11 year old Erewash inventor wows TV show viewers and stars

Published on: Wednesday, 6th March 2024
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Fidget boy Max with his Dad
Fidget boy Max on This Morning (ITV logo is copyright ITV plc) (Image credit: Erewash Borough Council)
Fidget boy Max's shirt

An 11 year old boy from Erewash has amazed the stars of ITV programme This Morning as he showed off his invention of a revolutionary T-shirt – which has gone into production thanks to a borough council grant won by his dad’s business.

Max Palfrey hit on the idea of incorporating a “fidget popper” toy to soothe youngsters like himself who suffer from neurodiversity and sensory issues.

The gizmos are sewn at waist level into seams that have been designed to be barely perceptible. That is because seams in regular T-shirts irritate kids with extreme sensitivity. Max himself has autism and ADHD.

This Morning presenter Alison Hammond giggled as co-presenter Paddy McGuinness, who has three children with autism, modelled one of the Fidget-T shirts – which are made from beech tree pulp that is turned into supersoft fabric.

Max, from Little Eaton, told how the built-in toys are called Pop-Its – and described how pressing them has a “calming” effect. He said: “They help to regulate me. I have something that I can fidget with and I can do it without anyone knowing. My goal is to help more children like me and families.”

The young entrepreneur was joined on the show by his dad Matt, who has set up a business to launch the range of patented T-shirts.

A research and development grant of £13,430 was last year awarded by Erewash Borough Council. It is government levelling-up money from what is known as the Shared Prosperity Fund.

The grants are poised to resume this year when more pioneering local enterprises will be invited to apply in late spring.

Max said of his invention: “One day, when I was playing with one of my fidget toys in my room, I suddenly had a brainwave: why wasn't there a T-shirt that had one of these built into it?”

His dad said proudly: “The response to our Fidget-T has been overwhelming. The first batch of T-shirts sold out really quickly.”

There are now plans to design other clothing such as school uniforms and underwear. Matt said: “We want to take the idea into adult clothing.”

He described the business as “Max’s baby”, adding: “He’s been involved in every step of the way and every decision. It wouldn't exist without him.”

Mum Lauren recalled how her son would like awake screaming as a tot “because of the feel and material of his baby-grow”.

She said the reaction to her son’s invention of the Fidget-T had left the family “quite emotional”.

Lead member for Town Centres, Regeneration and Planning, Councillor Alex Breene said: “Max has already got a UK patent for his Fidget-T shirts – and has European and Worldwide ones pending. The council has been only too happy to help with this amazing success story – and we welcome fresh applications for R & D grants as soon as the scheme resumes.” 

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