Purley brothers' flip flop charity venture Gandys goes global

Paul and Rob Forkan

Paul and Rob Forkan

First published in News Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Two brothers' flip flop charity venture in memory of their parents killed by a tsunami has smashed expectations by going global.

Rob Forkan, 25, and his brother Paul, 23, from Purley, set up Gandys in 2011 with the aim of building an orphanage in Goa, India by 2014.

The pair wanted selling their flip flops to help people affected by the Sri Lankan tsunami in 2004, which claimed 300,000 lives, including, tragically, their parents Sandra and Kevin.

The family were spending Christmas on holiday in Sri Lanka when the devastating tidal waves caused by a massive earthquake struck.

Miraculously Rob, then 17, Paul, 15, and siblings Matty, 12, and Rosie, eight, all survived the devastation.

After two years of hard work, a string of top retailers from around the globe are now queuing up to sell a pair of the flip flops.

In the last couple of months Selfridges, House of Fraser, Schuh, Soletrader, Office, and Topman Oxford Street, have all signed up to sell the footwear.

They have also been picked up by US fashion giant Nordstorm who will start selling Gandys flip flops in the summer. They will also be featured during London Fashion Week.

The duo, who attended Woodcote Infant, Primary and Secondary school, said they have exceeded all expectations this year - and it now means they will be able to fund more charity projects than anticipated.

Rob said: "It has been totally overwhelming and unexpected.

"We have put in a hell of a lot of hard work, so we were hoping that we would get some results from all the hard work.

"We expected maybe one or two retailers but we definitely didn't expect to sign up every footwear retailer on the high street."

Last year the brothers told the Croydon Guardian about their loss and how it has pushed them to give to others. Their current project is all done in their parents' honour.

They have already funded a teacher for the whole year in India, and enough school supplies for a community.

Older brother Rob said they are on course to opening their own children’s home at the end of next year and with the project going so well they are now hoping to build more in other continents.

The pair are also doing the rounds at various universities and colleges to encourage students to set up their own socially responsible businesses.

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