queen's private apartment which had two cardboard cut-outs of Corgis.

He was presented with a gold medallion and a letter of thanks from Her late Majesty for his help in repairing the fire-damaged castle.

It is now expected to reach £600 when it goes under the hammer.

Peter said: "At one time I was helping move the many precious artefacts from both sides of a long corridor. 

"As we completed this task, I noticed a half-open door and went in looking for other items to remove. 

"I could tell straight away the atmosphere was different here. The first thing I spied was an old-fashioned stereogram. 

"As I looked around, I noticed two cardboard cut-outs either side of the fireplace. 

"They were corgis and I suddenly realised where I was. It was fairly busy in there with staff coming and going, none of whom I recognised. 

"A clutch of people was deep in conversation off to one side. They looked like the staff top brass. 

"No one noticed me so I took one last look around and made my exit. 

Slough Observer: Medal presented to hero who saved Queen's possessions in Windsor Castle fire is going to auction

"I felt rather lucky as in no other circumstances would I ever have got to see the Queen’s apartment. 

"Tucked away in a quiet corner surrounded by such grandeur and opulence, the Queen and Prince Philip lived in the most unostentatious flat you could imagine. 

"It was the one thing that left a lasting impression on me."

It took nine hours to get the fire under control and the contractors - in on a rewiring job - helped firefighters and Royal Household staff salvage everything they could. 

One of the most challenging pieces was a 150ft long table and a 120ft carpet that had to be removed from the Waterloo Chamber.

After the blaze, Peter's bosses at Cousins Ltd secured the £36.5m repair contract.
Cousins did not forget the efforts of their workforce, writing to them five years later as the renovation project came to an end to express their thanks and appreciation. 

The Queen and Prince Philip were also grateful and Her late Majesty wrote personally to each of the contractor staff to offer their thanks.

They wrote: “Being anxious to show our appreciation of the skill and dedication, which you and the others involved in the project have devoted to it, we have had this special medallion struck to mark the completion of the restoration and it comes with our grateful thanks."

The gold medallion has the Queen’s crowned cypher on one side, along with the year 1997 (the date of the project’s completion) in Roman numerals. 

The other side shows Windsor Castle itself surrounded by the legend: ‘To Commemorate The Restoration of Windsor Castle, Completed 20 November 1997’ (five years to the day since the fire broke out).

Alongside the medal, Peter and his colleagues were presented with a specially designed tie marking, which will also go to auction.

The medal and its associated material will be sold at John Nicholson's auctioneers in Fernhurst, Sussex, on June 12 with an estimate of £500 to £600.

Go to www.johnnicholsons.com for the live online bidding.