Ruth Pennington was a village vet who had a relationship with Joe Sugden but was engaged to a rich Irishman called Liam. In late 1987, Joe became involved in a horse riding accident but was not badly hurt. The horse was, and Ruth had to put the horse down. Ruth became friends with Sandie Merrick. Ruth and Joe had an on off relationship and she returned to Ireland to marry Liam. However, in April 1988, Ruth told Joe that they can be together now that her and Liam have split. However, Joe later found out that Ruth was still in contact with Liam and they called off their relationship. Ruth tried to talk Joe round but he felt he could not trust her, and would always be second best to Liam. They then parted ways for good. In July 1988, Ruth decided to return to Ireland for good, so that she could marry Liam, but she promised to keep in touch with Sandie.