Elma Harris and Thelma Barratt say they look at each other every day, stunned that they have reached the age of 104 together – they swear by sticking together and alcohol
Britain’s oldest twins have shared their ultimate age-defying hack – and it’s quite the message.
Sisters Elma Harris and Thelma Barratt, born in Stockport in August 1919, have spent their whole lives as best friends and the duo now live together in a Lancashire care home. The twins have were just 19 when World War Two broke out and have seen 22 different Prime Ministers and the coronation of three monarchs.
They have lived very similar lives; at the age of 14 they both started working as packers and labellers at Smiths Crisps after asking if there were any jobs going on the way home from school. They gave up work when they got married at 21, just three months apart.
Now, the twins have shared their secret to a long lives: a cheeky brandy every night. Thelma said: “We look at each other and say, ‘Who’d have thought we’d live to be this age?’ We didn’t, but we’re still here.”
Elma, who enjoys a brandy and a lemonade at night, said: “If you feel young, you stay young.” Elma married Bill Hewitt, a joiner and Thelma married Joseph Barratt, a hatter, just as World War Two started. She was called up to work at Fairey Aviation’s factory, making parts for the RAF during the war.
Thelma’s husband was captured in Italy and became a prisoner of war at the same camp as Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, famed for losing his legs while attempting aerobatics. In 1959, Thelma and Joe became the landlord and landlady of a pub in their hometown of Stockport, but left when their son Tony was a few months old.
Asked what was the best part of being twins, the sisters said it was always having each other for company. Elma, a great-grandmother-of-six, said: “You didn’t need pals. We always had each other.”
However, the twins said they didn’t always get along as well as they do now and were close to “scratching one another’s eyes out sometimes” in their younger days.
Elma’s first husband Bill died soon after the war, while Thelma’s husband Joe worked as a hatter in Stockport. Thelma told the BBC: “He worked for the hat trade and if he was caught without his hat, he got fined half a crown. Many a time when we were courting I would find myself whisked down an entry because he’d seen them in the distance.”
The sisters said they always enjoyed a good night out, and would trawl around town looking for new dresses to wear.
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