A SCHOOLBOY who had such severe arachnophobia he would not stay in a room if he saw a spider’s web, has been cured thanks to a special birthday party and a giant helping of school spirit.

Samuel Barr-Ellis, from Llanfechain in Powys and in Year 2 at Bellan House in Oswestry, asked his parents for an exotic animal party, for his seventh birthday, with as many large spiders as possible as he was determined to overcome his fear of them.

Samuel’s mum Jo Barr she and her husband Rob Ellis were quick to point out to their son, his party could be terrifying for him.

But Samuel was adamant it was something he wanted to do, as some of his friends, who are also his classmates, had similar fears and he hoped the party would help them too.

Jo said: “As the person who was traditionally called in to check for and remove any spiders or webs before Samuel uses the bathroom, I know he had a very genuine fear – so the party request was not at all what I expected.

“He has always loved animals but he’s had a longstanding fear of spiders which we have never been able to help him get over but he assured us he knew what he was doing asking for the party.

“His school had taught him about resilience and courage and he thought it would be a great chance to show those and learn about exotic animals too.”

Jo booked Simon Airey’s Shrewsbury-based Corner Exotics for the party which took place afterschool in a private room at The Townhouse in Oswestry in January.

At the party, Samuel and his classmates were able to meet, learn about and handle a wide range of insects, reptiles and mammals ranging from a Chinchilla to large snakes and when it came to holding some very large spiders the newly turned seven-year-old was first in line.

Jo said: “When it was time for Simon to bring out the first spider, I was thinking I hope this wasn’t a mistake, but Samuel agreed to hold it and he looked surprisingly comfortable – we were just so proud of him.”


Throughout the party, Simon explained to the children and their parents that people of all ages, have fears of things such as snakes and spiders but we are not born afraid of them.

She added that Samuel imagined his fear of spiders was a balloon that he was able to let float away.

Bellan House headteacher, Claire Belk added: “I loved hearing how the values that we bring alive in school were shown to be understood so well beyond the school gate and indeed while having so much fun."

Jo added: “Simon was just brilliant, as the party was both educational and fun but the fact, we were hosting it in the first place was down to Bellan House and the ethos of the whole school.”

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