Bolton Ferret Welfare

'Ivy Ferret: One-to-One - The Ferrets First Interview'

IVY FERRET has taken the media world by storm. In huge demand on radio and TV - and adored by her army of fans for her charitable works - Ivy's rise to fame has been meteoric. Incredible to imagine that just five months ago, this tiny one-eyed ferret was alone and penniless. Since she made a home with Dr June McNicholas, publicity officer with the National Ferret Welfare Society and a noted author and broadcaster, she has never been out of the limelight. In an exclusive interview with Ferrets First, Ivy tells her amazing rags to riches story.

Ferrets First: Ivy, it's a great pleasure and a privilege to be granted this interview

Ivy: Yes, it must be.

FF: You've just finished a gruelling round of media interviews. How do you relax?

Ivy: Music and exercise. I really enjoy music and I spend hours reorganising the CD collection. My idea of relaxation after a hard day in the studio is to listen to some music while I roll in an ash tray - it's wonderfully invigorating and juggling with cigarette ends keeps me supple. However, cigarettes are not anything I'm proud of and it's important to let my very young fans know that I never inhale - kits are so impressionable these days.

FF: We've all read your incredible story in the tabloids. Take us through it. Is it true you were discovered on a building site?

Ivy: Yes, it's true, I was found on a building site. A nice young man called Justin from the RSPCA rescued me. However, just because I was on a building site doesn't mean, of course, that I come from labouring stock. No one knows - not even me - how I came to be there. It's quite romatic really, I have no recollection of anything before that day, although I sometimes have the feeling I must come from somewhere special. I can't explain it, it's like dim dreamlike memories of a stately home, staff, a ferret court in rolling grounds.

FF: You spoke in the FT (Ferret Times) about receiving some help along the way. Will you name names?

Ivy: Justin, of course, as I said. Then there's Julie from Sleaford Ferret Rescue, she looked after me for a while, and Jenny Loweth, she also looked after me. Lovely people, both of them, and I still love them to bits. I was offered other homes while I was with Julie, and I did try them but they didn't work out. That's when I went to stay with Jenny. It was while I was with Jenny that Dr June heard about me and I suppose you could say I was head-hunted. She and her hobsband or whatever you call human partners - Dr Jeff, heard about me and how lovely I am and she - Dr June that is - said that she believed I'd be perfect as her advisor in her work. You see, she's the publicity officer for NFWS and needs quite a bit of help, poor thing, when she's doing articles, photographic work, TV and radio. Of course, I'm happy to help her out. Between you and me, though, I have wondered if she feels a bit pushed out. After all, since I arrived on the scene, no one really wants her any more. Still, it can't be helped, you can't disguise real star quality, can you?

FF: You're looking radiant after working so hard these past weeks but there are rumours in the showbiz world that you are unhappy with your weight and are trying the revolutionary F (Ferret)- Plan diet. Is it true?

Ivy: No it certainly is not. I do get cross about these stories and references to my weight. Really, success doesn't depend on having a figure like Kit Moss. I know I'm no racing jill but it certainly doesn't concern me much. When you have so many other assets, weight is relatively unimportant.

FF: Your nails and coat are stunning. How do you find time to keep up a beauty routine and have you any tips for other jills?

Ivy: Most of it is natural. I don't have to do much at all. I do find putting my head in a yoghurt pot when Dr Jeff's finished with it very helpful to the coat condition. It feels odd at first because it dries spiky but when Dr June sponges it off, my coat feels wonderful. And it's a tip that all jills can follow. You don't have to be a star to take care of yourself. The other thing to remember is that beauty comes from within so you need to be in touch with your inner jill. My Sheng Fui advisor told me that I should embrace pink and it really does help me commune with my inner feelings. I even have the Financial Times in the little jill's corner now - such a lovely delicate, but reserved, pink.

FF: Again, we've all read in the tabloids. Is it true that you find relationships with other ferrets difficult?

Ivy: It's hard to know what to say to that. What with my amnesia, I can't really recall any relationships in my past. It is true that I've not had a successful relationship since I was discovered, and really I'm just too busy to look for one at the moment. It may happen, I suppose, but I don't feel it's important at present.

FF: I know you refuse to talk about your past and how you lost your eye but do you feel your disability makes you a role model for other ferrets with special needs?

Ivy: Yes, I suppose it does show if you have talent like I do, it doesn't matter that you are not a special colour or bred for a specific purpose. I hate this notion of 'designer ferrets' - you make your own success if you are good enough. Good heavens, there's enough 'manufactured' stars as it is - Hobszone and what's his name from Kit Idol. Mind you, when you are successful it can bring a few nasty comments and if you do have a disability it can be used against you. I was referred to in one column in the gutter press as a 'Lack-eyed White' - which I think is cruel and disgusting. Anyway, that's in the hands of my lawyers now.

FF: Tell us about your charity work.

Ivy: I love meeting with the children at special needs schools, they are so full of fun and a real inspiration. People refer to me as having a disability but to see some of these kids and their families and realise what they have to overcome - well, it's humbling. I'm very proud to be part of a visiting team of different animals which go into schools and hospitals. I even like the rabbits on the team, although there's an ugly rumour being spread that I have an ulterior motive for being friends with them. I am also keen to promote relationships with other nationalities. I met a group of French ladies while we were filming in London. They didn't speak much English and I don't seem to speak French - possibly a result of amnesia again - so I had to rely on Dr June to tell them all about me. That was a test of trust, I can tell you! She says she told them that I liked to groom her hair and sit in her blouse, but I'm not at all sure her pronunciation was quite right. I suspect she have told them I liked to wallop horses with a rolled up surgical appliance. Those of you who speak French will understand the minutiae of the pronunciation.

FF: One minute you are alone and destitute, the next, you are photographed with Jenni Murray in the Woman's Hour studio. Do you have to pinch yourself sometimes to believe all this is real?

Ivy: Well no, not really. It just seems so natural somehow. I enjoy radio work and Jenni was a poppet to work with, but I do prefer TV. I have done several programmes over the last few weeks, interviews with BBC Midlands and so forth. I have a children's programme coming up soon for the BBC, too. Somehow this all seems more real than that time on the building site, although I can't explain why. Dr June is a psychologist and she's going to 'regress' me under hypnosis to see if we can discover my origins.

FF: What would you say to other jills hoping to become media stars?

Ivy: "Tough, sweetheart, I'm here first!" No, seriously, I'd encourage anyone to try to go for the big time. You need to believe in yourself, but you also need to be realistic. Not everyone can go straight to the top. You might need to start with something a bit more menial, like taking a job laying cables under studio floors. It's slightly easier if you are a polecat ferret because you can get some work impersonating real polecats for natural history programmes, but it's hard to make the first contacts if you are a sandy or an albino. But whatever you do to get on, do it honestly and morally 'respectable' in the eyes of the public and one false nip or an episode with a casting hammock would undo all the good PR work that's been done.

FF: What's next?

Ivy: Lunch, I hope. I'd ask you to join me, but it's a rather exclusive restaurant - I'm sure you understand.

FF: Thank you.

(From Ferrets First Issue no. 6 June/July 2002)

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