Will Tyler is slowly recovering from a beach accident that sent him to hospital
Will Tyler, 11, had to have skin grafted from his right thigh to his left foot after he stepped on a very hot patch of sand where there was a barbecue. In the two years since the accident, he has been scarred for life and has suffered severe mental trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He dreaded going back to any beaches, and the few times he set foot on the sand, he had to wear special UV-resistant shoes to protect his skin from the scorching temperatures.
But last month Will worked up the courage to walk the sand at Leesow Bay beach in Merseyside without shoes – just a few kilometers down the coast from his terror in Formby, Merseyside.
His father Toby, 52, said: “He was delighted to walk on the beach for the first time since the accident unaided, without shoes.
“It was a really wonderful moment for him and for us as a family.
“It was great because he could feel the sand between his toes again.
“I don’t think we realized it at the time, but it was an important moment in William’s journey.
“He was wary at first. The day was not particularly sunny and warm, just overcast, so he decided to walk on the sand without shoes.
“In addition to the physical damage, it took a toll on Willam mentally, so it was quite an achievement.”
Will (left) was able to play on the beach with friends
He was thrilled to walk on the beach unaided, without shoes, for the first time since the accident
Will still has to return to the hospital every six to eight weeks for check-ups, a process that will continue until he stops growing.
But Mr Tyler, a teacher at the children’s school, said his son was struggling more with his mental symptoms.
The father-of-two, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, continued: “He remembers the skin graft as more traumatic than the accident itself.
“He has really terrible separation anxiety because when he was in hospital it was in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and so he was basically locked in isolation with just his mum Claire.
“He was in the burns unit at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for nine nights.
“Doctors thought he had post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the injury. After that he had some serious problems.
“He suffered from quite severe anxiety attacks.
“He has to wear compression socks at all times, including at school, swimming and PE.
“He gets massages twice a day, a splint, and frequent and regular visits to the hospital’s burn unit and psychosocial support unit.”
The young man felt the sand between his toes again
Mr. Tyler now seconded campaign to ban disposable barbecues in the UKwhich coincided with National Barbecue Week, which ends Sunday.
The teacher, who also lives with his HR manager wife Claire, 44, and their daughter Lily, 13, says the kits are dangerous and bad for the environment.
She may also need a skin graft after stepping on a barbeque buried in the sand on the beach.
Will, pictured buried in the sand, and his family have backed a campaign to ditch disposable barbecues
Mr Tyler added: “There has been considerable concern about this recently.
“They are terribly damaging to the environment and wasteful as single-use materials.
“Then there’s the human side. William is far from the only child affected as it happens all the time. There’s a girl in Swansea and a similar accident in Scotland since then. William is not alone and it will happen again.
“There are several reasons not to use them, and there are better alternatives.
“They cause fires and injure children. We want them banned completely. However, it is not against the barbecue, it is against these devices.
“Aldi and Waitrose stopped selling them for these reasons, so it was quite a big step really. We want to encourage other retailers to do the same, but really the government needs to take action.
“William’s accident happened on what was supposed to be a nice family outing at a time when we were finally allowed to go out beyond our neighborhood during the pandemic.
“It doesn’t matter who brings the barbecues to the beach, the problem is that if they are used on the sand, the residual heat stays on the sand for hours.
“We didn’t take a barbecue with us. It had been used there by a previous group and the sand remained very hot. It rots in the sand, so using disposable barbecues can be irresponsible for both people and the environment. .”
Will, from Stockport, was rushed to hospital after the accident in June 2020
Every year, more than a million disposable barbecues end up in landfills.
Brian George, the chef known as the Grillmaster who founded National BBQ Week, said: “We are calling on retailers to move away from disposables from 2020 and this is a clear example of the urgent need for a nationwide ban.
“They may be cheap to buy, but they come at a high environmental price. Although some national retailers have already introduced partial bans, this is not enough, retailers must introduce a full ban or the UK government will have to step in to enforce the ban.
“In the meantime, I would urge shoppers to send them a clear message not to buy them and that they have no place on store shelves in 2022.
“As we’ve said many, many times, ditch the disposable.”
A spokesman for Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) said: “We encourage people to dispose of barbecues responsibly to help protect human health, wildlife and the environment. “We are commissioning research to examine the impact of barbecues and other combustible items on our environment”.