Portsmouth's oldest living identical twins celebrate 93rd birthday

For Portsmouth’s oldest identical twins, lockdown was the first time they had to separate for such a long time.

By Hollie Busby
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 10:27 am

They’ve spent their life joined at the hip, working in the same job for years from the age of 14, and riding the bus together on day trips until they were 90.

So when last year, restrictions lifted and Barbara Walford and Beryl Taylor could see each other again, it was a huge relief.

Marking their 93rd birthday on April 18, Barbara visited sister Beryl at her Southsea care home, Braemar Care Home, along with Barbara’s daughter Annita Hutchings and their sister, Eileen.

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Portsmouth's oldest identical twins celebrated their 93rd birthday on Monday, April 18 at Braemar Care Home in Southsea. Pictured is: Identical twins(l-r) Beryl Taylor and Barbara Walford on their 93rd birthday. Picture: Sarah Standing (220422-2148)

Barbara lives at her home in Baffins, so each time she can visit Barbara is ‘special’ as often being away from one another can be ‘upsetting’.

On their milestone day, the care team sang a rendition of Happy Birthday and a three-tier chocolate and vanilla cake was laid on by the staff.

Barbara even found the energy to have a bop with the carers, enjoying a few dances.

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Portsmouth's oldest identical twins celebrated their 93rd birthday on Monday, April 18 at Braemar Care Home in Southsea. Pictured is: (left and right) Senior carers Amy Saunders and Joanne Woodacre with identical twins (middle l-r) Barbara Walford and Beryl Taylor. Picture: Sarah Standing (220422-2197)

Born in 1929 in Chesterfield Road, Beryl and Barbara were two of Lilian and Frank Clark’s four daughters.

Barbara weighed just three pounds and had to be wrapped in cotton wool because there were no incubators back then. Beryl weighed five pounds.

Barbara says: ‘We used to go everywhere, Beryl and I. We used to go walking. We used to go out every day. We used to get on the bus or get on the train and go to Bognor and Chichester and Exeter. Once we went to London.

‘Our secret is being active. We always used to go out for walks. We'd go out and go on the train. We'd go everywhere.’

Portsmouth's oldest identical twins celebrated their 93rd birthday on Monday, April 18 at Braemar Care Home in Southsea. Pictured is: (left and right) Senior carers Joanne Woodacre and Amy Saunders with identical twins (middle l-r) Barbara Walford and Beryl Taylor. Picture: Sarah Standing (220422-2205)

Growing up, the twins lived in Lynton Grove. They were surrounded by a very close family. They would go on family picnics, enjoy cycling and have a go on their dad’s roller skates. Their fondest memories are of times they’d skae on Baffins Pond when it froze in winter.

Dad Frank, was ‘very good’ at making things. When they were about three, the pair would play in a toy pedal car he’d converted into a two-seater. It had an extra set of pedals so they could both drive it.

Their first job was together at Twilfit corset factory in Highland Road, Eastney, where they stayed for many years.

Beryl went on to work in the colour loft in the dockyard where she stayed until retirement while Barbara had a variety of jobs, mainly cleaning.

Oldest living twins in Portsmouth Caption: Beryl and Barbara twins

Barbara married in 1954 at St Cuthbert’s Church, Baffins, after falling for husband Ivor Walford when he was a Royal Marine – attending a dance at the Royal Marine Barracks at Eastney. They went on to have three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Ivor died in 2005.

Barbara still lives in Baffins and is well-known to locals who have a soft spot for the twins.

Beryl married later in life, tying the knot to her sweetheart Frank Taylor after meeting when she was working at the dockyard.

As identical twins, they often found themselves mirroring each other’s health conditions.

In their 40s, when Barbara suffered a migraine, Beryl often found that she would too.

The pair have even had the same toe on the same foot removed and have fond memories of travelling to Havant, Bognor Regis, Exeter, Emsworth, Bosham and Chichester, travelling by bus and train until just three years ago.

‘They would still get on the bus and go to places still at 90. They went to Havant a lot and would sit in the pub but they wouldn't have an alcoholic drink, it would be a cup of tea,’ says Barbara’s daughter, Annita.

‘At one of the pubs in Havant, strangers have been known to give them flowers who they'd never known because they were always together. When they didn't ride their bikes and instead got the bus, all the bus drivers knew them as “the girls”.’

Barbara adds: ‘[When we were younger] we used to get up because we had to be at work by 7.30am. We used to get on our bikes, say goodbye to mum and cycle down. We were always together.

‘Now they’ve opened up Beryl’s home a bit more we can visit her. She won’t get so upset then.’

Independent, Barbara is still doing her own housework and enjoys going on walks and going on outings with her friends and family.

On reaching 93, she laughs: ‘I feel fine.’

‘I just get up and get on with it.’

Beryl suffered a stroke in 2019 and has since been under the care of Braemar.

Barbara says they’ve got this far together because they have such a positive outlook on life.