SUCH was Jim Duncan's phobia of dentists that it would take a raging toothache for him to make an appointment.

Visits for check-ups or to see the hygienists didn't figure on his radar and his wife Jacky had long since given up trying to make him go.

But step forward hypnotherapist Stuart Harragan and, after just two sessions, Jim, of Upper Stratton, is positively happy to have his teeth checked out and is even prepared to undertake a filling.

His link-up with Stuart came thanks to dentist Patrick Holmes, who earlier this year opened the Seven Fields Dental and Health Centre at the newly renovated Groundwell Farm, near Blunsdon.

Seven Fields is Wiltshire's premier centre for health, care and wellbeing.

It combines the latest in dentistry with a range of alternative therapies, such as podiatry, physiotherapy, Thai massage, and hypnotherapy.

Jim, 52, a maintenance manager at a stables, said: "Patrick is a fantastic dentist and Jacky has been a patient of his for years and always received wonderful care, but I've never been able to bring myself to go along unless it's a real emergency.

"I don't know what it is, or why my phobia started, but I'd only visit Patrick if I needed to, so that has been about once every five years."

Jim said he was forced to visit Patrick at the beginning of the year when he cracked a tooth which he feared would cause an abscess.

He said: "We were due to go on holiday and I didn't fancy having bad toothache, so that's the only reason I went to see Patrick.

"He knows exactly what I feel about dentists so he suggested I have some hypnotherapy."

Jim saw Stuart at Seven Fields twice and found the results amazing.

He said: "The first visit to Stuart was mainly a consultation to see if he could help.

"Then during that visit and the follow-up one he somehow got me to relax really deeply, even though I was conscious of everything all the time.

"Then he just talked plain sense to me. I went with a very open mind and I was hopeful that it would work.

"Now I can't say I'm exactly jumping with joy at the prospect of a visit to the dentist - not too many people are - but I am perfectly prepared to go through with it.

"I am now waiting for my appointment to see the hygienist and I have no worries about it at all."

Stuart said he regularly treats people with phobias, such as fear of spiders, heights or agoraphobia.

"The first time I get to know them and the second time is more about guided relaxation so that the client is aware of what is going on and I use the information I have gathered from them to explore why they are afraid and how to overcome that fear," he said.

Mr Holmes is delighted Jim has overcome his fear.

He said: "Jim is so much more relaxed now, and I can see the hypnotherapy has really worked. I'd recommend it to anyone who has a similar phobia."