Three times the fun at triplets’ 80th birthday party

From left, Phil Shulman, Derek Shulman, Tony Ransley, Kerry Minnear, Ray Shulman at the induction of Gentle Giant into the Guildhall's Wall of Fame

Gentle Giant prove they’re still a huge draw as they’re inducted in to the Guildhall’s Wall of Fame

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TRIPLETS thought to be Britain’s oldest celebrated their 80th birthdays surrounded by family and friends.

Mary Davis, John Davies, and Joy Hillary, were born in Chichester Road, North End, Portsmouth, above a corn merchants.

HAPPY RETURNS From left, Mary Davis, John Davies and Joy Hillary. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132688-1)

HAPPY RETURNS From left, Mary Davis, John Davies and Joy Hillary. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132688-1)

They came as a complete surprise to their mother, Gwendoline Davies, who thought she was simply carrying one very large baby.

The triplets were so small at just 3lbs they were not expected to survive.

But all three thrived and the then Lord Mayor of Portsmouth commissioned a special pram for the three of them.

On Saturday they were joined by a large group of family and friends at Chichester Sailing Club to mark the occasion where they raised a toast to the sprightly triplets.

Joy, who delivered more than 1,000 babies as a midwife in Portsmouth, said: ‘There were no such things as scans in those days.

‘My mother had previously had a 10lbs baby and she thought that’s why she was so big this time.

‘Mary came first on September 22 and John and I followed just after midnight on September 23. My mother had a text above her bed which read, “count your many blessings”.

‘The doctor who delivered us said, “I think you’d better turn that round. You don’t want any more blessings!’

All three went to primary school together and were evacuated to Bognor during the war.

As a child John, who now lives in Scotland, certainly didn’t see being one of three a blessing.

The retired helicopter engineer said: ‘I really didn’t like it. My sisters thought of themselves as twins, plus me.

‘We didn’t like the attention. If we were going on the bus they would stay downstairs and I’d go upstairs. We found it very embarrassing.’

But over the years they have changed their minds.

Mary, from Birdham, West Sussex, who runs a nursing home with Joy, said: ‘We’re very happy, we advertise the fact we’re twins now.

‘We’re lucky to still be very close. It’s so special to be surrounded by your family like this.’

Their younger sister Margaret, from Chichester, said: ‘It was wonderful living with them, they looked after me then and they still look after me now.’