A boy who has been partially deaf for nine years was suddenly cured - when a cotton wool bud popped out of his ear. Jerome Bartens was diagnosed as deaf in his right ear when he was just two and has struggled at school ever since.
But Jerome, now 11, was suddenly able to hear clearly again as he played with friends in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. He said he heard a popping sound, then found the tip of a cotton wool bud in his ear.
His family believe Jerome must have put the bud in his ear as a toddler and the centimetre-long cotton tip came off the plastic stem.
Jerome's father Carsten, 45, said: "It was just incredible - his hearing returned to normal in an instant. He was cured as suddenly as he became deaf. I had always suspected Jerome had stuck something in his ear when he was little and that was causing the problem. But the doctors and hearing specialists said it was wax and he would probably grow out of it. I am amazed they didn't spot something as obvious as a cotton wool bud."
Jerome has kept the waxy bud as a souvenir.
His family believe that as he grew the bud has been forced out - and finally came out nine years later.
Jerome said: "I can hear much better now and I think I'll be much happier at school now my ear does not ache all the time. I was just playing pool in the church hall when my ear made a popping noise. It was very strange at first to be able to hear everything. But now I'm getting used to it - it's great that people don't have to shout to me or that I don't have to turn my head all the time."