Devoted pensioner siblings die within days of each other

A BROTHER and sister who were described by neighbours as being best friends who spent almost their whole lives sharing a home have died in their sleep, only days apart.

Walter Shaw, 88, and his sister Charlotte, who were separated for the first time when she went into a residential home last year, both passed away last weekend.

A care worker who was visiting Mr Shaw at his Oxgangs flat to tell him about his sister's death found he had also died in his sleep.

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It is believed that she died on Friday and Mr Shaw died on Sunday night.

Miss Shaw spent her final year in Colinton Care Home.

Today, neighbours described how the devoted elderly pair had spent hardly any time apart.

Margaret McKiernan, who lived two floors above the Shaws, said she would often have tea with the brother and sister.

She said: "I was absolutely shocked when I heard they had passed away at the same time. I didn't even know that Charlotte had died until I went to her home to take her some flowers and comfort her at Walter's loss.

"I was quite gobsmacked to hear they'd gone together.

"They kept themselves to themselves, but they did like a blether. I don't think they'd ever been apart until she had to go in a home last year after suffering from a stroke. Neither of them ever married. He was quite upset when she left and he'd go to visit her every day. They had lived in the flat for around 50 years."

It is thought that Mr Shaw, who had worked in the building trade, and Miss Shaw, who used to be a nurse at City Hospital, will be laid to rest at a joint funeral.

It is thought that they did not have any other relatives.

Ms McKiernan said: "They were very private and they'd do everything together. They had a sister but she died a few years ago, I never saw any other friends or family.

"Charlotte had crazy wirey hair and she had a brilliant memory. When you were having a cup of tea she would ask all about your family members and she knew all their names. They both used to go on all their trips and holidays together. I don't know if they were ever apart."

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A neighbour living opposite the Shaws, who asked not to be named, said she was "saddened" by the news of their deaths, but took some comfort from the fact that Mr Shaw never knew of his sister's passing.

She said: "In a way, I think it's a good thing that they went together. He was devastated when she went into a home and her death would have really upset him.

"It's nice to think of them together now. Synchronised deaths seem quite strange, but they say in a close relationship that if one goes, the other soon follows."

She added: "She needed to go into a home because her sight wasn't good and she kept falling over. Walter visited every day.

"He was a proud man and he just got on with things.

"It's quite unbelievable how close they were. I never, ever saw anybody visiting them. They were private, but very friendly."

Police are appealing for any relatives of the couple to come forward.

A spokesman said: "We know that his parents were called Joseph Shaw and Margaret Lauder, however we have no information about any surviving relatives, and we would be keen to trace them as soon as possible.

"Anyone who has any information that can help our inquiries should get in touch on 0131 311 3131."