ANIMAL rescue champion Sheila Stewart is well known for her love of creatures great and small.
There is, however, one group of animal, that Sheila, who runs Capricorn Animal Rescue in Padeswood cannot stand – spiders.
But her arachnophibia did not stop her from holding a tarantula in her hands for several minutes to help raise vital funds for the rescue centre.
Sheila described the frightening Halloween encounter, which helped raise £500 for the centre, as “absolutely terrifying”.
She said: “I’m still shaking and my lips are numb.
“I was using yoga to try to keep calm. That was the only way I could get through it and I didn’t initially think I was going to go through with it.
“If it had moved I would have been out of there – I really was absolutely terrified.”
The idea for the challenge came when Sheila made a deal with volunteer animal carer Clive Williamson who needed to lose around eight stone for surgery.
“I never expected he would do it,” she said.
“But he did, and I thought I’m going to have to do this and there is no better time than Halloween.”
Coleg Cambria Northop’s small animal unit volunteered to host Sheila’s fundraising event, and the tarantula hold took place in the college’s exotic room yesterday.
Sheila said: “It felt like it was on me for hours – I don’t know how long it was.
“I did it – I don’t think it’s got me any fonder of spiders though.
“A lot of people have emailed and phoned and said they have got a spider phobia and wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Sheila said the money raised would go towards an ongoing £10,000 project to improve the facilities.
She said: “We’re getting a new rabbit unit where they can all be in groups and they have got more room to move about.
“The fundraising is keeping it going . We’ve got to raise more than £250,000 to keep it running every single year, and that’s before any projects, but we always do it.”
In November, the rescue centre will celebrate 30 years of animal care.