Twins born to a Chester woman almost 80 years ago have been reunited for the first time.
Ann Hunt and Elizabeth Hamel, 78, who have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s longest estranged twins, were separated in Aldershot, Hampshire in 1936 because their mother Alice Lamb could not afford to keep them both.
Ann, who still lives in Aldershot, was given up for adoption and had no idea she had a twin sister until last year.
She met twin sister Elizabeth Hamel, who lives in Oregon, USA, for the first time last month, after 77 years and 289 days apart.
The discovery came about when Ann’s daughter Samantha Stacey began a long and painstaking process of researching her mum’s family tree.
When she researched more about the twins’ birth mother, she learned that Alice had married and moved to Chester at the age of 48.
Further digging eventually revealed Alice had a daughter - meaning Ann had a sister she had never even known about.
Not only that, when Samantha obtained birth records, she found that her mother’s sister had been born just 20 minutes before.
“I love family history and spent a long time researching my mum’s family tree,” said Samantha.
“One Christmas when my husband asked me what I wanted I said Alice’s death certificate!
“With that, as well as her marriage certificate we were able to find out that Alice had married George Burton at the Parish Church of St Bridget with St Martin in Chester in August 1951, and they lived on Commonhall Street.
“We visited Chester so we could see where she had lived, and it’s a lovely old house with an interesting history now used as offices,” she added.
Elizabeth, who had remained with her mother, and was aware she had a sister somewhere, lived in Chester for a time and joined the WRNS in 1961 before marrying and moving to the USA. Alice died in Chester in 1980 aged 77.
Last month, Ann and Samantha flew out to Los Angeles for an emotional reunion with Elizabeth, and whilst there, underwent testing at the Twin Studies Center at California State University with professor Nancy Segal, who researches twins who were raised apart to better understand the role of genes and environment in human development.
Ann said: “I sort of wanted to pinch myself. I have got someone as well as me, part of me - a twin. It’s so wonderful, I’m not on my own anymore.”