Ambassador Spotlight: Carol Ferrone
Friday, 21st June 2024

Carol Ferrone, as the lead talent on ABC TV’s hit Back in Time series, invites her audience on a mesmerising time-traveling journey through 170 years of Australian history, alongside her family. In addition to this groundbreaking television work, Carol has graced various cooking and lifestyle TV and radio shows, and connects with audiences of all ages, as an entertaining and engaging MC and speaker.

Now, as a Shake It Up ambassador, she brings her passion for connecting with people to the mission of raising awareness about Parkinson’s and the need for innovative research to slow, stop and cure the disease. We chatted to Carol all about coming on board as our newest ambassador, and her passion for making a difference.

Hi Carol! Can you tell us a bit about your role in Back In Time?

The Back in Time series (ABC TV) is what happens when you take an ordinary 2020s family back in time 170 years to immerse themselves through 17 decades of Australian history. Our brave, ordinary Aussie family, all comfortably accustomed to the perks of a very modern world, had to source, cook and eat our way Back in Time – through early settler decades, a plague, a pandemic, two World Wars and the Great Depression all the way through to the swinging 60s, 70s, indulgent 80s and into the present. Living without our smart phones, internet, social media, microwave, and dishwasher was just the start of our experience.

In fact, season 2 of our show saw us living without rudimentary plumbing and electricity! Each week our family is transported to a different decade, as we take on the dietary habits, lifestyle, cooking fads and fashion of that period. We must adopt the gender specific roles of each decade – despite what we’ve been accustomed to in our modern life. So, for a modern-day family where mum works, dad cooks, and the children spend most of their time on devices, we were truly tested throughout this journey. I was confined to the kitchen, Sienna (my elder daughter) is in training for her future as a wife and housekeeper and Olivia (youngest) is supposed to seen but not heard!

How did you first get involved in it, and what’s your favourite part about being in the show?

Our story of being chosen for the show/experiment is one of chance. In fact thousands of families had applied for the show and producers just hadn’t found the right family- they hadn’t met us yet!. We were out shopping one night, and a producer just happened to tap me on the shoulder and asked if we were interested in applying for the show. After a short audition and interview process over a couple of weeks, the show was ours! Three successful seasons later (and fingers crossed more to come!!!) it has changed our lives in more ways than we can count! Not only have we been able to live and experience history firsthand (the good, the bad and the ugly!) but we’ve been able to share our experiences with audiences across Australia and worldwide. People of all ages have reached out to tell us how much they’ve enjoyed our honesty and integrity in which we’ve shared not only our experiences, but the stories of people long gone. I now speak on stage, at schools, and have opened up my life to a completely new world of possibilities. I have found my true calling.

My favourite part is twofold. Firstly, the Back in Time series encompasses all my passions in life, wraps them neatly into one and allows me to share them with the audience: Family, food, human interest stories, period fashion, interior design, history, immigration and culture.

Secondly, through firsthand experience it has allowed me to share stories of the past in a way that hasn’t been told before – through the eyes, emotions and with the knowledge of someone from the present, all with the benefit of hindsight. I have run a busy corner shop for 170 years in which real-life members of the public shopped, came in for a gossip and in turn made some lifelong friends! I have felt deeply the emotions of a mother sending her son to war and shed the same tears, I have felt the weight of shame hearing the story of young Indigenous soldiers being shunned from marching on Anzac day and not being allowed in the pub for a drink.

Why did you choose to become an ambassador for Shake It Up Australia?

Our lives were shaken up over a decade ago when my brother-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Here he was, the comedian, the life of the family and party, suddenly faced with this unexpected,  life-changing affliction and all of this came from what seemed like unrelatable symptoms. He had lost his sense of smell and had a metallic taste in his mouth, not the stereotypical shakes that we would normally associate with Parkinson’s sufferers.  For me, becoming an ambassador is about raising awareness as well as funds for research. He has been fortunate to have been involved in various trials, some  of which have been beneficial however as his decline becomes more rapid and we watch him become a shell of the man he used to be, I realise that more research and development needs to be done in order to stop the progression of this disease and eventually find a cure. In addition to this, awareness about early detection is paramount. Not all sufferers experience the shakes. To this day, my brother-in-law still has not. But his speech, gross and fine motor skills have been greatly affected as well as his attention span and emotional state.

What inspires your commitment to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease?

I’ve learnt that I can use my voice and my profile to make a difference and raise awareness about early detection as well as assist in raising funds for research and development to halt the progression and eventually cure Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s affects not only the individual, but entire families, spouses, children, siblings – extended families, friends. In this case, my brother-in-law was in his 50s, his prime, his children raised, ready to travel and enjoy the rest of his life and he was thrown this curveball .

What advice do you have for anyone else wanting to shake things up and make a difference?

Think outside the square! We always say, ‘every dollar counts!’  To know me is to know that I will dance anytime, anywhere (any decade!). Why not host a dance party or ‘shake-your-booty!’ fundraiser, or a fun Milkshake day at school or the office – but don’t just stick to vanilla & chocolate, make it fun with some funky flavours to keep things exciting!  Hosting a fancy soiree? Hire some old-school 1920s bartenders (see what i did there!!!) and get them to ‘shake up’ some jazzy cocktails that your guests can purchase for your cause. If you are a business looking to expand your philanthropic efforts, perhaps it’s time to put your funds towards causes that do not have the big budget advertising yet still require attention.

Most importantly if you, like us, have someone in your family suffering from Parkinson’s disease, remember that they may not be exactly the same as before, but their heart and humour still are.