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  1. ITV Report

British brothers orphaned in 2004 tsunami tell of excitement at opening first children's home

Paul, Rob and their two younger siblings before the tsunami. Photo: Gandys

A decade after they lost their parents in the Boxing Day tsunami, Rob and Paul Forkan have told ITV News about their joy at being able to help the children that aided them in the aftermath of the disaster.

The boys were just 15 and 17 and living in Sri Lanka with their parents and younger brother and sister when the tsunami hit the island on Boxing Day 2004.

ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies reports.

The pair survived, as did their siblings, but Kevin and Sandra Forkan were swept away in the deluge.

Paul described waking up the morning of the tsunami:

Rob woke me up and he said 'there's some water in the room' and I just carried on lying there and he said 'no, no, there's more you've got to get up.'

– Paul Forkan
The family before the disaster. Credit: Gandys

Paul credits his brother with his surviving the massive waves.

He had lost his grip on a pillar and would have been washed away if Rob had not grabbed hold of him.

I was holding on and I slipped and Rob managed to grab my, I don't know how he grabbed it.

– Paul Forkan

Now with a successful business built on their extensive travelling experience they are pleased to be able to give back to the local children who helped the newly orphaned siblings get home to the UK after the disaster.

Building work has started on the children's campus. Credit: Gandys

The pair are returning to Sri Lanka to supervise the building of their first children's centre, under the slogan 'Orphans for Orphans'.

They raised the money to fund the home through their company which designs and sells flip flops.

That day was a day we'll never forget and that is why we work so hard at what we do and when we were in Sri Lanka there was local children that helped us, if it wasn't for some of the kids there we wouldn't have got home.

– Rob Forkan

The children's campus will help with accommodation and education for around 400 children and there are hopes to build more.

The Gandys flip flop brand the brothers created is dedicated to the parents they lost and has seen several celebrities wearing the footwear and big brands including Liberty collaborating on designs.

Richard Branson is one the celebrities who have supported the company. Credit: Gandys

Ten years after their family was torn apart the brothers hope they can help other survivors of the disaster to start a brighter future.

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