- West Country (E)
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The boy who overcame his crippling fear of flying by hypnosis to jet home to the UK has spoken to Daybreak about his ordeal.
Joe Thompson, 12, was stranded in the Middle East for 15 months.
He said the extreme phobia "took me by surprise" and found it "terrifying to look" at the plane he was about to board.
When his family was due to return to Britain in June 2012, after his father’s job as manager of a private hospital came to an end, Joe found it impossible to fly.
His hypnotist Russell Hemmings, who runs a flying phobia programme, dubbed Joe's phobia "very extreme".
Mr Hemmings did not normally accompany patients on board flights, but felt Joe's case was so severe he paid for the boy, his father Tony and himself to fly to Heathrow from Dubai.
A schoolboy from Weston-super-Mare who became stranded in Abu Dhabi for nearly 16 months because of his fear of flying is back home after being HYPNOTISED to overcome his phobia..
Twelve year old Joe Thompson moved to the Gulf state with his family in 2009 while his dad completed a work contract at a private hospital, but when he tried to fly home in June last year he was paralysed with fear - and refused to board a plane on four attempts.
It has cost his family £40,000 to stay in Abu Dhabi while they tried to overcome Joe's fear of flying. They even attempted to leave the country by boat and car but were blocked by visa complications.
Finally, after receiving three months of treatment from internationally-renowned hypnotherapist Russell Hemmings, Joe flew home to be greeted at Heathrow Airport by his mother Pauline who was forced to return to Britain last year to resume her job.
Earlier this year hypnotist Mr Hemmings, a British ex-pat living in Dubai, contacted them and offered to help Joe for free. Joe finally plucked up the courage to board a Quantas flight from Dubai to Heathrow at 1am on Monday - despite having a "meltdown" at the airport.
Accompanied by Mr Hemmings and his father, he held his nerve and touched down at 5.30am UK time after a seven-and-a-half hour flight.
Mr Thompson said: "There were some dicey moments before he boarded the flight because he started getting very distressed.
"With Russell’s help he managed to get him onto the plane but soon after take-off he got very upset again but Russell did his magic and all was good."Words cannot describe how happy we all are. It’s wonderful to be home again as a family."
Fear of flying is common among passengers, but for one 12 year-old from Weston-super-Mare it is having a devastating effect - not just on him, but his whole family.
Joe Thompson is so terrified of even stepping onto a plane that he has been unable to leave Abu Dhabi for a year, since his father's work contract finished there. His father says he faces financial ruin if he can't get his son home.