IT IS a double celebration today as identical twin sisters Mary Cox and Georgina Cliff celebrate their 100th birthdays.

Family members will visit them in small groups and at a distance, because of coronavirus, to toast them at their home in Longworth, near Abingdon.

Mary was born at 7.20am on October 14, 1920 and Georgina arrived five minutes later at Middle Farm, Chawley Lane, Cumnor, where they lived with their parents, Deborah and George Neale.

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Both girls went to Cumnor village school, then won scholarships to the Oxford Central Girls' School in New Inn Hall Street, leaving at 16 with school certificates and secretarial qualifications.

Mary worked at Wolsey Hall in Oxford as a shorthand typist and secretary and, during the war, with the Ministry of Food in Botley Road.

Both girls attended Cumnor chapel and it was there that Mary met lay preacher Leslie Cox.

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Georgina, left, and Mary in 1935.

They married when she was 21 and settled at Southmoor, near Abingdon, helping Leslie's father William run his fruit and vegetable farm.

The couple then ran their own farm in Gloucestershire for eight years. Mary was widowed at an early age in 1965 and subsequently moved to Newbury, where she started a new career as a probation officer.

She stepped down at the age of 70, but retirement was far from her mind. She moved to Barnstaple, Devon, to be nearer her family and worked part-time as an English tutor until she was 89.

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Her daughter Susan, who died in 2008, and son David produced four grandchildren, who went on to provide the twins with eight great grandchildren.

Georgina started work as a shorthand typist and secretary with the Oxford Society, a university body. She worked for the Ministry of Health in St Giles during the war.

She married Basil Cliff, from Lincolnshire, at Cumnor at the age of 22 and they moved to Southmoor in 1947 when he returned from serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in Egypt.

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Georgina and Mary in 1966.

The family set up their own motor business, Cross Roads Garage, at Southmoor and at its peak, it employed 150 staff and had an annual turnover of £25 million a year at three branches.

Georgina recalls doing any job that needed doing to support the business - including as taxi driver and petrol pump attendant as well as her work as company secretary.

She was widowed by the death of her husband Basil in 2005.

Her daughter Jane, who died recently, and son Jonathan, produced five grandchildren who, in turn, produced six great grandchildren.

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The sister celebrate their 90th year with some of their family in 2010.

The twin sisters have lived together at Longworth for the last 10 years and look after themselves, with help from a cleaner, gardener and family members.

What are their interests? "Gardening, politics and bird watching."

And what has kept them going to 100?

“Exercise, hard work and good genes," they say in unison.