THE granddaughter of a cyclist who died after a road accident near Northwich is using her family's ‘royal connections' to keep his memory alive.

Newly crowned Little Leigh May Queen, Darcie King, lost her grandad, Ian Smith, after a cycling accident near his home in September 2023.

Ian, 75, was treated by paramedics at the scene then flown by air ambulance to Aintree Hospital in Liverpool, but later died.

Darcie's mum and Ian's daughter, Rachael King, said: “We all miss him so much. He was a wonderful dad and grandad. Darcie and him were so close."

Darcie, 9, was crowned at Little Leigh Women’s Institute’s (WI) May Day Fair on Saturday, May 11, and is planning to use her elevation to fundraise for the Northwest Air Ambulance Charity, after the crew tried so hard to save her grandad's life.

Northwich Guardian: Darcie King (left) who is 2024's Little Leigh May Queen, alongside mum, Rachael King, who was May Queen in 1999Darcie King (left) who is 2024's Little Leigh May Queen, alongside mum, Rachael King, who was May Queen in 1999 (Image: Rachael King)

What’s more, Rachael was herself crowned May Queen 25 years earlier almost to the day, followed by her two sisters in the two following years.

Barnton resident Rachael says her own crowning in 1999 is her most cherished childhood memory.

The 35-year-old describes her daughter’s as ‘lovely’ but ‘a bit bittersweet’, as she knew how much her dad Ian would’ve loved to have been there to see it.

Northwich Guardian: Darcie King, Little Leigh WI's May Queen 2024Darcie King, Little Leigh WI's May Queen 2024 (Image: Rachael King)

She added: “I feel so lucky Darcie was able to follow in my footsteps on Saturday.

“I was the queen 25 years ago, and it is one of my most cherished childhood memories.

“I think she enjoyed it as much as I did, and she’ll be able to have the same wonderful childhood memory I have.

Northwich Guardian: Darcie (centre) being crowned by 95-year-old Margaret Jones, Little Leigh WI's longest-serving memberDarcie (centre) being crowned by 95-year-old Margaret Jones, Little Leigh WI's longest-serving member (Image: Rachael King)

“It was very sad dad couldn’t be there in person, but I asked him to make sure the sun shone, and it did. It was a beautiful day.

“It’s been a very difficult year. It was a bit bittersweet on Saturday because it was such a special day and he wasn’t there to see it.

Northwich Guardian: May Queen, Darcie King, with with her official retinueMay Queen, Darcie King, with with her official retinue (Image: Rachael King)

“Darcie has chosen to raise money for Northwest Air Ambulance in memory of her grandad Ian. It’s a nice way of saying thank you, and it’s a way of keeping dad’s memory alive. It feel like he’s still involved.

“It’s also a way for us to thank them for looking after him, as they were amazing. We really do appreciate all they did for him.

“Hopefully the money Darcie raises will make a difference and help other people too.”

Darice was crowned by Margaret Jones, who at 95 years, is Little Leigh WI’s longest-serving member.

Members believe Little Leigh is the only WI in the country to run its own May Fair, and to crown a queen, and has been doing so since 1968.

Rachael added: “Margaret is such a lovely lady, and we feel so honoured she crowned Darice.

“It’s such a lovely village event, and everyone at the WI works so hard to make it special. It brings the whole village together.

“Every child who took part did a wonderful job. It genuinely couldn’t have gone any better.”