Shopkeeper gets her hands on Olympic torch before Sir Clive Woodward

At 5am a slightly dejected Sandy Patel opened up her kiosk in Swiss Cottage Tube station, knowing she would be stuck behind her underground counter as crowds enjoyed the torch relay overhead.

But to her disbelief at around 6.15am the torch, which rugby legend Sir Clive Woodward would alter light in front of thousands, bobbed its way through the Tube station towards her – albeit unlit.

Mrs Patel, who has owned the shop for 12 years, got far closer than she ever dreamed of and got her hands on the torch before any of the official torchbearers who would take the flame through Camden minutes later.

The 44-year-old shopkeeper, who has no Olympic tickets despite applying for �2,000 worth of them, said: “It was a lovely surprise because I didn’t think I was going to see it, being stuck down here while all the action was going on just down the road.

“My husband filmed part of the relay for me in Harrow yesterday (Wednesday) because I was going to miss out. I watched the video and I thought that was the closest I was going to get, so this has been great.”