A desperate search to replace a little blue cup has ended after Tommee Tippee announced that it would be stepping in with a free lifetime's supply of 500 specially made cups.

Tommee Tippee is to manufacture a new batch of cups exclusively for an autistic boy after a dad's search went global.

Marc Carter launched an appeal for a 'special little blue cup' for his 14-year-old son Ben, who will only drink from a specific two-handled sippy cup, which he has had since he was two years old.

The cup was originally made by Northumberland-based Tommee Tippee, although manufacturing of the exact model stopped almost 20 years ago.

The firm's attention was drawn to the family's plight when Mr Carter launched the Twitter appeal to find a replacement - his plea was retweeted more than 12,000 times and went viral, with offers of replacement cups flooding in for him.

Nursery company Tommee Tippee has now said it will produce 500 cups specially for Ben after it searched factories right around the world in order to find the original mould.

A spokesman said: "Starting the production of a cup that hasn’t been manufactured for almost two decades isn’t a straightforward process, but we’re thrilled to confirm that we’re able to do it. This will ensure that Ben has a lifetime supply and that his family won't ever have to worry about finding another cup for Ben."

"I would not be happier if I won the lottery," said Marc. "Some people think I'm exaggerating but without it he doesn't drink so personally I'm very relieved."