AN AUDIOLOGIST from Lymington has returned from a successful trip to Armenia providing hearing aids - and he was joined by Elton John. a second hearing mission with Starkey Hearing Technologies. And he was joined this time by Elton John.

Brian Tilley from All Ears Hearing Centre in the New Forest town was invited by Starkey Hearing Technologies to take part in the project.

He joined 14 other hearing audiologists from across the UK and Ireland - and a six-strong team from the hearing device manufacturer’s European headquarters in Cheshire.

Brian travelled 2,400 miles to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia as part of the worldwide Starkey Hearing Foundation initiative, which has provided more than 1.9 million hearing devices in more than 100 countries.

High-profile supporters include Richard Branson and Bill Clinton as well as Elton John, who joined this time with David Furnish.

An initial visit was undertaken by Starkey last summer to carry out hearing screening tests and take ear impressions to identify recipients.

Then in October, Brian and other audiologist volunteers flew out on phase one of the mission to fit more than 1,800 people with hearing instruments – as well as counselling patients and supporting them with that all-important aftercare.

A subsequent visit will take place this month to build upon the work already undertaken.

“I’m very pleased to be asked back to give the gift of hearing in Armenia," Brian said.

"It is great to be involved in something that means so much more to the recipients who haven’t got the facilities in the own communities.

“This is proof that the Starkey Hearing Foundation doesn’t just visit once and leave with no support, it shows that what is given is for the long term with aftercare provided.

"When we last visited we fitted more than 1,800 people with hearing aids and that only scratched the surface. It’s wonderful to be involved in continuing the support of the Armenian people.”

According the World Health Organisation, more than 360 million people have disabling hearing loss, with the greatest number living in developing countries. Unfortunately, less than three per cent can afford hearing aids or access to care.