Eastbourne, Wealden & Lewes

Category Archives: General

Nellie’s Arctic Adventure Winter Trail at Sheffield Park and Garden National Trust
22 January 2022 – 27 February 2022

Nellie’s Arctic Adventure brings to life the story of the remarkable Nellie Soames, former owner at Sheffield Park and one of the first women to venture into the Arctic.
Helen Agnes ‘Nellie’ Peel, the granddaughter of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, was just 23 years old when she left London in 1893 aboard the steam-yacht Blencathra bound for the Arctic inspired by ‘youth and a love for adventure’.

Visitors are invited to delve into the tale of this astonishing journey in the winter trail: Nellie’s Arctic Adventure. Her story, as described in excerpts from her book Polar Gleams, is brimming with adventure offering something of interest to all.
Nellie’s link with Sheffield Park came in 1919 when she married owner Arthur Gilstrap Soames, the passionate plantsman who orchestrated much of the stunning spring and autumn colour in the Grade I Listed garden.

Sheffield Park has once again commissioned community artist, Roy Kelf, of Kelf Kreations, to create the centrepieces of the trail depicting the eccentric characters and glistening ice landscapes Nellie encountered on her Arctic adventure.
Kelf enlisted the help of young artists in a series of workshops at local primary schools to create the clever constructions, using his ingenious technique of repurposing used plastic containers. Highlights include the great polar bear and an ice cave in which to immerse the senses in the shimmering lights and sounds Nellie described so vividly in her account.

As well as delighting visitors of all ages, the sculptures carry an important message of sustainability and the preservation of places of natural beauty and historic interest for future generations.

Sheffield Park & Garden Nellie’s Arctic Adventure Trail information
• Trail runs 22 January 2022 – 27 February 2022
• 10am – 3pm to 20 February (10am – 4pm from 21 February)
• Normal garden admission applies. No booking required.
• Sheffield Park & Garden National Trust, Uckfield TN22 3QX
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden

Images: ©National Trust/Oskar Proctor

Drusillas Zoo Discover Sloth-tastic Surprise Baby!

Drusillas Zoo Park are ecstatic to announce the safe and healthy arrival of a beautiful baby sloth – who’s surprise arrival has delighted their team of keepers.

On the morning of 29th November, keepers couldn’t believe their eyes when resident sloth female, Halina, wondered down from her bed to say good morning and had a new addition tenderly clinging to her.

Upon discovering the sloth-sational arrival of what is now the second sloth born at Drusillas Park, the keeping team immediately jumped into action, tending to the tiny babe.

With the new arrival, Drusillas now boasts five Linne’s two-toed sloths in their collection, including six-year-old Flash who was hand-reared by the Park’s resident sloth specialists, Mark Kenward and Gemma Romanis.

Sloths are notoriously difficult to predict pregnancy in, due to the lifestyle they lead – remaining inactive for the majority of the day in a state know as ‘active rest’. They also famously spend most of their time curled up in a big, hairy ball and don’t exactly shout about the fact they are expecting.

Sloths do not always present a big, pregnant abdomen as with most mammal species, as they have 47 ribs that encase their bodies. It is also very difficult to detect pregnancy through the increase in body weight as sloth go to toilet so infrequently. When they do finally decide to use the toilet, they can lose a third of their bodyweight in one sitting!

Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, spoke about the surprise arrival; “We are always prepared for the birth of new infants as we know this can happen at any time. Gemma and I remained at the zoo late into the night to make sure everything was moving in the right direction, with this being Halina’s first born. Whilst baby and mum looked very healthy, the baby on occasion got a little confused and would climb onto dad Sophocles, remaining attached to him for a number of hours.”

“Male sloths don’t usually have anything to do with the rearing of young” Mark continued, “and wouldn’t normally take too kindly to an infant climbing all over them. Sophocles however was amazing and accepted the baby happily, giving Halina the chance to rest – but we did need to get the baby back to Halina to begin feeding.”

“Late into the evening, when sloths are most active, we calmy removed the baby from Sophocles and placed it back on Halina, but not before we had a chance to quickly weigh and check the gender. Halina and the baby – which we now believe to be a female – have been closely monitored ever since. The baby has been feeding really well and received the all-important colostrum from mum.”

Head Keeper, Gemma Romanis, added; “We are absolutely thrilled to bits to share this exciting news with you all, the new arrival is something we are immensely proud of as a team. Baby seems to be thriving under the careful watch of our keepers, and is doing everything she should be at this stage. Halina is being wonderfully attentive, and considering this is her first baby, it seems to have all come very naturally to her.”

The delightful youngster is already becoming a highlight for visitors lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her peacefully snuggled into mum, in one of the Zoos walkthrough enclosures.

As part of their commitment to conservation, in particular the conservation of sloths in the wild, Drusillas proudly supports The Sloth Conservation Foundation and ask visitors to support their mission in any way they can here https://slothconservation.org/.

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am. For more information please telephone 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk

Brighton Dome & Sound UK co-commission a song to celebrate the lives & communities of East Sussex

Brighton Dome has partnered with Sound UK on a nationwide project, A Song for Us, which commissions leading musicians to write new songs inspired by the people of their county. The project seeks to capture the spirit of communities coming together that was felt during the pandemic, while celebrating the uplifting power of music to unite and commemorate the many lives lost across the country.

A Song for East Sussex has been written by Brighton-based band Normanton Street, working with Varndean School Choirs, arranged and led by David Berliner. Taking inspiration from local people’s reflections on Covid-19 and lockdown, The Last Time I Held You explores feelings of grief, loneliness, worry and hope, featuring verses from rapper Bobbie Johnson and spoken word artist AFLO. the poet and vocalist Phoebe Freya singing an emotional chorus with the choir. A special performance of the song, filmed in Brighton Dome’s Concert Hall, will premiere online at brightondome.org on Tuesday 14 December at 12.30pm. It will then be available to watch on asongforus.org for a year.

Normanton Street band member Ned Archibong commented: “My links to East Sussex began when I moved to Normanton Street in Brighton with some friends in 2011. We subsequently started a band named after the street and East Sussex has been a home to Normanton Street and our record label QM Records for years now.

For The Last Time I Held You, we surveyed how local residents were feeling about lockdown, so it’s inspired by them. Their views informed the vibe and some of the words of the track. We took a really collaborative approach and it was great to work with our friends and fellow artists Aflo. the poet and MC Bobbie Johnson on a couple of verses”.

The first song in the project was released on 23 March 2021, to mark a year since the start of lockdown, and forms part of a growing music map of the country that members of the public can also contribute to. People are invited to share songs that hold special meaning for them or capture their experience of the pandemic, with budding songwriters encouraged to upload their own work. So far, more than 600 people from Penzance to Inverness have shared songs, with 85% being original compositions, spanning from a teenager’s reflection of lockdown to a 90-year-old thanking their fitness instructor. East Sussex residents can contribute their songs to the music map on A Song for Us website.

Alongside Normanton Street in East Sussex, 13 other songs have been commissioned across the country, including This Is The Kit & Bucky in Bristol, Seth Lakeman in Devon, Gwenno in Cornwall and Little Boots in Lancashire.

<CANCELLED> AudioActive is pleased to announce that we’ll be running HAF music-making sessions in Bexhill and Newhaven during the Christmas holidays.

Open to young people aged between 14 and 16 who receive free school meals during term time, professional artists will be leading the project that will provide free food, as well as an opportunity to rap, sing, produce and record music [free food & free music-making session].

Michelle Hunter, Director of Programmes at AudioActive says of the project: ‘The last year has been incredibly challenging for us all. As we are all too aware child poverty and food insecurity have seen a rise since the pandemic. AudioActive is dedicated to reaching hard to reach communities and young people to offer opportunities to create new memories and have fun. We will be offering 3 days of Music food and laughter in Bexhill and Newhaven.’

As always, our sessions are open to all skill levels and music of all genres. The free food on offer will be a balanced lunch courtesy of Bagelman.

When is it?

Bexhill: 12pm – 4.30pm (28th December – 30th December)
Newhaven: 11.30am – 3pm (27th December – 29th December)

Where is it?
Bexhill: Sidley Working Men’s Club, 34A Hollier’s Hill, Bexhill-On-Sea, TN40 2DD
Newhaven: Meeching Hall, 2A Fort Road, Newhaven, BN9 9QQ

See our web article here with details on how to sign-up: www.audioactive.org.uk/audioactive-to-run-haf-sessions-this-christmas
For more information about AudioActive, see: https://audioactive.org.uk/

Drusillas to Open the First Attraction of its Kind in the UK

A new immersive experience – SPARK – opens at Drusillas Zoo Park near Alfriston this weekend. The first interactive attraction of its kind in the UK.

Harnessing the very latest in immersive technology, SPARK is the UK’s first and only fully interactive play experience of its size. Extensive 360° projection software transforms an ordinary space into an extraordinary world, offering a highly unique, sensory experience.

From the 20th November, Drusillas invites visitors to burst into a ‘technicolour world of pure imagination’ and embark on a fantastical sensory adventure.

See little eyes marvel in wonder as they discover a magical world where reality and technology collide, in an explosion of colour and light. Walls, floors and little minds come alive as you manipulate imagery, and interact with wild animals on an augmented reality journey that truly illuminates the senses.

Explore the vibrant jungle walls, touch and play with the wondrous watery floors, slide into a magical seabed, visit the plains of Africa, and get lost in the enchanted forest.

Deputy Managing Director, Ollie Smith, spoke about the project: “This is one of the most exciting projects we’ve ever embarked on, and we’ve not seen anything quite like it before ourselves!”

“SPARK has been over 18 months in the making, and the finished result is truly extraordinary – we couldn’t be happier seeing our vision come to life. We worked extremely closely with the developers, Interactive 365, to create bespoke play experiences that no attraction has ever had, and an extensive offering of nine individual interactives – there’s barely an inch of the space that can’t be manipulated by visitors which makes it so incredibly immersive.”

SPARK’s nine interactive games have been cleverly designed to seamlessly flow from one to another throughout the space: dive into the coral reef, leap across the lily pads and splash among crocodiles on the magical interactive floor. Grab yourself a giant pencil and watch the walls animate as you colour in the beautiful animals of the enchanted forest, or design your own animals and release them into the digital wild. Watch as colourful fish follow on your way down the coral reef slide, take aim in the pool ball and watch as your strikes feed the hungry animals, and manipulate the clever illustrations with jumps and leaps!

And, don’t forget to take a wild ride before you leave and commemorate your adventure with an awesome augmented reality photo and video atop a rhino, ostrich or zebra!

Drusillas have invested half a million pounds in the state-of-the-art attraction with the unique offering taking its place among their already considerable menu of experiences including zoo, rides, playgrounds, splash pad, soft play, train ride, and Jurassic Jungle, securing their place as one of Sussex’s most loved family destinations.

A number of high profile social media influencers, including Binky Felstead and her family, attended a pre-launch event last weekend, with hundreds of colourful posts flooding the Park’s feed as users were keen to share the unique visuals with their audiences. Visitors to the Park from 20th November can book a SPARK experience on weekends and East Sussex school holidays for a small additional charge at the door.

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am. For more information please telephone 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk

Elderflower Fields 2022 – 27-30th May at Pippingford Park, East Sussex
Join our 10th birthday celebrations!

Elderflower Fields is having a party, and you’re all invited. Be part of a fantastic wild weekend of
music, sport, art, performance and non-stop festival fun at the idyllic countryside setting of
Pippingford Park in the Ashdown Forest.

Designed especially for families with younger children, Elderflower Fields provides plenty of
space to camp under the stars with friends for an unforgettable wild adventure. The perfect
chance to set yourself free and connect with nature in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The award winning Elderflower Fields adventure offers some of the finest local artisan food and
drink whilst showcasing a spectacular line-up of performers from Sussex and beyond.
Partnering with a host of experts in sports, arts and nature, families are invited to try new things
together in a safe and nurturing environment.

Everyone’s invited to Elderflower Fields!
Book your wild family adventure today and join the party to start summer 2022 with a bang.
Watch the Elderflower Fields highlights video
Tickets on sale now – see website for current prices

CONTACT AND ENQUIRIES
For more information, imagery, interviews and press pass enquiries contact [email protected]
Elderflower Fields // 27th – 30th July 2022 // Pippingford Park, Nutley, East Sussex, TN22 3HW
Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter /

THE SO SUSSEX FAMILY
It’s hard to believe how a small gathering of just a few hundred friends has blossomed over 10 years into an award-winning family festival welcoming almost 5000 guests. Elderflower Fields was created in 2012 by a team of friends under the So Sussex umbrella. Set within stunning grounds and a magical woodland in the Ashdown Forest, Pippingford Park also hosts So Sussex’s second family festival, Into The Trees.

So Sussex offers people a range of enjoyable, educational and fun outdoor experiences to develop their understanding and appreciation of the local environment. Working in partnership with a range of
wonderfully talented, enthusiastic and professional individuals and like-minded organisations, the team deliver award-winning outdoor experiences including newly launched The Living Coast by Bike and the successful Schools Without Walls programme. Elderflower Fields and Into The Trees are the first two So Sussex festivals encouraging kids and their families to spend more time outdoors.
Since creating Elderflower Fields the ambition has been to create a wealth of great activities for children and families to take part in with organisations who love what they do and can inspire people beyond the festival. In 2021 the festival welcomed around 5000 guests to join the wild adventure, with more entertainment and activities on offer than ever before.

QUOTES
‘Elderflower Fields – Best family festival for trying something new’
‘Elderflower Fields has raised the bar for what I now want out of a family festival’
‘Absolutely magical. I am an avid festival goer and this was just fantastic. It felt like a very safe festival and truly created with children in mind, but still a very lovely experience for the grown-ups too’
‘Such a brilliant festival! So much for the kids to do. The sports and arts camps are great for the kids and give parents a break. They also loved the high rope climbing and swinging on the ropes in the trees. The complimentary Sunday picnic was delicious! I love that it’s not too crowded. So friendly’
‘Second year attending this amazing event and once again exceeded all expectations. The children had an absolute blast! In their words; ‘the best weekend ever and this year was even better!’
‘Fantastic weekend. Our first camping experience as a family and we all loved it. Wonderful
adventures in the wild! Will be back next year to make more memories’
‘What an amazing, extremely well run, family-friendly festival in the Sussex countryside. It’s like a mini, family-friendly Glastonbury – music was great and we loved the green, woodland setting. Our kids thoroughly enjoyed the woodland and nature bits as well as the science tent and rock climbing’

Winter Fair returns to the South of England Showground

The South of England Agricultural Society’s annual Winter Fair is set to return to the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st November 2021.

Open from 9am – 5pm on the 20th and 9am – 4pm on the 21st November, the two-day show is a great way to kick off your Christmas shopping with lots of wonderful gifts and food on sale from local and independent traders, alongside festive fun for all the family.

Friends and families can experience fun Winter activities including Santa’s grotto and giant snow globe, plus there will be live music and a funfair. Workshops make a welcome return to the Winter Fair for 2021 with drop in wreath making, kids festive crafts and the always popular chocolate decoration sessions.

There will be an array of shopping opportunities with Christmas decorations, wooden toys, locally produced artwork, jewellery, country clothing, hand crafted soaps, grooming gift sets, and stunning home accessories. Even four-legged family members will be catered for with a fantastic selection of pet related gifts and goodies.

Food and drink connoisseurs can taste their way around the food halls and stands, and purchase the likes of Christmas puddings, artisan spirits and liqueurs, chocolates, cheeses, homemade jams and chutneys.

Corrie Ince, Show Director at The South of England Agricultural Society, commented:

“The Winter Fair brings together an array of local and artisan producers to offer our visitors an exceptional festive shopping experience. Showcasing some amazing independent businesses means we can offer unique gifts that you wouldn’t find on the high street.

“Visitors can be assured that as a ‘Good to Go’ venue by Visit England, Covid safety remains of utmost importance with numbers being limited for the best interest and protection of everyone, and so we do recommend buying online early to avoid disappointment.

“When you buy a ticket for the Winter Fair, you will also be helping towards our work in highlighting the countryside to the public and supporting people across the South with an interest or involvement in agriculture, horticulture and other related land-based industries. The South of England Agricultural Society is a charity and profits from this show help inspire schoolchildren to learn about the land and where their food comes from, offer travel bursaries for people working in the farming sector and provide grants to students and colleges in the land-based sector.”

Tickets to the Winter Fair 2021 are limited and it is advised to book in advance at www.seas.org.uk to avoid disappointment. Tickets cost £6.75 for adults and £5.85 for senior citizens/students (inclusive of 10% online discount until midnight Friday 12th November). Under 16s go free with a suggested donation of £1.

For more information about the South of England Agricultural Society events, please visit www.seas.org.uk or telephone 01444 892700.  You can also follow the charity @SouthEngShows on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Cocoa for SloCo: 7 & 10 year old sisters fundraise on their doorstep for sloths

Drusillas Zoo Park have praised the heart-warming gesture of two young visitors aged just 7 and 10 years old, who opened a hot chocolate stand on their doorstep to raise money for sloths in the wild – just in time for International Sloth Day on 20th October.

Jola Larribeau Wade (10) and her sister Sylvie (7) wanted to raise money for Drusillas’ charity of the year – The Sloth Conservation Foundations (SloCo) – as sloths are Jola’s favourite animal, and she was looking forward to a sloth close encounter she had booked at the Zoo.

Founded in 2016 by sloth researcher Dr. Rebecca Cliffe, SloCo protects sloths in the wild through research and conservation initiatives in their mission to ‘save the world’s slowest mammal in a quickly changing world’.

The enterprising siblings decided to sell hot chocolate from their front doorstep and made their own posters that they put up in the local area to advertise the fundraiser.

10-year-old Jola talked about the fundraiser “The first day of fundraising was not very successful, but the next day we made over £100! We also had to go to the shop and get more chocolate powder because we ran out!”

“I came up with the idea because my friend had recently run a stall to raise money for Raystede and that inspired me to want to raise money for SloCo.” Jola continued “I love sloths because they are calm, sleepy and a lot of the time look like they are smiling.”

The pair raised £128 altogether, donating the funds and letting the Park know what they had been up to when they visited Drusillas for Jola’s sloth encounter.

Drusillas’ resident sloth expert and Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, praised the girls’ efforts: “It fills my heart with joy to hear of such young sloth enthusiasts! What great initiative and generosity they have shown, thank you! I may be biased, but there’s no creature quite like the sloth and the tropical rainforests they are so well adapted to survive in are decreasing in size every day, so SloCo’s work is vital to keeping them alive in the wild – any money we can raise for them will help their mission.”

To celebrate International Sloth Day, Mark will be giving a sloth talk on Drusillas’ social media joined by Flash – the Linne’s two-toed sloth he hand-reared at the Zoo in 2016. Drusillas and SloCo will be sharing a live Q&A on their social platforms about sloth conservation, and Drusillas are giving away a sloth bundle of goodies including toys, tickets, merchandise, sloth artwork, and a VIP sloth adoption this week.

Sloth close encounters are one of the Zoo’s most popular experiences, with places booked up well into 2022. Jola told the team “The sloth encounter was amazing; my favourite part was feeding Helena and Sophocles. Next, me and my sister Sylvie are going to raise money for the lemurs at Drusillas!”

Donations toward helping sloths in the wild can be made via the justgiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/drusillas-park.

THE RETURN OF THE DREAM EASTBOURNE PANTOMIME: SLEEPING BEAUTY

Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, 10 December 2021 – 9 January 2022

Make a date for your festive celebrations to see the favourite family pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, at the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne from 10 December. The team behind the last 19 Eastbourne pantomimes can’t wait to whisk you away for a whimsical pantomime experience of pure escapist joy, colour and spectacle. It’s bigger, better and booking fast!

The Eastbourne theatres pantomime team are renown for the best show experience for audiences of all ages and this year they celebrate their 20th pantomime production packed with all the classic panto elements; the dastardly villain, a heroic Prince, of course a hapless comedy duo (guess who) and of course stunning visual effects.

Eastbourne favourites, dame Martyn Knight and comic Tucker, will be returning for their eighth time as the South’s favourite comedy partnership. Martyn celebrates his 17th year as resident Dame and audiences can expect shenanigans a-plenty. The cast also includes Carli Norris (EastEnders), Nicholas Pound (CATS, Les Misérables) and Rebecca Hoyle.

Carli Norris makes her Eastbourne panto debut, better known for her long-running roles as Brenda Slater in EastEnders ad Fran Rynolds in Holby City and Martha Kane in Hollyoakes.

Award-nominated Carli is a RADA trained actress who began her career in the West End as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion directed by comedy legend Ray Cooney, moving onto roles opposite stars including Prunella Scales. She has since enjoyed a long television career beginning with the title role in the ITV adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s Tilly Trotter she’s also appeared in dramas including Doctors, Agatha Raisin and Grafters.

Another actor who will be making their Eastbourne panto introduction is seasoned West End actor Nicholas Pound, who also lives in Eastbourne! Nicholas, who moved to in Eastbourne in 2016, is a professional actor/singer who has performed in theatre for over 35 years.

He has played leading roles in Les Miserables, The Rocky Horror Show, Chess, Evita, Notre Dame de Paris and Man of La Mancha, and has a long association with the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and gone on to play numerous times in the West End and internationally.

Completing the line-up is the picture-perfect Belle, Rebecca Hoyle, Rebecca is an actor, singer and performer who has performed in numerous musicals including Oklahoma! Seussical the Musical and Slice of Saturday Night.

Pantomime director Chris Jordan is delighted to have such a talented and versatile team on-board. Chris said: “We literally cannot wait to get back to doing what we do best at the Devonshire Park, and that is present a truly traditional family pantomime full of colour and spectacle and this year we have so many exciting plans up our sleeves it’s going to be a ball!”

Chris added: “It’s great to have something so magical and fun to look-forward to and what could be more wonderful than to end 2021 with a trip to the ultimate feel-great experience for all ages. We are ready to put on a fabulous show for everyone to enjoy, and everyone certainly deserves it!”

The classic story of Sleeping Beauty will be presented in the traditional and slightly bonkers style that our audiences have come to love in the picture-perfect setting of the sumptuous Devonshire Park Theatre, with plenty of easy parking nearby and a wide range of eateries on the doorstep a trip to the Eastbourne panto is a must for a pre or post-Christmas treat.

Sleeping Beauty the famed Eastbourne pantomime is at the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne from 10 December – 9 January. Tickets are priced from £14.50, to book call the box office on 01323 412000 or online eastbournetheatres.co.uk which now gives the option to print-tickets-at-home and choose your seat based on the views which it offers.

Drusillas invites arachnophobes to tickle tarantulas this spider season

As the weather begins to cool and we enter the autumn season, we should brace ourselves for the annual invasion of eight-legged intruders as spider season is upon us!

It’s also around this time that we see a rise in people with arachnophobia. According to statistics, one in five Britons across the UK suffer from this phobia defined as an ‘intense and irrational fear of spiders and other arachnids’.

But are any of them brave enough to face their fears and sign up to tickle a tarantula or befriend a false widow in Drusillas Zoo Park’s spider phobia course – a morning of peace-making with these misunderstood creatures.

Angela Hale, Secretary of the British Tarantula Society, talks about her (unusually) favourite time of year; “The weather has been better recently over the summer months, and so many of the spiders that we find, particularly the large garden spiders, have been very active and have recently given birth. As the weather cools, males can be seen scurrying around as they are on the hunt for females to mate with – which is why it seems like there are so many more spiders about.”

House spiders that run across your living room carpet, and garden spiders that spin large orb webs on your patio furniture can be expected to be seen a lot more over the next few weeks, alongside the so-called ‘false widow’ spiders, which can grow to around 20mm.

“The good news, however, is that even with more than 650 different species of spider in the UK, none of them are considered dangerous to humans.” Continues Angela, “Of course, if you are a prey creature such as a fly or bug then you may be in trouble, but very few are able to bite us – and those that are, are unlikely to cause any long-term harm.”

“The much-maligned ‘false widow’ spiders originate from mainland Europe but are no more dangerous than our own native garden spider. The bite of a false widow is no worse than a bee or wasp sting and they will only bite if they feel threatened or are provoked. Of course, people with allergies to stings should take every precaution available to them to avoid being either bitten or stung by anything.”

Angela continues: “There is no real reason to be afraid of spiders. Our native spiders pose no threat to us. They are essential to our ecosystem; they are our friends – not our enemies – so we need to find a way to learn to live alongside them.”

However, it’s no secret that millions of perfectly rational people still suffer with this irrational fear. No matter how hard they try to remain calm when confronted by a spider, the response is always the same; sweating, nausea, panic, rapid heartbeat and sometimes much worse. Do spiders deserve this reputation? At Drusillas, they believe not and are confident their spider phobia course can assist any arachnophobe to not only overcome their fears, but to leave with a better understanding of these much-maligned creatures.

“We have had a 100% success rate, employing patience and expertise to educate people in a calm and controlled environment. We have participants safely – and happily – holding tarantulas and false widow spiders with no problems at all. At times it can be quite emotional overcoming a fear and it’s an amazing thing to witness. I’d be lying if I said there aren’t sometimes a few happy tears shed on the day!”

“This year’s courses take place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September and we would love to meet any local arachnophobes who are willing to trust us and our beautiful spiders!”

For details on Drusillas’ spider phobia courses head to their website… if you dare! https://www.drusillas.co.uk/spider-phobia-course.

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am. For more information please telephone 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk