We Have Been So Lucky . . . It Was a Miracle; in the Final Part of Our Report, Jan Walton Tells SUSAN LEE How Her Six Daughter Have Grown Up

Article excerpt

Byline: SUSAN LEE

THE Walton sextuplets were born at odds of 104 billion to one.

But all six girls take their unique place in history remarkably in their stride.

"We have always encouraged them to be individual, " says mum Jan.

"We never sat them down and made a big speech about how it all came about. They just accept that they are six sisters all born on the same day."

Janet Walton smiles with pride as she talks of her children, about to reach the milestone birthday of 18 on November 18.

"People always knew who we were of course. You couldn't miss us, taking six children out in baby buggies. But people quickly got used to it.

"Graham and I have worked hard not to let them be treated just as one person.We rarely dressed them the same - I think one of the first times was when they all went to Weatherhead High School and they were all in uniform - and in the past they've even had separate birthday parties."

In the early years Janet admits that running the house was a little like running a nursery but pnpoints her own personality as a key factor in helping her cope with the seemingly enormous task of parenting six children at once.

"We are both very laid back people, very practical and sensible.

"We learned it's no use worrying about problems that might never happen, we just take it as it comes.

"Ours has always been a very busy house, lots of coming and going because the girls all have different friends.

"We encouraged a sort of open house situation, especially in their early teens, because then we knew who they were hanging around with."

Each girl has her own bedroom in the eight-bedroom house the family share in Wallasey.

"We thought it was important as they grew for them all to have their own space, however small, " Janet explains.

They also try to make time for each other as a family, sitting around one huge table to eat and share news.

Does she think any of them ever hanker after being an only child?

"They've never said and I don't think so. They fight and bicker like all siblings but they are very, very close. They all have their feet very firmly on the ground. They take the interviews and press interest all in their stride. And they've never known anything different."

Although the girls undoubtedly look alike and are all academically on a par, each is carving her own definite career path in the world.

HANNAH is the eldest by about three minutes and according to Janet "totally organised - a bit like her mum."

She comes across as quiet and academic and is currently studying for 'A' levels in psychology, biology and business studies. She wants to go to university but in Liverpool - she doesn't want to stray too far from her family, after all.

"Then there's LUCY. She's full of fun and loves to go out.

"She works at the Royal Sun Alliance but has also done a one-year child care course, " says Janet.

RUTH is busy studying on a two year diploma course in nursery nursing at Weatherfield High, the Wallasey school all six attended.

"She's always been interested in child care. She came home the other day and told me: 'mum, you have no idea how hard it is to look after kids'. I had to laugh."

SARAH too works for the Royal Sun Alliance and has been described as one of the shyer girls, while KATE is studious and after 'A' levels in English Literature and Language and history is interested in a career in the media.

"I suppose she can see things then from both sides, " reflects Janet.

JENNY, who has inherited the tall elegance of her mum, is currently taking a break to consider career options. "She's definitely the one with the dryest sense of humour."

There have been boyfriends, the girls borrow each other's clothes and, says Janet, when she irons on the landing it's like being in a disco - "different music coming from every room". …