Weston-super-Mare fear of flying boy to stay in Abu Dhabi

Joe and Tony Thompson talking to BBC Points West via Skype
Image caption Joe does not know what is causing his reaction to flying

The parents of a boy who will not leave the United Arab Emirates due to a fear of flying have said they have given up trying to get him to Somerset.

Joe Thompson, 11, and his parents were supposed to move home from Abu Dhabi to Weston-super-Mare on 1 July.

But he said his body "locks down" every time he goes near the airport.

His father Tony said his son's panic attacks have become worse and they have decided to abandon attempts to return him for the time being.

The family had been living in Abu Dhabi and had planned to move back to Weston-super-Mare.

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

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

Mr Thompson arranged for them to return by ship via Saudi Arabia but he could not get a visa for the country.

HRH Prince Mohammed, Saudi Ambassador in London, then instructed that they were to be issued with visas.

The pair were also offered a car and driver by VW to get them back to the UK.

'All the anguish'

But Mr Thompson said they were later told that their proposed route via Egypt could not go ahead "because of the worsening security situation in Egypt".

VW Middle East, the German Medical Centre in Sharjah, and German airline Lufthansa then started working together to fly Joe to Frankfurt, which would involve sedation and a doctor accompanying him on the flight, in the early hours of Tuesday.

Image caption Joe's mother, Pauline will remain in Weston-super-Mare

They would then return to the UK by train via the Channel Tunnel.

But when he informed Joe of the plan, his son had a "huge anxiety attack", Mr Thompson said.

"At this point I realised that it was time to stop putting him through all the anguish and to seek longer term medical intervention in the UAE," he said.

Mr Thompson said his wife Pauline would remain in Weston-super-Mare, while he and Joe would stay in Abu Dhabi, where Joe would be enrolled in school.

Mr Thompson said was looking for work there, and the long-term aim was to get Joe back to North Somerset.

"It was disappointing but the challenge now is to get Joe sorted out, get him settled back here, no anxieties, and get him some medical help which we're starting this coming weekend," he said.

"It'll just be Joe back to school, back in his rugby, back with his friends, and then hopefully overcome his anxieties and then at some point in the future we'll be able to get him back home to England."

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