Twins’ joint 80th birthday

JPCT 250313 Twins 80th birthday. Joan Bennett left and Jean Bromley. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 250313 Twins 80th birthday. Joan Bennett left and Jean Bromley. Photo by Derek Martin

Twin sisters, who coincidentally ended up as near neighbours in Horsham, celebrated their joint 80th birthday this week.

Joan Bennett and Jean Bromley were treated to a surprise party on March 23, ahead of their birthday on March 26.

“We feel 50,” said Jean, “definitely not 80.

“We had a wonderful big party on Saturday, it was a huge surprise.

“We had all our family around us, it was wonderful.”

Eight years ago, Jean had a house in a hilly part of Dorking, and decided it would be best to move away.

“I just thought it was time to move, I really wouldn’t be able to walk up those hills,” she recalled.

“I said I was going to move somewhere like Dorking, or Leatherhead, to be near Joan.”

Meanwhile, Joan was thinking of moving to the Horsham area, to be nearer to her daughter Tanya Fitch.

Tanya researched local properties, and each of the twins found a home - in the same north Horsham street.

Joan said: “I fell in love with this one, she fell in love with that other one - it’s like it was meant to be.

“It was like someone was watching over us.”

Another coincidence cropped up when Joan sold her house to her neighbours, while Jean sold hers to her neighbours’ son.

Like a lot of twins Joan and Jean say they have a special bond, demonstrated whenever one of them is ill and the other senses that something is wrong, or when they meet up and discover they are wearing the same outfits.

In their case, the bond was strong enough to prevent them being split up when they were evacuated during the war.

Jean described how all of the evacuees were gathered in a hall, so the host families could choose the children they wanted.

“They all wanted Joan because she was a pretty little girl,” she said.

“We weren’t going to be separated. “I hung onto her and kicked and screamed, bit and scratched.”

In the end they were allowed to stay together, but had a very unhappy time with their temporary family.

Eventually they were able to return home, only to be evacuated again and have more problems with their new hosts.

“It was a terrible time,” said Jean. “They were all horrible people. Nobody wanted these evacuees, they just wanted the money.”

She also said that, after many house moves over the years, Horsham is the most friendly place she has lived in.

In later life, both twins went on to have three children - each had two boys and one girl.