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Worcester Alumni Launch Book Aiming to Reduce Fears of Spiders

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Two University of Worcester alumni have combined their talents to produce a book which aims to reduce the fear of spiders among children.

‘Cobweb Capers’ is a collection of short stories written by Dr Jane McGee and illustrated by Marisa Lewis, both of whom studied at the University, and were introduced through Piet Grobler, Senior Lecturer in Illustration.

The book, which contains activities and stories concentrating on the antics of five spiders, is designed to help children aged between five and seven years old develop a liking for spiders rather than a fear.

Dr McGee, Subject Leader for Psychology at Old Swinford Hospital in Stourbridge, explains: “I hope the book will help children develop a positive view of spiders and inspire an interest in nature.

“The initial idea for the project came about when I took a group of students on a spider phobia workshop – I was teaching phobias and I wanted students to see an example of how phobias can be treated in a real-world setting.

“I was amazed that students who were initially afraid of spiders all volunteered to handle a Chilean Rose Tarantula at the end of the session. This showed to me that familiarity can reduce fears and even increase a liking of spiders.”

Dr McGee is donating all royalties from the book to two charities –Winston’s Wish, a child bereavement charity, and Help for Hugo.

Help for Hugo is a trust fund set up to support Hugo Bowers, the baby son Captain Rupert Bowers, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan in March 2012 while serving with the Mercian Regiment.

Dr McGee continues: “Shortly after I wrote the first story, I heard friends and ex-school mates of Rupert Bowers give an extremely moving talk during an assembly. I was especially poignant for me and other staff who taught Rupert.

“His friends were organising a charity bike ride to raise money for the trust fund for Hugo, and they have completed several different fundraising ventures since then. I am very pleased to be able to support Help for Hugo by donating my royalties from this book.”

The book, published by short story publisher Alfie Dog Fiction, launched earlier this month and is available from www.alfiedog.com, Amazon and other leading internet booksellers.