A pair of identical twins who spent their lives together passed away from separate illnesses just three hours apart.
Brothers Alan and Geoff Bates, 70, died on the same day and weeks later had a joint funeral with matching coffins.
Shelley Bates, Alan’s daughter, knew her father only had “months” to live after he was diagnosed with throat cancer and his health deteriorated.
But she said it was “surreal” to find out her uncle had passed away from multiple organ failure as she on her way say her final goodbyes to her dad last month.
And when she reached Alan’s bedside, she said the 70-year-old seemed to be talking to Geoff saying, “I’m on my way, I’ll see you soon” just moments before 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, 46, said it was “devastating” to get the news that Alan had passed away on the same day as her father.
But she added that there was also something “comforting” that the inseparable, “kind and generous” twins had departed “this world together”.
She said: “It was devastating, obviously, but it was also at the same time quite comforting in a way that they both went at the same time.
“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.”
Katie said the brother’s joint funeral, on July 19, gave the pair who had cared so much for each other a “lovely farewell”.
She said: “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. It was a lovely farewell.”
Health insurer, Katie, from Rotherham, South Yorks., said Alan was “very close” to his brother Geoff when they grew up in Sheffield together.
She also said they would cause trouble due to their similarities – and even needed their names sewn on their jumpers at school so the teachers could tell them apart.
She said: “I think the whole family were very close, but especially my dad and Al. 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.”
Katie explained that Geoff had worked as an electrician and then a computer engineer, while Alan, a joiner by trade, had taught City and Guild courses.
Geoff later moved to Rotherham with his two children, whereas Alan, who had four children, stayed in Sheffield before heading to Tenerife in 2018, following his retirement.
The two brothers would always spend Christmas and New Year at each other houses, and when they were divided by oceans, they still talk regularly through video calls.
Alan returned to the UK after he was diagnosed with throat cancer, whereas Geoff suffered a mini stroke, leaving him in hospital before he died, on June 13 this year.