FOR years Alfie Gibbs, who was born completely deaf, would not wear his hearing aids because he was too embarrassed.

The situation got so bad, his family and the youngster even began learning sign language to communicate better.

But now the 10-year-old is beaming with pride after becoming the first person to be fitted with unique hearing aids branded with AFC Bournemouth’s crest and colours which even received the seal of approval from his football heroes.

With his new lease of life and able to hear much more than ever before, football-mad Alfie has showed off his new novel hearing aids to the team and is even playing the game himself.

His mum Charlene, 35, from Wallisdown, 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. His face said it all and I never have to tell him to put them in.

“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.”

The Cherries fan is now the talk of his friends thanks to the novel idea from the Audiology Team at Dorset HealthCare with support from the Premier League club and London-based hearing aid manufacturer Starkey.

Alfie showed off his unique hearing aids to Cherries striker Callum Wilson and midfield ace Dan Gosling after the club invited him to meet some of his heroes at the club’s Vitality Stadium.

Alfie also wears the moulds while playing for the AFC Bournemouth Ability Counts football team, a side run for people of all ages with different abilities.

Lisa Nind is Lead Clinical Scientist for paediatric audiology at Dorset HealthCare, and has worked closely with Alfie and his family.

She said: “Alfie has been attending our audiology department for many years, and we all knew how much he loves AFC Bournemouth. Seeing how proud he is to wear the new moulds is fantastic.

“Using colours and pictures for hearing aids has actually been around for about 15 years, and we find it’s really helpful to get children to engage with their hearing aids, particularly if they have chosen the picture.

“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 is Disabled Liaison Officer at AFC Bournemouth. She 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.”