Ruthie Henshall

by Caroline Virr and Victoria Young on Thursday, 2 April 2009

Actress and singer, Ruthie Henshall, 42, lives in Suffolk with her husband, Tim, and their two daughters

“Abi and I are close now, but when we were younger we were always at loggerheads. I was the youngest of four girls, with twin sisters nine years older and Abi the closest in age. We misunderstood each other – I thought Abi didn’t like me and she recently admitted she thought I looked down on her.

My passions have always been singing, dancing and acting, but it took Abi a while before she found her true vocation in psychotherapy. She had no interest in my showbiz life and I certainly didn’t confide in her during my relationship with Prince Edward – she’s unimpressed by celebrities!

It wasn’t until I moved to New York that Abi and I started to talk. And when I had children, she became very involved in my life.

Eighteen months ago, our older sister, Noel, committed suicide, and shortly afterwards my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. Abi and I didn’t share our grief, but we talked afterwards about how we felt. Then, three days after Noel’s death, Abi discovered she was pregnant. It felt like a gift from Noel.

Motherhood has softened Abi and she’s taken to it so naturally. It feels that now we’re both fulfilled, our relationship has become completely non-judgemental.

Now we socialise as a family and see each other three times a week. I find her company a joy – I have the relationship with my sister I always wished for.”

See Ruthie and the BBC Big Band in From Broadway To Hollywood at London’s Cadogan Hall on 14 and 15 August. Visit cadoganhall.com

Abi Henshall, 43, lives in Suffolk with her partner Dave and their one-year-old daughter

“When I was younger, I felt like a misfit and the idea of going out into the world was quite scary, while Ruthie was always sociable, with lots of friends.

Ruthie was born to work in show business and although I was never jealous of her career, I did envy the approval she got from our parents. Ruthie and I didn’t get along and there was a lot of misunderstanding between us, but as we’ve got older the gaps have closed.

The turning point for me was Noel’s death. I decided that in honouring her death, I had to look at my relationships with all my family, and start being kinder. Since then, Ruthie and I have been able to move forward; we see each other as often as we can.”

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