Twin sisters Ann and Elizabeth meet for the first time. ©BBC/YouTube
It was fitting that Ann Hunt and Elizabeth Hamel met for the first time in Los Angeles.
Their story reads like it came straight from a studio lot in Hollywood.
Born Elizabeth Ann Lamb and Patricia Ann Lamb, the twin sisters arrived to mother Alice on Feb. 28, 1936 in Aldershot, UK. Separated at just five months old, the sisters reunited last week at age 78. After 77 years and 289 days apart, they are the longest separated twins to have reunited.
Ann at age 1
"I was over the moon, I couldn't speak," Ann said of talking to Elizabeth for the first time. "I had to pinch myself because I realized, I've got a sibling, a sister. It's so wonderful, I'm not on my own any more. I've got no words to say. I'm so happy — I have Elizabeth."
After the daughters' biological father - enlisted in the military - was not present for the birth or raising of the girls, single mother Alice reluctantly attempted to find better families for both daughters via adoption. She found Ann a home at five months with a local family, who raised her in Aldershot. She went on to marry and have three daughters of her own.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, stayed with Alice after the mother couldn't find parents to adopt the scoliosis-stricken child. Raised in Hemel Hempstead, she eventually joined the Women's Royal Navy Service, met her future U.S. Navy husband while they were both stationed in Malta, and moved with him to Oregon, where she raised two sons.
Elizabeth aged 10
Elizabeth always knew she had a twin sister. Ann never had any idea.
On April 22, 2013, Elizabeth received a letter from one of Ann's daughters postmarked from Aldershot. She had been looking into her family lineage and came across Elizabeth's information. Almost instantly, all parties realized that these two twin sisters - separated by an ocean, a continent, and a lifetime - had finally found each other.
"I've been praying for you for many years," Elizabeth told Ann when they first spoke. "I thought, being adopted, she could be anywhere in the world," she added. "It was amazing to me that she was still in Aldershot."
The previous record had stood at one day shy of 70 years, held by Philip and Barbara McAuley, also of the UK, who met on June 29, 1987.
Elizabeth and Ann's amazing journey to each other was documented by the BBC. Cameras rolled as the twins met for the first time, and you can watch the conclusion to their incredible journey here.
Their first words to each other as they prepared for a 78-year-old hug were identical.
"How lovely!" the sisters said, together at last.
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