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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Double century! Britain’s oldest identical twins will celebrate turning 100 together after moving into the house they grew up in at the start of lockdown to keep each other company

  • The twins had just turned 19 when the Second World War was declared in 1939
  • Sisters from Kent, who moved in together for lockdown, say they never quarrel 
  • Dorothy and Kathleen, put their long life down to balancing wine and chocolate with exercise and healthy food - as well as having a big group of female friends 
Britain's oldest identical twins will celebrate their 100th birthday tomorrow after moving in together at the start of lockdown to keep each other company.
Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead are living in the childhood home which was built by their grandparents.
The pair - who call themselves 'The Twinnies' - were born on August 28, in 1920.
Eldest by a few minutes, Kath worked as a radar operator during the Second World War, and while she was once engaged, has never married or had children.
Dotty, a radiographer who treated soldiers returning from the Normandy beaches, is a widow with three children, six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
And despite their different personalities, the pair from Rochester, Kent, said they have 'never quarrelled'.
Britain's oldest identical twins Dorothy Sivyer (left) and Kathleen Whitehead (right) celebrate their 100th birthday together at Kathleen's home in Rochester, Kent where the sisters have been staying together since the beginning of lockdown to keep each other company
Britain's oldest identical twins Dorothy Sivyer (left) and Kathleen Whitehead (right) celebrate their 100th birthday together at Kathleen's home in Rochester, Kent where the sisters have been staying together since the beginning of lockdown to keep each other company
Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead celebrated with a socially distanced garden party
Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead celebrated with a socially distanced garden party
They put their long life down to balancing wine and chocolate with exercise and healthy food - and having a big group of female friends.
Retired physicist assistant Dotty, who lived in Tunbridge Wells until recently, said: 'I came up here because of the lockdown to be with my sister and now we're both turning 100 together.
'It's been nice living together during lockdown. We haven't come to blows or anything!
'I don't mind turning 100. Nobody has got this old in our family before.
'We're having a garden party under a marquee with family and our friends are coming for morning coffee but they'll be in the garden to keep distance because of the virus.'
Kath, a retired primary school teacher, said: 'We've had a lovely time together. It's been good and we want to say thank you to all those people who have made our birthday so happy and nice.
'Being together has kept us positive whilst staying inside - and eating chocolate! We play cards together and just chat a lot.
'We can't do much about turning 100, can we? It just kind of comes, doesn't it, I don't really want it - I'd rather go back the other way!

'We are the oldest identical twins in Britain which is nice!'

Identical twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, pictured, are Britain's oldest twins
Identical twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, pictured, are Britain's oldest twins
Sisters Dorothy (left) and Kathleen (right) were born in 1920 pictured on their 21st birthday
Sisters Dorothy (left) and Kathleen (right) were born in 1920 pictured on their 21st birthday
Dotty and Kath were born in Chatham. Kent, in 1920 and loved catching the tram with their parents to have picnics by the river as children.
They had just turned 19 years old when World War Two was declared in 1939 and both sisters did their bit for their country.
Kath said: 'We've seen lots of changes in our lives.
'The war came just as we were of an age where we wanted to enjoy life.
'I was called up in the services in the West to be a radar operator so I did my bit in the war. It was quite an exciting time.'
Dotty added: 'We wanted to go out with our parents to parties and we loved going to the dances.
'Our teenage years were our favourite time. You're just an adult, you're doing adult things, not childish things - you're free to do what you want and go where you want.
'I was a radiographer in a London hospital and I was sent down to Winchester to X-ray the casualties coming from the Normandy beaches.'
Throughout the past century the twins have gone on lots of holidays, visiting most of Europe, as well as Canada and through Scandinavia.
Kathleen Whitehead during the war when she served in the Woman's Auxiliary Air Force
Dorothy Sivyer during the war when she worked in a hospital and was a qualified radiographer
The twins were 19 when the Second World War broke out and both did their part, with Kathleen working in the Woman's Auxiliary Air Force while Dorothy worked as a hospital radiographer
Kath said: 'We went right up to the North Pole and saw lots of reindeer standing there, looking at us and wondering who these strange people are!
'We've been to glaciers like the Mortarach in Switzerland. We've been to Spain loads of times and went to the Netherlands. We've travelled around quite a bit.'
Dotty was married before her husband passed away and has a large family.
Kath was once engaged but never married and has lived at her current home since she was 12 years old after it was built by the twins' grandparents.
Kath said: 'We've always got on very well. Never quaralled, very close.
'We buy the same things and we share everything. Even when we are miles apart, we do the same things and buy the same handbags.
'I bought a pair of shoes once and she bought the same in a different colour!'
Dotty said: 'We're not friends - we're closer than that. Real sisters, real close, we are. Always have been.'
Kath is the eldest by a few minutes and has always been artistic, with a passion for painting and making jewellery and tea sets out of silver.
Dotty has a scientific brain, working as a radiographer and physicist assistant.
Dotty's daughter Margaret, 74, said: 'Mum has a brilliant mathematical mind.. She's very technical so in her 80s she was Skype-ing us and sending messages on the computer.
'Aunty Kath used to create these beautiful paintings and is always singing. She loves music and she sings such funny songs.
'They've got a funny sort of silly side and have a laugh but they're also both very intelligent.'
Dorothy and Kathleen, pictured with their parents and younger sibling, moved into their grandparents' home in Rochester, Kent, to keep each other company during lockdown
Dorothy and Kathleen, pictured with their parents and younger sibling, moved into their grandparents' home in Rochester, Kent, to keep each other company during lockdown
Dorothy and Kathleen credit their longevity to a healthy mix of chocolate, wine and exercise
Dorothy and Kathleen credit their longevity to a healthy mix of chocolate, wine and exercise
The pair said their secret to a long and happy life is everything in moderation and a huge group of girlfriends.
Dotty said: 'I used to cycle every day to the hospital and we still go out walking a few days a week when life is normal.
'I have a lot of good girlfriends. Every week, I play cards with one of my lady friends.'
Kath said: 'We've always been active - we would cycle and walk a lot, we even cycled to Guilford on the hottest day of the year!
'I used to walk to my work and play badminton in the garden. I enjoy my beautiful garden, that keeps me going.
'We do have naughty food but we also eat very healthily as well. We've never smoked but we do have the occasional glass of wine!'

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