Meet 'Ty the Beach Hut Guy': The Essex teenager making the seaside more accessible

As a 17-year-old with autism and a learning disability, life has often been challenging for Ty from West Mersea.

But in the past three months, he has transformed not only his family beach hut, but also his life, by starting up his own business.

Affectionately known as 'Ty the Beach Hut Guy', he came up with 'The Hut Mersea' in March.

He has turned 'Mabel', the hut his family bought more than a decade ago, into a luxury day trip destination.

Ty rolls out the blue matting which allows his guests in wheelchairs to get onto the sand. Credit: ITV Anglia

In between classes at Doucecroft Special School in Colchester, Ty takes care of cleaning the hut, answering enquiries and dealing with bookings and promotions.

The managerial role has given Ty, who can struggle with social interaction, more confidence and boosted his self esteem.

"I like helping people, and getting paid," Ty said. And when asked what his hut gives guests, he says: "An escape from the world and happiness, happiness."

For Ty his business venture is very much about helping others. Twelve years ago, when he was five, Ty's brother Donnell died as a result of his complex disabilities.

Donnell was seven years old and back then the brothers, who are both adopted, could only go to the edge of the beach together, because Donnell's wheelchair couldn't go on the sand.

Ty's brother Donnell died as a result of his complex disabilities when he was just 7 years old. Credit: Family photo

Now Ty is determined no one else will be held back and working with local charities, he has made his hut as inclusive as possible.

There's blue matting which is rolled out over the sand so wheelchairs can access the hut, there's a portable ramp up the steps and Ty also borrows a special 'buggy' wheelchair with wheels which work on the sand.

But Ty's not stopping there, he's speaking to Colchester Borough Council about constructing a permanent wooden walkway, to replace the matting, and he has ordered his own 'buggy' beach wheelchair.

A new accessible changing facility next to West Mersea beach has also opened this month, just yards from his hut.

The new accessible changing facility on West Mersea beach opened this month. Credit: ITV Anglia

Accessibility campaigner and local town councillor Sophie Weaver worked on the project to build the toilets and has been advising Ty on how to make his hut inclusive.

"It's really important for people to be able to experience what everyone else is able to experience," said Sophie, "It's very exciting to link the changing room up with Ty's project. A trip to the beach is going to be very short unless you have a toileting facility for disabled people."

Ty's experience of losing his brother also means he knows how important it is to make memories with loved ones.

That's why, once he's paid the bills with the money he makes from hiring out the hut, he uses the rest, plus donations, to put on free, special days for families and people who need it the most.

Even though he only opened in April, he's already hosted Ukrainian refugees, women who have experienced domestic violence and people in palliative care.

Ty invited some four legged friends from local charity 'Wellies On' to share an afternoon at 'The Hut' with special guest Erin. Credit: ITV Anglia

Eight-year old-Erin from Colchester has been to 'The Hut' twice so far this year with her mum and grandad.

A wheelchair user she has a multitude of long term and life limiting conditions.

At Christmas, Erin's mum Helen Sadler was told her daughter only had weeks to live, but against the odds she is still smiling six months after that prognosis.

For them, spending time making memories is extremely important, but until Ty's hut, a day at the beach would not have been an option for them.

"Accessibility is a massive, massive issue when you have additional requirements for a day out," said Helen, "Erin has a wheelchair and is fed by a pump, she requires medication and to plan things is really quite complicated and near on impossible to be honest with parking and toilets.

"When I saw Ty's Beach Hut on my Facebook feed, it just looked incredible. And I thought ''we could actually do this.'"

Erin and her mum Helen enjoy the beach with a special beach buggy 'wheelchair'. Credit: ITV Anglia

Whilst at 'The Hut Mersea', Erin dipped her feet in the water for the first time, and felt the sand between her toes. Helen said they were 'bucket list' things for the family.

"It's just the opportunity to be together and the sea is so calming. It's wonderful to be here by the sea and it's wonderful to be here with my little girl."

Ty's business is thriving and he is now fully booked for his first summer season.

But despite achieving so much already, he is already looking to the future, planning his business expansion.

His dream is to buy a second hut, so the beach can be something even more people can enjoy.

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