Andy Fiddler, 52, from Higher Walton, leapt into action when thug Aaron Jameson-Kennedy tried to rob DJM Goldsmiths jewellers in broad daylight on January 13.
Andy, who works as an engineer for BAE, was at the store with fiancee Mandy Rishton, 45, to pick up her engagement ring after a romantic New Year’s Eve proposal at Pinnochio’s restaurant on Chorley Road.
But nothing prepared them for the drama about to unfold seconds after Mandy put on her platinum diamond ring.
Jameson-Kennedy, an ex-squaddie recently released from a jail term for a violent attack close to his home town of Atherton, near Wigan, burst into the store in Fox Street, Preston, and caused more than £400 damage as he mounted the counter and ransacked the window display.
He was quickly apprehended by plucky Andy, and worker David Mounsey.
Mum-of-two Mandy, who has been with Andy for seven years, said: “It’s an event we’ll never forget.
“He’s my hero. It’s funny because at first you think it was such a good thing to do, but it was such a silly thing to do as well. At that point he hadn’t brandished a weapon but he could have had a knife.
”But I think instinct just kicks in.
“Andy just handed me his coat. It was so surreal, it all happened so quickly. We had waited a couple of minutes while the staff went and got the ring.
“I had literally just put the ring on my finger when I heard him come in behind me. I saw the sales assistant’s face drop. You think: ‘No this isn’t real.’
“As they were struggling the lady opened the counter and let me go behind with her.
Andy said: “I don’t know what was going through my mind - its just that he was thieving and if I’ve got to pay, he’s got to pay. It seemed the right thing to do.
“I stopped bullies at school 40 years ago but have never done anything like this.
“It’s strange but there was no fear factor, it didn’t cross my mind. I was trying to protect Mandy from any threat and keep him in the shop.
“He had a scarf around his face so I couldn’t see the look on his face. As he jumped over the counter I gripped hold of him and wrestled him to the floor.
“It caught up with me when I had time to dwell on it, when you think what would have happened if he’d had an axe - then it really hits home.
“But you’ve got to think of the people around you. It was instinct.”
Jeweller Gary Shaw, 55, who runs the store with business partner David Mounsey, said: “We were amazed when we watched the footage afterwards.
“He jumped over the counter and started pulling at window The customer spotted him, threw his jacket across shop, and wrestled him to the floor.
“He didn’t have to do anything - he was such a hero when he jumped in.
“Over the last 35 years we have had four burglaries or snatches, but nothing like this.”
Andy and the staff apprehended him until police arrived.
Three days later Jameson-Kennedy was jailed for 16 weeks by Preston Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to robbery, and must pay a £115 surcharge.