HomeCommunityMurray feels the ocean on his feet once again

Murray feels the ocean on his feet once again

Murray Stevens Mobi-mat U-Beach Community Beach Day
Murray Stevens was the first person to use the aided beach walker and Mobi-mat at the U-Beach Community Beach Day, and although initially he was apprehensive, he said every second after his first step felt like magic as he made his way to the waters edge.

Murray Stevens, 91, has long had a yearning to feel the sand between his toes and the ocean lap on his feet once more, and on Wednesday this become a reality.

Murray was the first person to use an aided beach-walker and Mobi-mat at the U-Beach Community Beach Day at Nielson Park.

Although initially apprehensive, he said every second after his first step felt like magic as he made his way to the water's edge.

“It’s been several years since I have been able to feel the ocean water,” Murray said.

“I do picnic by the ocean quite a bit, but I have had limited access to the beach until now.

“It was pretty special yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed being on the beach again.”

An ocean lover all his life Murray spent two decades in retirement living on a boat at Burnett Heads and it was only three years ago when he returned to living on land at Bargara.

“I became a land lover just three years ago after living in my boat for 20 years,” he said.

“I had heard about the (U-Beach) morning and at first I was just going to be an observer, but when I was there and I saw the support that was offered I decided why not?

“I am so glad I gave it ago.

“It was a really good day; I am looking forward to using the equipment again and also going for a swim next time.”

Murray said he was thankful the U-Beach Community Beach Day project catered not only for the disabled community, but also helped elderly people enjoy the beach once again.

His support worker, Janine Kerr, accompanied Murray to Nielson’s Park Beach for the event with hopes the 91 year old would once again be reunited with the waves, and she said it was a moment neither of them would forget.

“Murray can no longer go into his beloved ocean, but we often sit at all our beautiful beaches each week so he can enjoy the view,” she said.

“The opportunity was offered to him by the CQUniversity OT students, and he took it.

“He used the supplied beach walker and the brand new Mobi-mat to get down to water’s edge and walk in the wet sand and put his feet in the ocean.

“He was very grateful.”

The Universal Beach Access Hub (U-BEACH) project was led by CQU Bundaberg physiotherapy lecturer Sasha Job.

Sasha said more than 260 community members attend the all-inclusive beach day, which provided accessible mats and beach equipment so everyone could enjoy the beach.

“We know that in our region around one-in-five people have disability and 50 per cent of those people have told us they can't access the beach,” she said.

“(This) is all about showing them that with simple solutions we can access the beach and get people engaged in beach activities.

“We worked with Council from about 2020, around understanding which equipment would suit the majority of people in Bundaberg to improve beach access.

“Council popped into their budget the beach access matting and storage for that, as well as a standard wheelchair for the beach.”