THEY have been almost inseparable since the day they were born.

Like many sets of twins Emmal and Hannah Safi share a special bond and have led remarkably similar lives over the past 21 years.

They went to the same college and university, achieving similar and in one case identical results.

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Hannah and Emmal with their brother Nori

Now after more than two decades together the sisters, of Dene Way in Ashurst, have finally reached the parting of the ways.

The two women have gained PhD places at different universities. Hannah will study biosciences at University College London and Emmal will study astrophysics at Keele University, in conjunction with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford.

Despite their sadness at being separated the twins know it is time they both started making their own way in the world.

Emmal said: “We can’t do the same things for the rest of our lives. We’ve got to go our separate ways at some point – and that point is now.

“It’s going to be a good experience but a bit scary at first.”

The twins were born in Newcastle but the family moved to Hampshire 14 years ago. After being schooled at home by their mum Pamela and dad Sab they went to Brockenhurst College, where they sat A-levels in chemistry and physics.

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The twins graduating from the University of Portsmouth

Last month they both graduated with first class honours degrees in applied physics from the University of Portsmouth.

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Asked about their imminent separation Emmal said: “It will definitely be strange at first.

“We spend a lot of time together because we have the same friends and similar interests. We love badminton and also walking in the New Forest. Not seeing each other is going to be really difficult.”