Cherries fan Alfie Gibbs recently became the first person to be fitted with hearing aids branded with his club’s crest and colours.
The ten-year-old’s new kit came after a novel idea from the audiology team at Dorset HealthCare, with support from the club and London-based hearing aid manufacturer Starkey.
Alfie also plays for the Ability Counts football team which forms part of the wider AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trusts, Premier League and BT Disability Programme.
The young fan was also one of the first Cherries to wear the new Umbro home kit over the summer, when he represented the club at the Festival of Sport.
Alfie lives in Wallisdown with his mum Charlene, who said: "Since the age of four, we have really struggled to get Alfie to wear his hearing aids as he often got embarrassed - to the point where we both turned to learning British sign language to help him communicate better.
"But we have seen a real transformation in Alfie since he got these branded hearing aids and it is such a simple idea. He is more confident, and his communication is improving significantly by the day. He never takes them out and is always showing friends and family."
Alfie was even more thrilled after the club invited him to meet some of his heroes as the Cherries fan got to show off the unique hearing aids to Cherries players Callum Wilson and Dan Gosling at Vitality Stadium.
Lisa Nind is lead clinical scientist for paediatric audiology at Dorset HealthCare, and worked closely with Alfie and his family to bring the creative idea to life.
She said: "Alfie has been attending our audiology department based for many years, and we all knew how much he loves AFC Bournemouth so it was a no-brainer. Seeing how proud he is to wear the new moulds is fantastic.
"It is so important a child wears their hearing aid as much as possible throughout their early years, particularly at school. When children grow older they can become quite self-conscious and embarrassed, so anything that makes them feel proud and enjoy wearing them is invaluable."
Alice Jeans, disabled liaison officer at AFC Bournemouth, said: "We are delighted that having the club’s crest on his hearing aids has helped Alfie feel more confident and developed his communication skills."