Meet The Famous Sextuplet Sisters: 30th Birthday, 6 Tattoos, 3 Engagements, No...

Meet The Famous Sextuplet Sisters: 30th Birthday, 6 Tattoos, 3 Engagements, No Babies (PHOTOS)

By Daily Mail Online on March 17, 2014

Graham Walton remembers the day the bombshell hit. Well, he says, it felt like a bombshell at the time.

With hindsight, it wasn’t even a firecracker. ‘We’d been on the adoption list and got word we’d been accepted and there was a baby available – possibly twins,’ he explains. ‘Well, I freaked. I said, “Twins! I can’t deal with twins!” To be honest, at the time I wasn’t even sure I could manage one baby. I didn’t think I was good enough.’

Graham’s wife Janet had been told at the age of 16 that she was unlikely to have children naturally, and the couple thought they’d exhausted the medical help available at the time.

They went on holiday to Malta to have a think about the adoption offer – but by the time they returned, events had overtaken them. Janet was pregnant – with sextuplets. Graham – our very own Pa Walton – was about to become one of the most famous fathers of all, six times over.

The rest is history. The Walton sextuplets – Hannah, Ruth, Luci, Kate, Jennie and Sarah – were born in Liverpool on 18 November, 1983. Arriving 31 and a half weeks into their mother’s pregnancy, they made front-page news, capturing the hearts of the nation, not just their parents.

Today, the Waltons – who are still the world’s only surviving all-girl sextuplets in the world – have just celebrated their 30th birthday, which no one outside the family can quite believe.

‘Everyone who remembers watching them on the TV when they were born says it makes them feel old,’ comments Janet, 61. ‘I say, “Can you imagine how I feel, then?”‘

Next week, all six sisters and their parents appear in an ITV documentary that follows them as they celebrate their milestone event.

There are the usual presents and cake, and a very modern extra: the girls mark their 30th by getting matching tattoos.

Janet says she wasn’t thrilled at the idea of a family trip to the tattoo parlour – ‘but it was what the girls wanted to do’.

Each sister gets six hearts tattooed – but not all have them on the same part of the body.

Also in the programme, they travel to the States to meet up with another set of sextuplets – toddler boys, and as boisterous as they come. It makes all the girls consider how many children they want themselves.

‘I think it was an eye-opener for them,’ says Janet. ‘I was just a year older than they are now when I had them, and to see these little ones running riot was really something,’ explains Janet. ‘I think it brought home just what their dad and I had to deal with. I’m not sure any of them will be aiming for six children – certainly not all at once.’

In fact, Ruth says she’d quite like six, ‘but I’m afraid to say that because it might freak out my fiancé. I don’t think I could cope with six at once, though.’

Luci wants children too, ‘but how do you manage six at once? When we left the other family, I remember saying to Mum and Dad, “We weren’t like that, were we?” Mum said, “You were exactly like that.” I honestly don’t know how they did it.’

It’s a joyous programme – and catching up with the family back in the UK is equally cheering. Ruth reveals she’s just got engaged. ‘He popped the question on Valentine’s Day,’ she says of her fiancé Rob – so there’s talk of a wedding next year.

What the girls are up to now

HANNAH is currently  single and living at home  in Wallasey with Mum and Dad while she saves up for  her own home. She has  two degrees, is a qualified primary school teacher  and currently manages  an opticians. She likes  to shop and has five wardrobes for her clothes.

RUTH lives in Wallasey and  is engaged to Rob, who works in admin. She’s employed in  a call centre in Birkenhead. Very sociable, she wants to get married and have a baby.

LUCI is cabin crew for  Thomas Cook and engaged  to Paul, a bakery supervisor  for Morrisons. She loves her job, is saving up to get married and wants to keep flying.  Mum Janet calls her ‘dizzy’.

KATE is single, lives in Wallasey and works in the  HR department of John Moores University, where  she also studied. She’s keen on fashion, bowling and cinema – although her family describe her as ‘serious’.

SARAH has an office job  in a local medical centre.  She’s engaged to restaurant  worker Kieran and the pair have just bought their first home in Wallasey. Mum  Janet thinks Sarah is the one  most likely to marry first.

JENNIE lives in Leeds  with her boyfriend Matt,  a market trader, and runs  a retro sweet shop called Sweet Things selling novelty items like bouquets made  of confectionery. The pair  met in Majorca when Jennie worked as a holiday rep. After ten years abroad, they’ve recently returned to the UK.

Since this brings to three the number of Walton sisters who are engaged, it seems like there might actually be a race to get down the aisle. Have they considered a triple wedding? ‘I suppose it would mean Mum only needing to buy one hat,’ Ruth says with a laugh. ‘But I don’t think it will happen.’

Their father’s in no hurry for any of them to get married – for financial reasons. Ever since they’ve been old enough to have boyfriends, Graham has been telling the world that he’s quite happy with them all living in sin, ‘if it would save me a few bob’.

What’s remarkable about the Waltons is how close they all seem. Geographically, none of the girls has strayed too far from their parents’ home in Wallasey on the Wirral. Hannah still lives with them, and four of the others live within a few miles. Even Jennie, the farthest-flung, is only in Leeds, where she’s settled with her boyfriend.

They’re also close emotionally. ‘They’re friends as well as sisters, which I always think is lovely,’ says Janet. ‘You can’t predict that.’

Growing up in the spotlight can’t have been easy, though. Janet and Graham first allowed the cameras into their lives for financial reasons.

Graham, a painter and decorator, had to give up work for a year when the girls were born, and the money from media deals and sponsorships was essential.

As public affection grew, however, it became expected that they would have each milestone documented, which did cause problems. Ruth explains that there was a ten-year period when she refused to take part in publicity.

‘I said no when I was in my teens,’ she says. ‘I was the controversial one! I just didn’t want the attention any more.’ Part of the reason, she says, was a very teenage one. ‘I was trying to get into bars and clubs, and the bouncers would recognise me as one of the Waltons and know that I wasn’t old enough.’

The other reason was more serious. ‘We did get grief,’ Ruth continues. ‘People would come up and say nasty things. I used to get annoyed when they’d ask, “Are you one of them test tube babies?” (For the record, the Waltons weren’t born as a result of IVF; Janet was treated only with fertility drugs.) That sort of attention doesn’t bother me so much now – people are usually really affectionate towards us, and I can see they want to know how we’re getting on – but for a while it was difficult.’

The other sisters have always seemed at ease with their fame. Luci, who works as cabin crew for an airline, says it’s because they’ve never known anything different. ‘I remember when we went to school for the first time and there were TV cameras following us. We didn’t think that was odd – but what was odd was that the cameras weren’t following the other kids.’


Their fame has mostly been a blessing, she says. What other kids their age had Phillip Schofield coming to the house, as they did? ‘And we got to travel to amazing places like Disneyland; we’ve also been to New York a few times. People are mostly lovely. It’s never bothered me.’

Janet points out that the constant documenting of the girls’ lives has an upside for her too. ‘Most mums never get round to sorting out all the photographs, or putting all the home video footage together. We’ve had a lot of it done for us,’ she says, laughing. ‘Which is just as well.’

What shines through when talking to Janet and Graham is just how positive they are. Graham is a natural joker – he gives after-dinner speeches now, mostly about what it’s like to be the only man in a house of seven women – but the couple put the fact they’re still together and still smiling down to their optimism.

In the documentary, presenter Michael Aspel comments that Janet must have been ‘selected  by some great power’ to be a mum on this scale.

So, does she think she was special? ‘No, I don’t, and when people talked about me being a supermum figure, I thought it was too much  of a responsibility. We had a lot to live up to. But I don’t think I was anything special. And remember I had a lot of help. Graham was fantastic – he couldn’t have been a better dad. And we had both our sets of parents around. It really was a team effort.’

Janet and Graham says they can't wait for the arrival of grandchildren


Obviously there were desperate days. ‘What the cameras didn’t often capture were the awful times, like when all the girls had chickenpox, one after the other,’ Janet recalls.

Graham says he too had dark moments – mostly related to that sleep-deprived time when he and Janet barely moved from the sofa and one feed merged into the next. ‘You get that, as a parent, don’t you? I do remember that feeling of, “What am I doing here? I can’t handle this.” Once or twice I remember getting in the car and driving – just to get out of the house and to clear my head a bit. The cameras don’t want to see that, though. The people watching don’t want to see you screaming your head off.’

Mostly, though, they remember the good times. ‘We’ve never stopped reminding ourselves of how lucky we are,’ says Graham. ‘Even at the worst times you remember there are people who can’t have children, and how blessed we were to have not one but six. At each stage, even though there have been challenges, we’ve reminded ourselves of that. I’ve loved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s been one great big adventure.’

Of course the adventure isn’t over yet. Whether or not there are weddings to plan, it’s pretty inevitable there will be a new Walton generation in the not-too-distant future.

‘A lot of people think we should all have been married and settled down with kids already,’ says Ruth. ‘But there’s no rush, is there?’

Their parents, meanwhile, can’t wait for the arrival of grandchildren, and are already quelling their daughters’ anxieties about whether they’ll be able to cope with parenthood, whatever form it takes.

‘The girls all say they couldn’t manage with six babies,’ says Graham. ‘But I know them, and I tell them they could. They just don’t realise it.’

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