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A pair of identical twins who spent their lives together were laid to rest after dying just three hours apart, having had a joint funeral with matching coffins.
Brothers Alan and Geoff Bates died from separate illnesses last month at the age of 70.
Alan’s daughter Shelley Bates knew her father only had ‘months’ to live after being diagnosed with throat cancer, with his health also later deteriorating.
However, she admitted it was ‘surreal’ to find out her uncle had already died from multiple organ failure as she travelled to say goodbye to her dad.
When she reached Alan’s bedside, she said she heard him say to his late sibling Geoff: “I’m on my way, I’ll see you soon.”
Just moments later, he died.
Shelley, 40, said: “It was just really surreal. Me and my brother, Andrew Bates, had to travel from Sheffield to Coventry to go and see him.
“But halfway down, we got a call saying that Uncle Geoff had passed away. We got down to where my dad was, and then 15-20 minutes after that, my dad passed away.
She added: “My auntie said it was as though my dad was speaking to my uncle. He just kept saying “I’m on my way, I’ll see you soon”.
“When we got there, he was kind of staring off to one particular spot in the corner of the ceiling, and he kept looking at that spot and laughing.”
Geoff’s daughter Katie Sellers said it was ‘devastating’ to hear that her father and his brother had died on the same day, but said it was ‘comforting’ that the twins were able to depart this world ‘together’.
She said: “For them to come into this world together and leave this world together, it was quite comforting in a way. And they’re together forever now, side by side.”
The brothers’ joint funeral, which was held on 19 July, provided a ‘lovely farewell’ for family and friends.
Katie, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, continued: “From when they arrived at the crematorium, they parked so that both the back doors were facing each other.
“They then brought them both out together and had them walked in, side by side, together. It was a lovely tribute, and they had matching flowers on their coffins."
Katie said Alan and Geoff were ‘very close’ as they grew up in Sheffield together, and would often cause trouble as youngsters due to their identical appearance – at one point even being made to have their names sewn onto their school jumpers so teachers could tell them apart.
Geoff, who had been an electrician and then a computer engineer, and Alan, a joiner by trade, had taught City and Guild courses.
Geoff later moved to Rotherham with his two kids, while dad-of-four Alan remained in Sheffield until 2018, when he went to Tenerife following his retirement.
The brothers would always spend Christmas and New Year together, and would catch up regularly via video call when they were in different countries.
Alan eventually returned to the UK after he was diagnosed with throat cancer, while Geoff was in hospital before he died on 13 June this year, having suffered a mini stroke.
“I think the whole family were very close, but especially my dad and Al,” Katie said.
“We used to go camping together when we were kids – stuff like that.
“When they were kids, they would cause a nuisance, pretend to be each other and things like that. They used to have a bit of fun with things like that.
“While everybody used to say they looked identical, us as their children, we didn’t see that. They never looked the same to us.
“But other people, like my husband, said they were totally identical, and if you were speaking to them on the phone, you never knew who you were speaking to.”
Topics: UK News