The Forkan brothers were orphaned in the devastating Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, when a huge wave crashed into the shores of Sri Lanka, killing their parents.
Rob and Paul lost their mum and dad when they were just teenagers. In honour of their adventurous, inspirational parents, the young men started making flip flops from their London bedroom and selling their wares to make money for other orphans all over the world.
Since then, The Gandys Foundation has helped countless kids get back on their feet after the passing of their parents, through Rob and Paul’s Orphans for Orphans initiative.
The brothers have worked tirelessly to house and support orphans in Sri Lanka, but recently they had an extraordinary encounter with two young boys closer to home, who were also orphaned at the cruel hands of a freak wave – just like they had been in 2004.
The two young brothers, Jordan and Samuel Walker, lost their single mum, Julie, and six-year-old brother in a horrific accident last summer in Aberdeen when a freak wave dragged the pair off an esplanade at the beach.
They were just 14 and 17 at the time.
The Forkan brothers – who are such huge QPR fans they actually painted one of their children’s homes blue and white – invited Jordan and Sam to the London football club for a special tour day.
Jordan and Sam – also avid QPR supporters – had an unforgettable day enjoying things every teen football fan would appreciate.
QPR had reached out to Rob and Paul in the months after their parents’ deaths and now – through the new BBC television program Going back, Giving back – the Forkans hoped QPR could do the same for Jordan and Sam, offering them a little slice of escapism from their ongoing grief.
Rob, the eldest brother and co-founder of Gandys, said:
The young lads are two incredible people who have faced so much at a young age and have no idea of the strength they have shown.
Both Samuel and Jordan deserve the best possible future. Hopefully if we can help them in a small way it will keep them positive about the road ahead.
The Forkan brothers have also set up a trust fund for Jordan and Sam, who now live with their grandmother, to help the family look to the future after such a devastating loss.
Their story will be told on the BBC in a programme which allows people who have experienced hardships in the past to help others in the same boat.
Here’s what you can expect from Going back, Giving back:
QPR Club Ambassador, Andy Sinton recalled meeting Sam and Jordan for QPR, saying:
It really is an inspirational story. When I first heard of how Rob and Paul have rebuilt their lives following their own tragedy, it really makes you realise just how special some people are.
The fact they’re now giving something back to Samuel and Jordan through this initiative speaks even greater volumes of them and everyone connected to Gandys.
As a club, we’re delighted to be able to lend our support. Football is such a powerful tool and if we can help put smiles back on Samuel and Jordan’s faces, that will be amazing.
Meeting them today was a really special moment. They’re two exceptional young children and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to Loftus Road for our final home match of the season.
Mum & Dad – This one is for you! I asked my brother Paul to leave Australia a few years ago to come back & help with an idea to design flip flops that would allow us help build a children's home in memory of our parents who we lost in the boxing day tsunami. After all the travelling & volunteering and the sacrifice of their lives they made to save our youngest siblings we have worked day and night to make this idea become reality. The people of Sri Lanka also helped us get to safety,we were only kids at the time so this is why we have returned to open the first Gandys Kids Campus which will hopefully see other kids in 10 years time reach their own dreams. Some siblings can grow apart as you get older & take your own paths but we have only got stronger and have given everything since the moment of survival 10 years ago to get our youngest siblings home to now helping these children for a better future. The last few years have been hard work but wouldn't have changed it for the World and it is great to say that we have now achieved this with each other. Hopefully this is just the start & we thank all of those who have helped us on our journey and shown us the support and encouragement to make this happen. Rob & Paul – Orphans for Orphans PS For all of you at home this festive season with your nearest & dearest please share your very own #SiblingSelfie
The Gandys Foundation and Orphans for Orphans continue to help young people without parents live full and happy lives, through expressions of creativity, fashion and wanderlust.
If you are suffering after a bereavement, please contact The Gandys Foundation. They’re also looking for ambassadors, so if you’d like to help, get in touch.
Going back, Giving back is due to air on the BBC this May.