Last weekend we told you how Ruddington’s Wilbur the Cat had taken to social media and issued villagers with an invitation to his tenth birthday party next month. Since then, it seems the fame of our village’s favourite feline has spread right around the world!
You can read more about Wilbur >>HERE<<. As well as RUDDINGTON.info spreading the news last Saturday of his special celebration, the idea of a ‘cat party’ also caught the attention of national news media, leading to an initial call from the BBC to Wilbur’s ‘publicist’ Nicola Burton! Nicola reveals: “As of last Friday he had about 450 followers, and then the BBC published their article last Saturday. Now, less than a week later, he has over 1500 followers on Facebook and has gone completely global!”
Nicola recalls she was with her husband and two little sons when they spotted Wilbur sauntering across High Street a couple of months’ ago. They were laughing at his air of self-importance. It was then that she acted upon a previous idea of setting him up a Facebook page. On May 6th “Wilbur – King of Ruddington” was created, with a view to maybe getting him a couple of hundred followers. But, when she and fellow Wilbur fan Sarah Godfrey hit on the idea of throwing him a special tenth birthday cat party at The Frame Breakers, the idea and the page went viral! After first being on East Midlands Today he was featured on national BBC News and Radio 4’s ‘World At One’. Articles about Wilbur appeared not only in the Nottingham Post but in The Metro, The Independent and even The Irish News. Not ALL local media have been quite so lucky – with Wilbur on an extended walkabout and nowhere to be found when a crew from Notts TV arrived to try to film him on Monday! (You can click on the image below to view their Wilbur-less report.)
Birthday cards have spontaneously started to arrive (top picture) – with not everyone completely sure how to spell his name! “Then, yesterday morning, I discovered he’d had over 20,000 views on WeChat – China’s equivalent to Facebook – and within hours was over 100,000!! continues Nicola. “One of his Chinese fans said that someone had commented that he wanted ‘to be a stray human in your village because you are all so super nice!'”
Followers on Wilbur’s Facebook page are certainly from far and wide across the globe – Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, America – even Kurdistan!! “I think it’s absolutely amazing and unbelievable that Wilbur, his parties and Ruddington have got coverage worldwide” says Nicola. “People obviously love Wilbur but they also seem to love Ruddington and our sense of community, the fact he’s having parties held for him, the charity fundraising element of it and lots of people have commented that it just makes them smile. It’s all just a bit of fun and all very light-hearted! It does, however, feel very surreal that it has all gone quite so crazy and that we have been receiving messages from International press agents, news channels etc!! I loved seeing the article below earlier – the BBC story published in Russian!!”
Indeed, Wilbur is set to get not ONE but TWO tenth birthday parties. Ruddington’s branch of Nottingham Building Society is having a small daytime do on Friday July 5th to pay homage to its frequent customer. But his big bash is on Sunday 14th July from 4pm until late at The Frame Breakers’ pub. Wilbur masks are being created for partygoers alongside his existing merchandise, fundraising cupcakes and little knitted Wilburs for the evening’s charitable cause – Emma Scott‘s crowdfunding for more lifesaving defibrillators in the village. You can find this page online >>HERE<<. The pub will be putting on cat themed drinks (hair of the cat/pink panther, etc!) and holding a raffle. You can see the latest party details >>HERE<<.
Nicola admits: “It’s very hard to say whether Wilbur will turn up to his parties. He does love a good snooze at the Nottingham Building Society after a night on the tiles so could well be spotted there with his bestie Lesley. Perhaps he will come and blow out the candles on his cake at the Frame Breakers but, if not, then his ‘official’ owner Cathy Appelbee is on standby to do so on his behalf!!”