Identical twins celebrate 100th birthday in Barnstaple

Identical twins Doris and Freda Latham, of Barnstaple, are pictured on their 100th birthday. Picture by Guy Harrop Identical twins Doris and Freda Latham, of Barnstaple, are pictured on their 100th birthday. Picture by Guy Harrop

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
9:30 AM

Could Freda and Doris mark remarkable milestone with family party spanning five generations.

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Freda and Doris Latham (nee Smallridge) when they were young.Freda and Doris Latham (nee Smallridge) when they were young.

A FULL double century of candles was required on Monday as identical twins from Barnstaple celebrated their 100th birthdays.

Freda and Doris Latham celebrated their milestone with their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren at Barnstaple Hotel.

It is thought they could well be the country’s second oldest living identical twins and they both still live in their own homes in Barnstaple after spending their whole lives in North Devon.

Always inseparable, the pair even married brothers Gordon and Wilton Latham, so not even their surnames can separate them.

Born five minutes apart in South Molton on May 5, 1914, just three months before the outbreak of the war, Freda and Doris – or ‘Doll’ as she is known – moved to Arlington at a young age.

Both went to Arlington School and went to work as teenagers ‘in service’, with Freda working as a cleaner at Arlington Rectory and Doll at Arlington Court for a time, before working for Arlington’s last owner Rosalie Chichester at her home in Woolacombe.

Later Doll worked at East Down House, then at the village school in Shirwell, while Freda went on to work at The Warren, also in Shirwell.

A chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce took the twins to a birthday party spanning five generations.

And despite arriving in similar coloured outfits, the sisters said they’d never noticed telepathy experienced by some twins.

“I’ve read about it in the paper where some twins say they have felt the other’s pain but we’ve never had that,” said Freda.

“We’ve always been together though – all of us sisters have always been close.”

Freda said she put the sisters’ longevity down to their dad’s home-grown vegetables.

“We came from a farming family and there was not a lot of money around,” she said.

“But our dad loved his garden and there were always plenty of fresh vegetables on the table – and they were always organic.

“We were lucky to have had a very good start in life”, she added.”

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