Seven-year-old Samuel Barr-Ellis has been terrified of spiders from a young age.
The schoolboy’s arachnophobia is so bad that he regularly calls his parents to his room to check for spiderwebs.
So when Samuel wanted to have a birthday party with exotic animals, his parents, mum Jo Barr and dad Rob Ellis, warned him this might be a problem.
But Samuel insisted – explaining that some of his friends also suffered similar fears and he wanted to help them overcome them.
Jo, of Llanfechain, Powys, 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.’
Samuel’s party included a range of insects, reptiles and mammals – from Chinchilla’s to snakes – and was approved by Simon Airey’s Shrewsbury-based Corner Exotics.
The seven-year-old even went one step further to face his fear at the party and held a spider himself.
Recalling the event, his mum Jo added: ‘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.’
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