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What's it like to age with your identical twin

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What's it like to age with your identical twinAll twins are special. But few come more special than Gay and Zoe Spink. Beauty queens in the Seventies, the sisters are still modelling — at 65. And every step of their journey was captured in photos.Here they share their enchanting album, charting the highs and lows of the past 60 years, and tell TESSA CUNNINGHAM what it’s like to always have your mirror image in front of you . . .Only Mum could tell us apart ZOE SAYS: We were born on March 11, 1952. I’m the elder by 25 minutes so I’m the bossy big sister. As twins, our bond was particularly intense because it was another ten years before our little brother, Tony, arrived. To the outside observer we might be carbon copies of each other, but there are tiny differences. Gay’s blonde hair has a delicate red tinge (inherited from our mum, Betty) and her skin is slightly fairer than mine. Mum could always tell us apart.We look so glum!GAY SAYS: We had an idyllic childhood in Halifax with ponies and ballet classes. Our dad Neville was an accountant and our mum, Betty, taught ballroom dancing. She won her first beauty pageant in Morecambe in 1948, and came second in Miss Great Britain that year. But at six, we were so shy, we loathed attention. We look glum! We loved identical dresses. We still choose identical outfits even if we shop apart. At school, we even shared our best friend, Christine. The only thing we disagreed on was pudding. I picked treacle tart, Zoe liked chocolate pudding. We were both beauty queens!GAY SAYS: We left school at 16 for secretarial college before joining Dad’s accountancy firm. But Zoe only lasted six months, she got the modelling bug and left to do a course.She was always the adventurous one, and for once I didn’t follow — not straight away. I did help her though, and in 1972, at the age of 20, I persuaded her to pose for a snap in the back garden and sent it to a beauty contest being run by TV Times.I even did her hair and make-up. She won Miss Yorkshire TV Times and then Miss National TV Times. The prize was a princely £250 and a trip to Hollywood, meeting stars such as Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas. Well, that was all the persuasion I needed, and within a year I’d quit and became a model, too.In 1973 I won Miss Great Britain — 25 years after Mum was runner-up. Zoe didn’t enter it: as identical twins, with matching 5ft 8in, 35-24-36 figures, it would have been impossible for the judges to choose between us. Zoe did loan me her ‘lucky’ yellow swimsuit for the contest, though, and it worked.Crowning GloriesZOE SAYS: It was great when Gay became a model too, though we never competed against each other. I won various crowns, including Miss Jubilee in 1977, and Elton John performed my ‘coronation’. Whenever I won, I felt like telling everyone: ‘I’ve got another half back home just as good!’ It was a distraction for Mum, too. Dad, a heavy smoker, died of a heart attack in 1971, aged 45. So Mum became our agent and chaperone. And when we turned up at Tony’s school for anything, he was delighted to show off his beauty queen big sisters to all his friends. Having a twin is a great way to keep your looks. If either of us put on weight, or had a bad hairdo, we’d only have to look over at our living, breathing mirror to find the incentive to set it right.My pain on Gay's wedding dayZOE SAYS: I was thrilled for Gay when she met Paul Leary, a handsome physiotherapist, but I was jealous, too. He was taking my sister away. We were 22 — but we still shared a bedroom. Gay had a perfect church wedding in July 1974 and looked the happiest I’ve ever seen her. It sounds selfish and I tried to smile, but I found it hard to hide my sadness, I feared we’d never be so close. I’m glad I was wrong. Our relationship has intensified over the years as we’ve hit the highs and lows of marriage and motherhood together.Twice as niceGAY SAYS: I loved my new life as a wife and then a mum — Emma arrived in 1978, Adam in 1981 and Simon in 1985. It was strange seeing my body change and starting a path without Zoe. My new home was only a few miles away but I missed Zoe. We jumped at any chance to work together. So here we are in bikinis in Oxford Street in February, doing a good job of not looking freezing. Thanks to our mother’s wonderful genes, I got my figure back quickly, and you can’t tell who is the mum (I’m on the right in both pictures!). Though we’re identical, I have always preferred to be totally blonde while Zoe likes highlights. But we were so alike, we’d even swap jobs. I’d turn up as Zoe Spink — while the real Zoe was hundreds of miles away on another job. No one ever guessed.A family businessZOE SAYS: As we’re so close, it’s no surprise we’re devoted aunties, too. Here we are roping Emma into a job with us in 1980 when we were 28.

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