Twins reunited after 78 years

Ann Hunt had no idea she had a twin sister until last year

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The Independent Online

A set of 78-year-old twin sisters have been re-united for the first time since they were babies.

Ann Hunt and Elizabeth Hamel were born in Aldershot, Hampshire in 1936.

The Guinness Book of World Records has confirmed that 78 years is the longest time twin siblings have spent apart before meeting again.

As their mother Alice Lamb was an unmarried domestic cook, and their father a soldier who never met the twins, Alice chose to put the girls up for adoption to avoid being ostracised for having illegitimate children.

However, Elizabeth’s curvature of the spine made her ‘unadoptable’ in the 1930s, and only Ann was adopted, while Alice cared for Elizabeth herself.

Later in life, Elizabeth married an American man, and moved to Portland, in the US state of Oregon.

While Elizabeth knew she had a long-lost sister, Ann made the discovery after he scoured through her family history with the help of her youngest daughter Samantha Stacey.

After a lengthy investigation into Ann’s past, last year the pair found that she had a sister in the US.

“We've found your sister but there's a bonus,” Ann recalls Samantha telling her, who then revealed: “She's your twin sister.”

Ann Hunt and Elizabeth Hamel met on 1 May in Los Angeles, a year after they had their first ever conversation together over the phone.

"I was over the moon, I couldn’t speak," Hunt told the BBC when discussing their first phone call.

"I let Elizabeth speak mostly, I had to pinch myself because I realised, I’ve got a sibling, a sister.

"It’s so wonderful, I’m not on my own any more. I’ve got no words to say. I’m so happy – I have Elizabeth."

The sisters were invited to Los Angeles by psychology Dr Nancy Segal, who will examine the twins in a bid to find their find similarities and differences during a two-day study.

“What was it in their life that caused the differences? If they're fraternal, it could be character as well as circumstance,” Dr Segal told the BBC.

“We want to get a comprehensive overview of their lives, their abilities, their interests, and put it all together as an important case study, because this is really the world's longest separated pair of twins,” she added.