The last-surviving twin whose story of being reunited after 78 years apart touched hearts around the world has died at the age of 81.

When Ann Patricia Hunt and Elizabeth Ann Hamel met on 1 May 2014 they became the Longest separated twins, having last been together when they were babies in 1936.

Ann was unaware of Elizabeth's existence but in 2013 they were put in contact for the first time.

"Mum knew she was adopted but she didn't know she had a sister - it was a gift, unexpected but very welcome," said Ann's daughter, Samantha Stacey.

"Mum was so happy when I told her. It was a delight to make contact with Liz and her family and to get to know them."

"The reunion gave my mum a new zeal and energy. She was always creative and she started painting lively floral abstract art, often with doves. She also started playing the piano again. She enjoyed telling people about finding Liz," - Samantha Stacey.

"Aunty Liz always knew she had a sister who had been given up for adoption and wanted to find her. She had looked but had not been able to find her. The reunion resolved this life-long longing."

Ann's painting to celebrate finding Liz which symbolises them being in the womb together

Ann (born Patricia Susan Lamb) and Elizabeth were born to Alice Lamb in Aldershot, Hampshire, UK, on 28 February 1936 before Ann was adopted soon after and found a home with a nearby family.

Ann Hunt at the age of 1

Elizabeth stayed with Alice and moved to Hemel Hempstead; from there she joined the Women's Royal Navy Service and was posted to Malta where he met future US Navy husband, Warren Hamel (known as Jim), ultimately emigrating to Portland in Oregon with him.

Clockwise from left: Elizabeth and Jim Hamel at their wedding, Ann and Jim Hunt on their wedding day and their mother, Alice, with her husband George Burton who she married aged 48

The pair reunited after Samantha, who had been looking into her family history, came across Elizabeth's information and wrote to her.

"I wrote to Elizabeth on my mother's behalf a carefully worded letter as we didn't know how much she knew, saying we were connected to her on her mother's side and had some information that would be of interest to her," said Samantha.

"Aunty Liz guessed what it was about and got her son to phone us straightaway.

"I found she [Elizabeth] existed when I was trying to track down the stepson named on Alice's death certificate. He had died but his son replied and told us about Liz."

Needless to say, Ann was thrilled to hear from her twin.

Elizabeth Hamel, left, and Ann Hunt, right

"I was over the moon, I couldn't speak. I had to pinch myself because I realised 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," - Ann Hunt.

Samantha added: "Mum and Liz had different personalities but had lots in common. They were both very caring, very spiritual and loved their family and nature.

"It was fun to watch them interact together. Mum and Aunty Liz would chat on Skype regularly."

The following year the sisters met for the first time since 1936 in Fullerton, California.

Their first words to each other as they prepared for a hug 78 years in the making were identical: "How lovely!"

Sadly Elizabeth died on 8 November 2014, six months after their emotional reunion.

"Mum was very devastated when her sister died. To find her and then lose her was hard. My mum mourned her deeply but she bounced back."

"She was happy to have found her and to have found out more about her birth mother. It was satisfying to see a photo of Alice and to see a resemblance and also with Alice's mother Hannah. Finding each other was a gift and now their lovely story is given to the world," - Samantha Stacey.

Ann and Elizabeth's grandmother, Hannah

Ann passed away on 16 December 2017, three years after her sister.

Ann leaves three daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild while Elizabeth has left two sons and seven grandchildren.