Lyndhurst can rarely, if ever, have seen more people at once than the thousands who squeezed into the village centre as it became the first part of the New Forest to see the Olympic torch up close.

The packed High Street was a real buzz of excitement as the relay procession arrived, with people cheering the torchbearers all the way through the village.

Onlookers spilled into the streets as the pavements filled up, while many took advantage of the grass bank outside St Michael and All Angels Church as a vantage point more reminiscent of Wimbledon's Murray Mound than the normally sleepy centre of the National Park.

Wendy Benson, chosen for the honour of carrying the flame for her serial fundraising efforts, certainly did her best to lift the spirits of those being soaked by an unwelcome downpour, which seemed to coincide with the relay beginning its trip through Lyndhurst.

The 53-year-old, from Kanes Hill in Southampton, cheerily thanked everyone for coming out to see her despite the conditions, and did a little dance as she then passed the flame on to Susan Rae.

As the torch wound its way into Gosport Lane, the cheering crowds screamed their delight at seeing the golden beacon up close, before as quickly as it had arrived, it was gone again, as the convoy hurried off to Brockenhurst.