IT was an act of bravery that involved rescuing a man from the top of an electricity pylon that had 250,000 volts running through it.

At the time firefighter Liam Hackett was lauded for his efforts in climbing to the top of the tower to save the life of the hospital patient who had escaped from a nearby psychiatric unit.

Now, 23 years on, Mr Hackett has suddenly received new plaudits for his heroics and has been awarded the Certificate of Honour from an obscure African king.

Mr Hackett, 65, of Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, has now been officially recognised for gallantry by His Majesty Solomon Iguru I of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara.

What makes the distinction all the more remarkable is that the award has no connection whatsoever to the African province.

Nonetheless, the honour has since been confirmed and Mr Hackett becomes only the second person to have been given the award.

He said: "The whole thing came completely out of the blue. My first reaction was that it was a bit of wind-up but it turned out to be legitimate.

"I looked into the award and when I found out it was all real I have to say I was really very surprised."

The award is granted to people who put their lives on the line through their work in either the fire service, police or disaster relief organisations.

Keen fundraiser Mr Hacket is a member of the St John Scotland charity, who also awarded him a medal for his selfless bravery in the past.

On closer inspection it appears that Mr Hackett's former career as a firefighter was flagged up to the society which bestows the honour after his charity work.

Mr Hackett said: "Recently, I have been involved in a lot of charity work and I did raise money for an orphange in Uganda not long ago.

"That's about the only reason I can think of that they would have even heard of me, perhaps they looked me up and saw that I had been given the Order of St John Life Saving Medal.

"Still, I just find it really strange that the Kingdom would want to award me for a rescue which took place so long ago."

In December 1989, while serving in the London Fire Brigade, Mr Hackett rescued the man.

The man had taken up a position on the insulating shield for the twin conductor cables, 130ft off the ground.

When advised the current had been switched off, Mr Hackett scaled the tower only to discover the 250,000 volt wires were live.

He was then left alone with the patient as he orchestrated a viable rescue plan, made all the more difficult by the troubled man's unpredictable nature.

Yet he managed to calm him down and convinced him to climb down the tower once the current had been disabled.

Mr Hackett said: "I had never been up a pylon in my life, had no idea how to climb one, had no training for it and had to improvise.

"The lad was Irish and I managed to keep him steady by talking to him in Gaelic.

"But I was not very happy about the situation and thought this was about to be my last job in the brigade. I didn't think I would be coming down alive. In the end, we managed to get the lad to safety but that was my last rescue - I had had enough."

Having later been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Mr Hackett took medical retirement and moved with his family to Coatbridge in 1991.

He added: "That rescue was the straw that broke the camel's back, I just had to get out after that.

"I've had a lot of treatment over the last 15 years, and despite a little trouble here and there, I do feel a whole lot better."

Mr Hackett continues as a volunteer and works with charities in Sri Lanka and Uganda, as well as the Order of Malta organisation in Glasgow.