The identical Gagen triplets started at school full-time this week, trotting off in different shoes to help their teachers tell them apart.
The boisterous Mildenhall trio will be staying at Ramsbury school all day for the first time today after going in mornings-only since term started. This gives mum Emma Gagen some time to herself during the day for the first time since Archie, Henry and Baxter were born four and a half years ago. This has given her an opportunity to enrol on an upholstery class at the village hall. Since the boys were born in March 2008 Mrs Gagen and her husband Guy have had their hands – and their washing machine – full.
Mr Gagen, who works for the National Farmers’ Union, said the odds of having identical triplets were estimated at about 600,000 to one with medically identical triplets being born only about once a year in the UK. And, by an amazing coincidence, one of Emma Gagen’s former St John’s School classmates Jenny Webb, who lives near Taunton, had triplets six weeks later but she had girls and only two of them were identical. The boys had previously attended Ramsbury Pre-school two mornings a week, so they know a lot of the other children in the reception year at the primary school. Thankfully, said Mrs Gagen, 37, her parents David and Mary Fishlock live only a few yards away and her mother-in-law Judith Gagen regularly visits from her home in Bath to take a turn in looking after the boys to give her and her husband some time to themselves. The family has no problem in identifying which of the boys is which but to outsiders they are identical apart from the fact that Henry and Archie both wear glasses. They love going out with their parents visiting country houses, wildlife farms and regularly the three can be seen in their boiler suits helping their father work on his cars. They also love swimming lessons in Swindon and playing tennis. The boys are never far away, said Mrs Gagen, whenever her father, a retired builder, is doing anything with his tools. Mrs Gagen said: “They are similar in so many ways but they have different personality traits developing.”
Archie, Henry and Baxter – the order in which they were born three minutes apart – have a very close friendships, she said, and if one ever needed punishment the threat of being parted temporarily from his brothers did the trick. Mrs Gagen said the 18 nappy changes a day that she and her husband had to deal with were now just a distant memory. “You tend to forget the downsides and remember all the nice things,” she said.
And another sign of the triplets growing up was having their first sleepover at their grandparents’ house in Mildenhall last weekend.