A little boy's foot "melted like wax" after walking on sand that had been scorched by a disposable barbecue.
Will Tyler, 10, was left unable to walk after suffering severe burns to his left foot while out with his family at Formby Beach in Sefton, Merseyside, yesterday, Tuesday.
He needed skin grafts to repair his badly damaged foot.
Having walked along the sand dunes with his parents, Toby, 51, and Claire, 44, sister Lily, 12, and friends of the family, the group set up a beach barbecue to cook sausages.
Once it had cooled down, the disposable barbecue was moved away from the playing children.
"Everyone I’ve told this story to just cannot believe how sand can stay that hot," Toby said.
"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, 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.
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"He pulled his foot out of the sand and his skin was peeling off his foot like melted wax.
"By the time I carried him to the car I was I was soaking wet with sweat. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it but seeing Will’s foot….I guess the adrenalin just kicked in."
This meant Will's dad had to run across the dunes, carrying him for 20 minutes in the summer heat, back to the car so his mum could get him treated.
Mum Claire drove Will to a nearby hospital before he was taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
From there it was a slow recovery process, initially spending nine days and eight nights in hospital unable to have visitors other than his mum, and in a lot of pain.
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Will had to have a skin graft from his right thigh to his left foot and was given morphine, gas, and air to help him get through the pain.
Once home, Will’s recovery was far from over and he relied on a wheelchair at first, before progressing to a walking frame and crutches and eventually was able to walk unaided again.
He still has to wear compression socks 23 hours a day and a splint at night, as well as moisturising his skin and massaging the skin to reduce bumps in the scar tissue.
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Toby continued: "He has fun with it – he calls it his 'bacon' because that’s what it looks like.
"As he’s still growing we’re not sure if there will be operations in the future. But for now, he is recovering well and he’s lucky that he has some close friends that have been really great at supporting him."
Will is fundraising for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where he is still attending appointments.
He said: "I wanted to do some fundraising themed around the number eight because that’s how many nights I was in the children’s hospital.
"It was really difficult because it was last year during lockdown so my sister Lily and my dad weren’t able to visit me, I was only with my mum.
"But all the nurses were nice to me and everyone on the ward was really kind."
Sefton Council said fires and barbecues are banned near the coast.
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