Support worker rolls out the mat for those in need
A VOLUNTEER and support worker is determined to allow people of all abilities to have access to the beach.
Brian Hill has started fundraising for two beach mats for the Gladstone region, in Tannum Sands and Agnes Water.
Mr Hill, who has lived in Gladstone for six years, said the elderly and people with disabilities were missing out on enjoying the region's beautiful coastlines.
The mats, which cost about $11,000 each, have been rolled out at beaches in Australia to allow people who cannot walk on the sand the ability to dip their toes in the ocean.
Mr Hill has gained support from Gladstone councillors Kahn Goodluck and Rick Hansen and Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, who are exploring ways they can help financially.
He said the beach mats would make a difference to the lives of elderly people and residents with a disability, including the Burrell family. Michelle Burrell, whose son Jordie has an intellectual disability and is unable to walk, said her family missed going to the beach.
She said it was during a beach trip that she realised her now 17-year-old son was losing his ability to walk.
"It happened one day when we were walking to the beach and his foot just collapsed," she said.
"That's when I realised something was wrong."
After the family received a $10,000 automatic wheelchair recently, Mrs Burrell said it would be incredible for Jordie to have access to the beach again.
Mr Hill hopes to have the mats at Tannum Sands and Agnes Water by summer.
If you would like to help Mr Hill's fundraising effort, click here to go to the GoFundMe page.