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Doreen Bates was the daughter of Harry Bates and younger sister to Terry Bates. The closest Doreen had to a mother was Rita Littlewood, when she went under the name of "Rita Bates" as Harry's common-law wife.

Doreen would often be looked after by Terry as their parents worked hard. Ken Barlow, in the capacity of deputy head of Bessie Street School, took an interest in the welfare of the children and asked Terry to tell Rita not to work so hard. Rita took offence to Ken's interference and complained to school headmaster Wilfred Perkins about him.

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