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Urika, I'm cured; Geller works his magic to help a butterfly phobic face her fear.

EVER since she was a child Gwawr Bell has been frightened of creepy crawlies -especially fluttery butterflies. Just a glimpse of their flapping wings would send her into a fearful panic.

As a child her parents would have to clear her bedroom at night of anything creepy or fluttery. Summer was a nightmare. And even as a grown-up a neighbour would do the honours if a stray red admiral or swallowtail flew into her house.

Little did she realise that it would one day take all the psychic powers of famous spoon bender Uri Geller to help her defeat her fear.

"Once, when I was living in Cardiff, there was a spider between me and a bath that was running. I threw three encyclopedias onto it and called my dad on Anglesey/' she recalls.

"In the end a man from next door had to come and get rid of it for me."

With such a track record you can only wonder why Gwawr chose to buy and run Anglesey's Pili Palas Butterfly Palace at Menai Bridge?

"I was a senior producer for the BBC and I had child and had another on the way," she explains. "My husband Steve and I had built a house on the Menai Strait, which was unsuitable for children so we were looking for a change of job and home.

"Steve discovered Pili Palas was up for sale and I agreed to look at it. When I got there I asked 'will there be a lot of butterflies' which was a really stupid question there are hundreds.

"I got to the door and couldn't go in. I just ran away. But the business had lots of potential and the house was really nice so it was ideal in many ways."

Convinced she could spend her days tucked away in the office safe from the fluttering horror within, Gwawr went ahead with the plan.

"I'd say to my husband, how are the butterflies and he'd say to go in and have a look, but I couldn't," she says. "I was doing the school visits, which I really enjoyed, but the trouble was that another member of staff would have to go and take the children into the butterfly house for me so I was really missing out.

"I didn't want to pass my fear onto the children so when I was asked if I wanted to take part in Mae gen i Ofn! (I'm petrified) I said yes, straight away.

"When they said I would meet Uri Geller I wasn't bothered what he did so long as he sorted me out. But on the morning I went to meet him I was very nervous because I knew I would be visiting a butterfly farm with him near his home in Reading that afternoon."

Trembling with fear Gwawr came face to face with the mystic and found herself unable to stop looking into his eyes.

"He was so charismatic, not aloof as I expected," she says. "I can't really tell you what he did. I couldn't take my eyes off his. He did get me to close them for about 15 seconds but I didn't feel as if I was being hypnotised.

"He just said 'now you won't be frightened of butterflies any more.'"

Still anxious, Gwawr set out with Uri for the farm.

"I didn't know whether it had worked sol still felt really nervous. But when we got there he said you have overcome this' and I just walked in.

"There were hundreds of butterflies and I felt " totally calm, I even held them I and they were I landing on me. It 1 was amazing but I insisted on going back in there with the film crew when Uri had gone to make sure.

"That was last year and I've been fine ever since. I even touched a tarantula the other day!"

In the Criccieth-based Chwarel TV production two other women face their fear of flying. Menna Medi from Groeslon and Mari Owens from Blaenporth, Cardiganshire, join a course run by Aviatours at Manchester air-port and meet BA pilots. After a relaxation session with a psychologist they put their new confidence to the test - by stepping aboard a 45-minute flight.

Famous phobics

Ronald Reagan and Johnny Cash were phobic about flying

Adolph Hitler was claustrophobic as was Harry Houdini

William Shakespeare, Benito Mussolini, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great all suffered from ailurophobia or the fear of cats

Sigmund Freud was terrified of ferns

Actress Natalie Wood suffered from a fear of water, hydro phobia, and tragically died by drowning

Tennis star Andre Agassi is scared of spiders

Interview With a Vampire Author Anne Rice has nyctophobia, a fear of the dark

Actress Katharine Hepburn was frightened of fire

O'r Galon: Mae Gen I Ofn S4C, Tuesday, 9pm

CAPTION(S):

It worked on spoons but will it work on butterfly jungle owner Gwawr Bell (above) who has a fear of creepy crawlies and (below) with Uri Geller
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2007
Words:835
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