Ruth Wilkinson Ailsa Piper
Ruth Martin (née Wilkinson, prev. Hails, Wilkinson) 1996-1999
Born: c. 1959/'60
Marital Status: Bill Hails (divorced 1996), Philip Martin (1998-)
Children: Ben, Anne and Lance
Family Tree: Wilkinson
Kind and caring physiotherapist Ruth Wilkinson arrived in Ramsay Street following Helen Daniels’ second stroke, and immediately butted heads with Helen’s grandson-in-law, Philip Martin. Philip only had Helen’s best interests at heart, but Ruth told him that he needed to allow her to get on with her job, as she knew what she was doing. After one argument too many, Phil sacked Ruth, but after a chat with her, and having seen the effect her departure was having on Helen, they made up and he re-employed her. Meanwhile, Ruth had just been through a difficult divorce from Bill, the father of her twin children, Anne and Lance, and had problems of her own, needing to find somewhere else to live. After defending Ruth during one of Bill’s outbursts at Ruth’s place, Phil quickly offered her the property he owned across the street, number 32, for rent, and she gladly accepted and moved in along with Lance. Anne had decided to stay living with her dad and his girlfriend, although it wasn’t long before she found the situation awkward and came to stay with her mum and brother, where they were also joined by a dog, Bonnie, that Lance found one day.
Having got over their initial problems with each other, the romantic tension between Ruth and Phil simmered for several weeks, particularly when he helped her to redecorate the kitchen and they almost kissed. However, Philip also strongly disapproved of his youngest daughter, Hannah, dating Lance, which led to several arguments over parenting skills with Ruth. As well as Philip, Ruth also developed something of a feud with his elder daughter, Debbie, who she accused of not looking after Helen properly when she left her alone one night. The tension between Phil and Ruth finally boiled over when they spent the day making mince pies for the Ramsay Street Christmas party. After spending most of their time arguing over how best to make the pies, they eventually realised that all of the arguments were futile and shared a kiss, witnessed by a shocked Lance. Unfortunately, although Ruth and Phil were keen to get together, Lance proved to be only the first of many roadblocks for their romance.
Meanwhile, after developing a close friendship with her neighbour, teacher Susan Kennedy, Ruth agreed to join the Erinsborough High PTA. This, of course, provided her with another opportunity to fall out with Phil, the PTA treasurer, as she attempted to sort out the school’s money problems and Phil vetoed all of her ideas. After admitting to Susan that she did fancy Phil, it wasn’t long before the rumour was all around Ramsay Street, but, not wanting to hurt Lance’s feelings, Ruth told Phil that they should simply stay friends. It wasn’t long before Lance realised that his mum deserved to be happy too, and approved when she asked Phil out to a hospital function. The evening began badly when Phil bent over and split his trousers, but things soon picked up and the first big date ended up being a success.
Unfortunately, just as it looked like Ruth and Phil were going to settle into a happy relationship, Debbie reared her ugly head once again and attempted to split them up. However, this time, they managed to get past it, as well as problems with being caught by the police breaking into a holiday home and Phil’s rash, which he thought was due to him being allergic to his new girlfriend. Ruth’s life was suddenly turned upside-down when mysterious young man Ben Atkins moved in next-door at number 30. At first, Ruth was extremely unsettled by the interest Ben was taking in her children, particularly Anne, but his reasons suddenly became clear when he told Anne that he was her half-brother. Ruth was forced to relive the painful memory of giving up her baby at the age of 15, at the request of her conservative parents. Ruth struggled to deal with the sudden reappearance of her son, but Philip proved to be a strong support and Anne and Lance also slowly accepted that they had a half-sibling. Ben soon found himself work as a mechanic in the area, and later bought into a garage with Lou Carpenter, meaning that he had plenty of time to get to know his real mother.
In an attempt to bring their two families closer together, Ruth and Phil took Lance, Anne and Hannah away on a camping trip, which ended in typical disaster when they ended up bringing a deadly snake back with them, and it got loose in number 32. In the weeks that followed, Ruth struggled in her relationship with Phil, as he failed to assert himself, and they ended up splitting up, with Ruth announcing that the family would be moving away, as she didn’t want to rent Phil’s house from him. Fortunately, the kids didn’t want to leave and managed to convince their mum to stay put. Before long, Ruth cemented her place in Erinsborough by joining the medical practice of Susan’s husband, Karl Kennedy.
Soon after, Ruth ran into an old flame, Alistair O’Connor and the pair were soon seeing a lot of each other, much to Phil’s horror. After a few weeks, Ruth and Alistair were an item once again and Phil struggled to contain his jealousy. Fortunately, Lance was around to prove how much he’d grown up by getting his mum and Phil back together. Ruth’s presence in Phil’s life was timely, as she helped him come to terms with the death of Helen Daniels, his grandmother-in-law, who had been around for him and Hannah ever since they’d lived in Ramsay Street. Following Helen’s death, Phil began to hint to Ruth that she should move in, but she didn’t want to live together out of wedlock, and neither of them was quite ready to commit to another marriage. However, a few weeks later, as they watched Ben take part in his race as a racing car driver, Phil suddenly proposed. Ruth was taken aback, but had no time to reply, as Ben’s car crashed and he was rushed to hospital.
Following Ben’s accident, his family went through an agonising wait to see if he would fully recover. During that time, Ruth was in for a huge shock when Ben’s natural father, Geoff Burke, suddenly turned up, having read about the accident. Although it looked like Ben might never walk again, his continued started to improve, but Ruth warned Geoff off, telling him that the shock of his arrival could prove to be a setback for Ben. After finding out who Geoff really was, Ben decided that he wanted to get to know his dad, and Ruth reluctantly allowed Geoff to stick around, and also arranged for Ben to stay with her at number 32, so she could be his on-site physiotherapist. Although the recovery process was slow, Ruth was horrified to find out that Geoff had shown Ben a video of the car crash, in the hope of helping him to move on psychologically. After several weeks, Ruth was upset to learn that Ben had accepted an offer from Geoff to move down and work near him in Sydney. After a while, however, she accepted that Ben and Geoff needed some time together, and said her farewells to Ben.
Meanwhile, having accepted Phil’s marriage proposal, plans for the wedding began. In the lead-up to the big day, disaster struck when Ruth found a breast lump and was terrified that she might be about to die. The wedding was brought forward and Ruth had her dream day, taken to the church on the back of a motorbike. At the reception, she received a call giving her the all clear in her biopsy results, and she and Phil were able to happily move on with planning their new life together. With Ruth, Anne and Lance moving into the Martin house, things got off to a slow start, particularly as Hannah failed to get along with her new stepmother. Meanwhile, Ruth’s good friendship with Susan was also threatened when a break-in at the school led to serious problems as Philip had made a mistake with the insurance. As the matter dragged on, Ruth began to doubt whether Susan actually cared about their friendship at all, but the matter was quickly patched up when Ruth had to rush up to see her parents in Broome, when her mother was taken into hospital and her dad struggled to cope alone.
After several weeks away, Ruth returned to find a newly-redecorated house, but Phil on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, there were more problems when Ruth spoke on the phone to Lance, who was spending a few weeks fruit-picking in Mildura, when suddenly there was a loud crash and the phone went dead. Fortunately, Lance wasn’t injured and returned home a few days later, where Ruth had managed to calm down a stressed Phil and the arguments had also died down, as Hannah was away, spending six months in France with her friend, Claire Girard. However, before long, Ruth had someone else to feud with when she took an instant dislike to the surgery’s new receptionist, Pippa Layton, and it soon developed into a feud with Karl.
However, her other issues were quickly forgotten when Ruth received a mysterious phone call and started to make secret trips out. When Phil caught her shouting at someone on the phone, she claimed that it was her mother, who was having problems settling into her new care home. However, as Ruth’s mysterious visits continued and she made excuses not to spend time with Phil, he caught her out lying about visiting Graham Pinders – whose son, Pinhead, had been in an accident after which Ruth had found him. Ruth apologised for lying and then covered it with another lie, claiming that she was organising a surprise for Phil’s birthday. Although Ruth managed to use the line about Phil’s birthday to cover all of her subsequent calls and visits, but Phil finally realised that something was going on. Ruth admitted that she was doing something, but couldn’t talk about it and he would just have to trust her. Ruth’s big secret was finally revealed when Hannah returned home from France and spotted her stepmother hugging a strange man in the park. With the children all suspecting that Ruth was having an affair, she was finally forced to confess that she’d been helping her ex-husband, Bill, who had been left bankrupt by his wife walking out on him. Although Phil wasn’t impressed with all of the deceit, he understood Ruth’s reasons for keeping it a secret and they managed to get over it. A few weeks later, they all realised the severity of the situation when a debt collector arrived, looking for Bill, and explained that the man had disappeared, owing thousands and thousands of dollars.
However, matters in the Martin household didn’t stay settled for long, as Ruth was horrified to realise that Lance had been concealing a serious gambling addiction and had staged a robbery at number 26 in order to pawn his grandfather’s valuable fob watch, and that she was one of the last people to find out. Lance decided to write his mother a letter and it did the trick, bringing mother and son back together. A few weeks later, mother and son took a trip up to see her parents and check how they were settling in at their retirement home.
Upon returning from Broome, Ruth found Phil on the verge of another emotional breakdown, as some advice to Lou had led to him losing his friend as well as the business of his biggest client, Gordon Collins. She was still surprised, though, when he announced that he was interested in taking a job with The Badenbridge Foundation, a company who helped homeless people and were based in Darwin. She supported his decision to look into it more, but when Phil announced that he wanted to accept the position with them and move the whole family up north, Ruth wasn’t sure. Although she realised that the fresh start would probably be good for them, it took a lot more to convince Hannah that it would be a good idea. Things only got worse when Ruth was invited to interview for the vacant position of Head of Physiotherapy at the local hospital. It was her dream job, but Phil made it clear that he would still be going to Darwin, regardless of her decision. Hannah became concerned that Ruth and Phil were about to split up and told Ruth how important she’d become to the family. Although Ruth was then offered the job, she pretended to Phil that she hadn’t been and that their plans to move could still go ahead.
Phil was touched when he learnt the truth soon after, and their house went on the market. Ruth was concerned that she would be leaving Anne and Lance behind to fend for themselves, but Lance soon found a room at number 30. Anne, meanwhile, announced plans to move into a warehouse with her friend, Fanto Hodges. At first, Ruth wasn’t keen on the idea, but when she saw the place, she changed her mind. With everything sorted out, the packing began, but on the eve of their departure, Hannah was distraught when she couldn’t find the ring that Rosemary had given her after Helen died. Luckily, Ruth realised where she’d put it and went down to the removal firm to retrieve it. That evening, Ruth and Phil went to the pub for a few drinks with their old mates, before spending one final night at number 26. Before they went to bed, Ruth told her children how much they meant to her, and made them promise that they’d take care of each other. The following day, Ruth, Phil and Hannah, along with Bonnie the dog, piled into the car and said goodbye to their friends and neighbours for the last time.
• In 2005, Ruth made a cameo appearance in Annalise's 20th Anniversary Documentary
Episode 2842: Ruth's Arrival
Episode 2842: Ben's Confession
Episode 3109: Philip and Ruth's
Episode 3418: The Martins' Departure
Biography by Steve