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13-year-old to lead Knutsford May Day parade for the first time

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A 13-year-old girl says she’s excited to take on the role of the Marshall in this year’s Knutsford May Day Parade.

The role involves riding a horse at the front of the parade and keeping pace for the stream of characters, dancers, bands and others who follow.

It’s the first time a child has been chosen for the role, which for four decades was carried out by Joe Gates who passed away in 2022.

Thea Williamson said she was eager to take up a position at the head of the parade when she was asked by Knutsford May Day organisers.

She said: “I felt like it would be an exciting thing to do.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching people go by in the parade, as well as being in it when I was younger.”

Her mum Megan said it was a proud moment for the family.

Megan said: “I was in the procession when I was a little girl, so to have my little girl in the May Day is a really proud moment.

“She was Highwayman Higgins, so she’s been involved in May Day a few times before, but to lead the procession is a big thing – particularly taking it on from Joe Gates’ legacy and Catherine who’s done it the last couple of years.”

Thea and her mum have been busy bathing and grooming Nala the pony to make sure she’s gleaming in time for the big day.

Megan said: “She a fairly new pony to us, Thea’s had her since October – but she turns six years old next month so she’s quite a young pony.

“So far she’s stood up to all the tests – so we’re hoping she’s not too put off by the walking bush and wanting to eat it, but the true test will come on the day.”

They’ll plait the pony’s mane, and sew red flowers into her hair – following the tradition established by Joe Gates.

Thea’s will be wearing white jodhpurs and a new navy show jacket, and has been busy polishing her riding boots to make sure they’re sparkling for the occasion.

The flower for her buttonhole has been donated by White Orchid florist on bottom street.

Thea has been out practicing the route in advance, and will be cheered on by the crowds – and in particular by her grandparents who are said to be very proud of her.

At the end of the parade, she’s looking forward to being able to jump off the pony in time to watch everybody else arrive on the field ahead of the crowning ceremony.

Knutsford’s annual May Day parade begins at 2pm on Saturday 13th May 2023.

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