Somerset

Joe Thompson, 11, left in Middle East by flying fear

Joe and Tony Thompson talking to BBC Points West via Skype
Image caption The family has tried on three separate occasions to get Joe on a plane

The family of a boy from Weston-super-Mare have been trying to bring him home from the Middle East for a month after he suddenly developed a fear of flying.

Joe Thompson, 11, should have flown back from Abu Dhabi with his parents on 1 July, but said his body "locks down" every time he goes near the airport.

He has taken medicine and tried hypnotism, but nothing has worked.

His father Tony had arranged for them to return by ship via Saudi Arabia but could not get a visa for the country.

Mr Thompson said: "We should have been travelling on a container ship back from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia today but unfortunately the Saudi authorities have blocked two applications I've made for a visa to enter Saudi so we can't do that.

"I'm looking for alternative routes which won't go through Saudi which is basically going by sea out round by Yemen and up the Red Sea to Suez and hopefully pick up a boat in the Suez/Cairo area to get across to Europe.

"Once I get to Europe I can get the rail link or hire a car so there won't be a problem. The difficulty is getting out of the Middle East."

'Like a switch'

The family has tried on three separate occasions to get Joe onto a plane but when he gets to check-in he becomes too traumatised.

"We flew a hypnotherapist out from Bristol to travel with him," said Mr Thompson, "but it didn't have any effect.

"This has just developed. It's like a switch has been switched on."

The boy, who has been flying since he was three months old, said he did not know what was causing his reaction to flying now.

Image caption Mrs Thompson said they were "firm parents" and "not cosseting him"

"I was quite fine in the car and then once I got to the check-in desk, that's when I became terrified, scared, and then my body just went into lock-down and just got stuck," he said.

His mother, Pauline Thompson, who has now returned to the UK, said: "We tried to bring him home three times.

"On each occasion he's completely freaked out and the ground crew said that they couldn't take him because he was a danger."

Mrs Thompson said she and her husband had both given up their jobs in Abu Dhabi in order to return to the UK on 1 July.

"If we had known the extent of this we would have kept our jobs and stayed out there for another year to get him treatment," she said.

"We are not cosseting him in any way whatsoever. We are very firm parents with him.

"It wasn't us who told him he couldn't fly it was the airline, so it was out of our hands."

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