A YOUNG boy who stepped on a discarded disposable beach barbecue buried in the sand leaving him in need of a skin graft, has inspired a fundraising campaign.
Will Tyler, who was just nine-years-old at the time of the horror accident, severely scarred both his feet and required urgent medical treatment.
The barbecue had been used by his family and friends for a meal on Formby beach.
His dad had to run across the sand dunes, carrying Will for 20 minutes in the summer heat, to get back to the car so Will’s mum could drive him to hospital. The surgery and care Will received at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital inspired him to start fundraising for the hospital’s charity.
On the one-year anniversary of the accident on June 1, 2021, Will began eight fundraising challenges, which vary from an 8km walk to eight random acts of kindness. To kickstart the challenge, he revisited Formby Beach to raise awareness of the dangers of barbecues on sand.
The number of challenges are themed around the number eight, the number of nights Will spent in hospital.
His other challenges included an 8km paddle in the Mersey River; eight friends had a head shave in eight minutes; eight random acts of kindness and an eight-minute ice bath.
Will, now 10, who is still attending appointments at the hospital, said: “My stay in hospital was really difficult because it was during lockdown so my sister, Lily, and my dad weren’t able to visit me. I could only be with my mum.
“My injury was really painful but the dressing changes were sometimes just as painful as when I burnt myself. I also couldn’t walk for a while and I had to use a wheelchair and then crutches.”
Will, his parents Toby, 41, Claire, 44, his sister Lily, now aged 12, and some friends had decided to leave their homes in Stockport to spend a day at Formby beach when the accident happened. They had purposefully hiked across the sand dunes at Formby to keep away from the crowds and so were far away from their cars.
They set up a disposable barbecue to enjoy some sausage sandwiches and once the barbecue had cooled, moved it to one side, far away from the children, so the youngsters could run around and play.
Toby said: “Everyone I’ve told this story to just cannot believe how sand can stay that hot. We’d used one of those disposable barbecues where the coals are in a foil tray. The bottom of the tray was on the sand, which I now know meant the heat was being sent down into the sand and the foil surface was trapping it there.
“When we moved the barbecue, the top of the sand cooled in the atmosphere, but underneath it was still roasting hot as the heat had just been trapped there. We learned later it can stay dangerously hot for hours and hours.
“The kids were running around playing when suddenly Will just screamed. As a parent, it’s the worst sound I’d ever heard and it’s a sound I’ll never forget. He pulled his foot out of the sand and his skin was peeling off his foot like melted wax.”
Claire drove Will to a Ormskirk Hospital before he was taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.